MP rejects Harper’s divisive tactics, says program can be fixed to work for rural Canada

ELLIOT LAKE – Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes announced today that she is committing to improving Canada’s flawed long-gun registry, rejecting Stephen Harper’s increasingly divisive campaign to scrap it outright. Hughes said her decision follows extensive consultations with constituents.

"This is not a decision I have taken lightly," said Hughes. "I have reviewed years’ worth of input from people across this riding—hundreds of mail-back cards, phone calls, notes from meetings and reports. And I can tell you that their views about the registry are rich and diverse, just like they are everywhere else in the country.”

Hughes said she expects some constituents will disagree with her decision to oppose a private member’s bill (C-391) to scrap the registry. However, she noted that her office has had to help only two people with registry casework. Hughes said the majority of complaints from constituents focus on the registry’s costs—money that could have gone to support badly-needed local economic development.

“Should Ottawa have spent a billion dollars on this thing? I say no way, and so do most people around here. But that start-up money is gone, and I want to look forward, not back. I think many people were surprised to learn this month that it now only costs a dime per Canadian to keep the registry running,” Hughes said.

Hughes said she supports Jack Layton’s initiative to fix the registry in ways that respond to rural Canadians’ concerns, as well as those of First Nations. She condemned Stephen Harper’s increasingly bitter campaign against the registry. She specifically condemned how Conservative MPs are now describing police associations as “special interest groups.”

"My job includes standing up for the most vulnerable," Hughes said. "All of the major Canadian policing organizations say the registry is helping front-line officers keep our communities safer, and we need to give them the tools to succeed.”