Anyone who knows me knows I'm no fan of Jack Layton's. I think he's an opportunistic man who will do almost anything to get in front of a TV camera. So his stand on "allowing" a free vote on Bill C-391 is very surprising to me.
It's no secret that old Jack is anti-gun. If he had his way he'd ban them all in a heartbeat. Good thing he doesn't get his way, if you're a gun owner like me.
Yet he is steadfastly refusing to whip the party vote on C-391, and at the possibility of great political cost to himself.
Liberal "leader" Michael Ignatief is slamming Layton every chance he gets. Ignatief is, naturally, forcing his Liberal MPs to vote his party line or face the consequences of his wrath.
Yukon's Liberal MP Larry Bagnell is feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place. His rural riding is filled with hunters, miners, prospectors and outdoors people.
When asked if he would avoid the House instead of voting against his constituents, Bagnell said "I’m not sure, I haven’t explored that possibility to see if that’s an option". He's got to ask Iggy's permission to be absent, I guess.
Terrified of opposing his party leader, and equally scared of facing his constituents at election time if he votes to keep the gun registry, Bagnell is feeling left out in the cold by a party leader out of touch with rural Canada.
Bagnell needs to "man up" and do right by his constituents, and to hell with his party and its leader. His constituents will re-elect him as an independent if he does right by them. Will they re-elect him if he spits in their face on C-391? I wouldn't bet my election hopes on it if I was Larry Bagnell.
NDP MPs, on the other hand, are able to vote the way their constituents desire, which is how democracy is supposed to run in the first place. Representatives voting the will of the people they represent.
While not a philosophical dilemma for most Conservative MPs, they too will be expected to vote the party line on C-391, even if Harper doesn't make it official.
Bloc Quebecois MPs will vote against the bill, as their party leader demands, leaving Jack Layton as the only federal party leader willing to act with integrity on this issue of free votes on Private Member's Bills.
Did I really say that? Did I really use the words "Jack Layton" and "integrity" in the same sentence?
Yes. Yes, I did.