Simms ponders vote on long-gun registry

Rob Antle
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Scott Simms is the only Liberal MP from this province still pondering his vote on a Conservative private member's motion that would abolish the long-gun registry.

Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff has indicated the vote will be whipped, with all Liberals expected to support the party.

OTTAWA - Scott Simms is the only Liberal MP from this province still pondering his vote on a Conservative private member's motion that would abolish the long-gun registry.

Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff has indicated the vote will be whipped, with all Liberals expected to support the party.

The Liberals have vowed to vote against Bill C-391, tabled by Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner.

Simms, Labrador MP Todd Russell and Avalon MP Scott Andrews were among eight Liberals who voted in favour of the Conservative motion at an early stage.

Andrews said his concerns have since been assuaged by changes proposed by Ignatieff to axe fees, simplify the registration form and decriminalize offences. Russell echoed those arguments, according to a Canwest News Service report.

Only Simms has yet to indicate how he will vote.

"We'll see," the Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor MP, said in a recent interview on Parliament Hill.

Simms stressed that the bill is still in the early stages, and has yet to even go to committee.

The Conservatives have twisted the knife over potential divisions in the Liberal camp, buying radio ads in ridings held by the eight Liberals who previously voted to scrap the registry.

But Simms is nonplussed.

"I don't need the Conservatives to tell me what the mood is in my riding," Simms said.

He said that mood may be shifting. For most of the past four years, his constituents wanted the registry scrapped. But over the past few months, he said he's received more feedback about keeping it. Simms said he will shop changes proposed by Ignatieff around his riding.

"I'm going to take my time with this issue," he said.

Simms has exhibited a maverick streak in the past.

In 2004, he voted with the Conservatives on a motion that "deplored" the attitude of then-Liberal prime minister Paul Martin on Atlantic Accord talks with Newfoundland and Labrador.

Simms acknowledged he is concerned about what could happen if he ultimately decides to vote with the Tories this time.

"It always worries me," he said. "But there's also consequences to face in the riding, too, which is No. 1. Hey, look, I'm a team player, but Team No. 1 is Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor."

According to reports, Simms is one of only two Liberal MPs still considering whether they will toe the party line.

A vote on Bill C-391 is expected later this year.

Organizations: Conservatives, Canwest News Service, Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor MP

Geographic location: OTTAWA, Newfoundland and Labrador, Grand Falls

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