The Liberals are accusing the Conservatives of being insensitive for planning a party to celebrate the passage of a bill that will scrap the long-gun registry.
Many Conservative MPs have been lobbying for the end of the registry since they arrived on Parliament Hill. They say a reception in Parliament's reading room is just a way to mark the end of a long effort.
“When you promise something for so many years and you are stymied by the opposition to get that passed, it is a celebration,” Ontario Conservative MP David Tilson said.
Liberal interim leader Bob Rae called the festive approach “completely, completely inappropriate in the circumstances,” and “completely insensitive to the sentiment of the good majority of Canadians.” Rae said it is just a further demonstrations that the Conservatives are not in touch with public opinion on the issue.
Tilson said he would tell victims of gun violence who may feel disgusted by the celebratory mood that the gun registry has never stopped a crime.
And despite the overwhelming majority of police organizations coming out in support of the long-gun registry, Tilson said he believes rank and file members support the Conservatives’ plans.
“The (police) chief of my community wants the long gun registry to stay but I talk privately to the rank and file officers and they don’t feel the same way,” he added.
Alberta Conservative MP Leon Benoit said Wednesday’s celebration were just the natural way to mark the end of a long and difficult journey.
One MP joked they’d be doing “shooters” after the vote.
Tory MP Jim Hillyer made headlines last year after he celebrated a gun registry vote with a finger guns gesture. After the video went viral, Hillyer said he had not meant to offend anyone and that blame should land on the person behind the video for posting it on the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.
New Brunswick MP John Williamson said he heard there was a “reception” but that he wouldn’t call it a “party.”
“The real story tonight is that we are finally getting rid of this long gun registry,” he said.
MPs will cast their final votes on the bill to scrap the long-gun registry Wednesday evening. It is assured passage when it is introduced in the Senate, where the Tories also have a healthy majority.
CORRECTION: An original version of the story erroneously reported that the reception was held in the Prime Minister's quarters. It was actually held in the reading room in the Parliament building's Centre Block.