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Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP John Rafferty and NDP counterpart MP Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay Superior North) may not have made the best career moves in voting to end the long-gun registry, in second reading last week, but their sacrifice deserves some acknowledgement from the residents of the north, regardless of your personal politics.
Both Rafferty and Hyer have been severely reprimanded by the New Democratic Party — losing their ability to act as critics for the opposition, participate in Question Period, make statements, sit on committees, or travel beyond their normal bounds of Thunder Bay and Ottawa.
That’s quite a spanking for expressing what they clearly believed to be the predominant opinion among their constituents.
This is where I start to question my naiveté about politics. Isn’t that what MPs are supposed to do? Isn’t that a core value of the NDP’s grassroots ethos?
Even Conservative Kenora MP Greg Rickford is applauding Rafferty and Hyer for being the only NDP MPs to keep their promises on the issue.
The compliment is a bit of a backhanded one, naturally. Rickford adds with Rafferty and Hyer silenced by their own party, it leaves himself as the lone voice in Parliament representing the interests of northwestern Ontario.
Rickford tacks on this little nugget, “When the NDP boasts about silencing its members, it is no wonder it’s so worried about floor crossing.”
From the perspective of the northwestern Ontario voter, the NDP looks viciously undemocratic over an issue that was most likely a lost cause for them in the first place. Why a party, mostly consisting of rural ridings, would adopt such hard line support for something so consistently unpopular with rural Canadians doesn’t make any sense to me.
To the parties, the gun registry issue no doubt serves as an ideological dividing line. For rural MPs like Rafferty and Hyer, it’s never been that simple or easy to decide just where one’s loyalties should be.
I think they made the choice that will let them look their constituents in the eye, and let them rest easy at night knowing that they did what they were elected to do.