Thunder Bay

NDP MP unhappy with gun vote sanctions

The NDP leadership has sanctioned both Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Bruce Hyer and Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP John Rafferty for voting to abolish the long-gun registry.

Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP John Rafferty said his long gun registry vote was simply a reflection of what his constituents wanted

Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP John Rafferty said he cannot abide by being forced into silence by the NDP. (Canadian Press)

Thunder Bay's two NDP MP's will still be able to speak in the House of Commons, but their opportunities are limited.

Bruce Hyer and John Rafferty have been punished by their party for voting to abolish the long-gun registry. They cannot participate in Question Period, make statements, sit on committees, hold critic roles, and have lost their travel privileges outside of travel between Ottawa and Thunder Bay.

Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Bruce Hyer. (Canadian Press)

A spokesperson for Hyer said they can still introduce legislation and take part in debates.

Rafferty said it's not right.

"This punishment is interesting," he said during an interview with CBC Radio in Thunder Bay.

"My workload has been lightened appreciably. But the real problem for me is my voice is forced to be quiet by my party.  It’s really a punishment for my constituents — and that I cannot abide."

'Strange' reaction

Voting the way he did was "made very clear" by his constituents, he said.

"I was told that it was not a whip vote," Rafferty added.

"It appears as if some members were told it was a whip vote and I was told it was not a whip vote. There seems to be some confusion within the leadership."

He noted that he found the reaction "strange because there has been no official party policy on this. It’s been something that’s been an issue in our party for a long time."

Rafferty said he was told about the sanctions by the NDP whip, not by party leader Nicole Turmel. The term of their discipline is unknown but Rafferty said it will last until the gun registry issue has been dealt with in Parliament.

The two went against the NDP's official position and voted with the government this week during the second reading of the bill to abolish the controversial long-gun registry.

Jack Harris, the NDP's justice critic, said Rafferty and Hyer had been warned they would suffer "the consequences" if they broke ranks.

Turmel did not indicate Wednesday if the party line would be enforced more rigidly when the long-gun registry comes to a final vote.

Instead, she said there is more work to be done in committee and that the party caucus is unanimous in believing the registry's data should be made available to provinces that want to set up their own registry.