NDP MP under fire in riding over LGR vote
With debate in Canada continuing to simmer following the vote to kill Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner's long-gun registry bill, it seems that some of the rural MPs who voted in favour of that motion may not be as safe as they thought they would be.
Following his decision to about-face on the registry, Sackville-Eastern Shore MP (representing the NDP) Peter Stoffer's office was deluged with angry phone calls from constituents. Reportedly, he's still sorting through all the calls.
“I don’t use the Internet so I called every single person back,” Stoffer said. “There is no question a fair number of people have expressed their severe disappointment in me.”
Stoffer's riding has now been added to the list of rural ridings effectively on a watch-list of constituencies that have just become vulnerable.
“I can’t tell how it’s going to go. I’ll put my name on the ballot and the people will determine if I’m worthy or not,” he continued. “When you reverse a decision, a lot of people think you’ve let them down. That’s a fair comment to make.”
Interestingly, as one examines some of the other details to emerge in regard to Stoffer's strange change of heart, one wonders if perhaps that's what Stoffer's vote was actually about: keeping his name on the ballot.
Reportedly, Stoffer received calls from former NDP leaders Ed Broadbent and Alexa McDonough in the days preceding his decision.
"They did call me and offer me advice," Stoffer explained. "They basically said you should really consider what the leader is trying to do, which is find common ground. They both said that."
Stoffer insists that NDP leader Jack Layton put no pressure on him to change his vote.
"There’s no question about that, but at the same time, there’s other people who you have huge respect for saying something completely different, and that is taken into account as well," Stoffer continued.
Then again, whether or not one actually believes such an account is another matter altogether.
The public assumption when dealing with the NDP has classically been to assume that they are the "nice guys" of Canadian politics; that no one in the NDP would offer thinly-veiled suggestions that if Stoffer declined to support the long-gun registry he might find himself losing his nomination for the NDP in Sackville-Eastern Shore.
This would cost him his seat just as easily as upsetting any non-NDP-affiliated constituents who may have supported him in the last election, and may not support him the next time out.
"There are some people that have indicated they will do everything they can to defeat me," Stoffer admitted. "There is no question that personal friends that I had before may not be friends anymore. I understand that."
At least Stoffer seems content to take whatever lumps may be coming his way in the next election.
"It’s fair to say I’ve reversed my position. I’m not hiding from that," Stoffer said. "The people in my riding, in the next election, which is going to come soon, are going to determine whether they accept that or not."
It's a laudable democratic sentiment from someone who made an extremely un-laudable decision.