Political parties over the years have promised more freedom for MPs, more free votes etc., but little comes of it. All too often deviance from the party line by an MP becomes a media story and it plays as an embarrassment of the respective leader. It is no wonder then that party leaders react so strongly when this happens.
While I had long believed in gun control, its importance hit home for me after losing my mother at the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. Like many Canadians, I took some comfort in the strong Canadian laws and the seeming lack of comparable influence of the Canadian gun lobby compared to their NRA cousins in the US. However, the changes to Canadian gun laws over the past year show that this sense of comfort was naive.
The Aurora shooting was a true tragedy. Sadly, all of the guns used in the massacre were purchased legally in the U.S. In Canada, we pride ourselves on being a peaceful and non-violent nation. For decades, Canadians have recognized the importance of remaining vigilant about gun control. But the passage of Bill C-19 -- and the abolishment of the long gun registry -- not only resulted in the loss of an important public safety tool, it also represented a step toward adopting more lenient gun control laws in Canada.
Seems that when you spend an hour watching Canadian TV news stories about politics, you get only about 15 minutes of real information. These scary numbers come from the highly respected charitable Samara Institute today. Samara has spent months doing all the research, the number crunching, and the drawing of conclusions. Will the newsrooms listen? Probably not.
Earlier this week the House had an opportunity for civilized and informed debate, yet missed the mark entirely. Beyond the conflating the issues of abolishing the registry and deleting the data, the debate demeaned itself with its vilifying rhetoric when MP Larry Miller made a reference to Hitler.
There are obvious potential caveats to the open primary system, but right now, with a party backed up against a wall with no place else to go, there aren't really a multitude of options. I applaud Mr. Rae for having the bold initiative to think outside the proverbial box.
The danger for the Conservatives is that this way of operating can become the easy way out to avoid extensive debate on issues that are controversial. Sooner or later the public will see this as Harper bullying the opposition parties or as Harper being undemocratic, and they will see the Conservatives as arrogant.