'Move on' from gun registry: Liberals

Liberal MP Mark Holland is urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to accept the results of Wednesday's gun registry vote and move on.
Range officer Patrick Deegan looks through the scope of long gun at Shooting Edge, a store in Calgary. MPs are debating the fate of the federal gun registry Wednesday night in the House of Commons. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Liberal MP Mark Holland is urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to accept the results of Wednesday's vote on the fate of the federal gun registry and move on.

"They know the vote is close, that the NDP has left it on the razor's edge," he said at a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday. "We're saying to the prime minister, 'Let this vote stand, move on.'"

MP Mark Holland, seen in the House of Commons in May, is urging the Conservatives to move on from the gun registry debate. ((Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press))

MPs will vote Wednesday evening on a Liberal motion to defeat a Conservative backbencher's private member's bill to repeal the 15-year-old registry. The issue was debated in the House of Commons for an hour on Tuesday evening.

With the Liberals and the Bloc Québécois poised to vote to halt Tory MP Candice Hoeppner's bill and the Conservatives set to support the bill, the fate of the registry lies with the NDP, which allows its MPs to vote however they want on private member's bills. 

It appears the NDP has enough support to save the gun registry, and the Liberal motion will pass 153-151. 

Holland, the Liberal's public safety critic, said that when the motion passes, the Conservatives should not look for new ways to scrap the registry. 

"Let's focus on other issues," he said, suggesting the government should be focused on the economy, Canada's deficit, health care and early childhood development.

"Instead, we have a prime minister obsessed with a registry that will only save $4 million [if ended], and the police say we desperately need."

Tories look for last-minute support

But the Conservatives have not given up on their cause. Hoeppner spent Tuesday morning on a farm in Carp, Ont., west of Ottawa, talking to farmers and hunters there about the importance of her bill.

In the House of Commons, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews urged MPs to vote with his party.

"The long-gun registry is wasteful, it's ineffective and it criminalizes farmers and hunters," he said during Question Period. "Our Conservative government knows that criminals do not register long guns. You can vote to keep the wasteful long-gun registry or vote to scrap it."

Gun registry debate

MPs are debating the gun registry in the House of Commons from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET. To watch live, or follow the CBC's Kady O'Malley liveblog during the event, visit our politics page.

But Holland, in his press conference Tuesday, emphasized specifically how important the gun registry is to Canadian women. Speaking to reporters with members of the Liberals' women's caucus at his side, Holland said he and the caucus travelled across Canada this summer and learned how valuable the registry is.

"We heard from women's groups across the country about how the registry saves lives, how important it is to women, how women are disproportionately affected by gun violence," he said.

"Two to one, women are more likely to be killed by a long gun than a handgun, and they are pleading and begging for Parliament to keep the registry."

Liberal MP Alexandra Mendes, from the suburban Quebec riding of Brossard-La Prairie, said the key to the registry for women is it helps police combat domestic violence, because police know exactly how many guns are in a home.

"Obviously it won't eliminate the violence, but it is a way of preventing violence," she said in French. "That is what we get through the gun registry, particularly when women are in remote or rural areas."

"They're very much in favour of maintaining the gun registry precisely for these reasons, as a way of preventing violence."