Re: Another Shot at Bagnell, the News October 6:
I wish to respond to the president of the Yukon Conservative Association, regarding MP Larry Bagnell’s vote on the long-gun registry. I do so, not because I wish to defend the Liberal Party of Canada, but because I believe that Bagnell is taking criticism that is not deserved.
As president of the Liberal Party of Canada, Yukon Association, I have openly voiced my opposition to the need for Michael Ignatieff to invoke party discipline on this vote. I fundamentally disagree with this, and believe this has resulted in a very fine man, Bagnell, unfortunately being exposed to the kind of criticism that is expressed in Horne’s letter.
Having said this I, frankly, do not know how Bagnell would have voted if the party had not “whipped” this vote. I do know that he received a considerable number of calls, e-mail and letters calling on him to support the party in opposition to the vote to disband the registry. There is, it is quite clear, a strong percentage of people in Yukon who believe that the registry is a positive contribution to our efforts to control abuse of guns of any kind.
Personally, I have three guns, one that is a restricted firearm. I have all three guns registered, and can tell you from personal experience that the main “gauntlet” to ensure that I should be given the privilege to possess and use these firearms is the Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL), not the firearm registry (and, by the way, the PAL is not at issue here).
I went through a multi-day course and passed two tests to secure this PAL.
I have been a marksman since 1974 when our team won the silver medal at the Anchorage Arctic Winter Games. I know guns, and I know the importance of respect and careful management of these weapons. I believe that the PAL protects us generally in our society (“generally” because nothing in PAL or the registry will protect from illegal possession of firearms by people pursuing illegal activities).
What I want to ask of all Yukoners, whether you support the registry or wish to see it removed, is that you give our MP a break. He was pushed to the wall on an issue that divides our Yukon society. I don’t know if the percentages are 50/50, 60/40, 40/60, but it is clear that there are a significant number of voices in support of both sides of this issue. This is a no-win here for our MP, and his choices were further complicated by a national party that put additional, and I would argue, inappropriate pressures on him to vote in favour of a position that is clearly designed to court political favour in “big city Canada.”
No matter what, Bagnell had a tough choice to make, and he made it. He did not dodge it. He stepped forward and voted. Whether you agree with his decision or not, he did the honourable thing by voting.
In his defence, this man works tirelessly to advocate on our behalf in the Parliament of Canada. I often send him messages at 10 or 11 p.m. and I get a response within minutes (that would be 1 and 2 in the morning in Ottawa, by the way). The guy doesn’t sleep. He is “accused” by some of not being sufficiently “political.” To me, that is a pat on the back, because he tirelessly does everything in his power to represent Yukon interests in Ottawa, no matter where this aligns strategically in the Ottawa political “game.” For Bagnell, it’s all about what’s best for Yukon Ã what’s best for us!
I believe, in this instance, where the registry is concerned, that he made a call that was not easy to make, but he fundamentally believed it was in the long-term interest of Yukon.
I can’t speak for Bagnell, but give him the benefit of the doubt, and if you don’t believe what I’ve written here, give him a call. He will talk to you no matter when you call him. That’s the kind of political leader he is. He’s in it, not for partisan purposes, but for us, Yukoners, no matter where we fall on the political spectrum.
Kirk Cameron, president
Liberal Party of Canada, Yukon