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Scott Simms reveals heartbreaking reason for backing gun registry

Newfoundland Liberal MP Scott Simms votes to keep the gun registry in the House of Commons on Sept. 22, 2010.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Newfoundland Liberal MP Scott Simms may well have the most devastatingly personal reasons for voting to preserve the long-gun registry.

The member for Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor told fellow caucus members Wednesday how his father, Reginald, committed suicide in June with a rifle.

Mr. Simms, of course, is one of the eight Liberal MPs who previously voted with the Harper Conservatives to abolish the registry.

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His disclosure stunned fellow MPs, one caucus member said.

"I don't think this is a speech any of us will ever forget," a Liberal MP told The Globe and Mail. "It was heart-wrenching. I would say half the room was holding back tears."

A second MP told The Globe and Mail that Mr. Simms acknowledged the gun registry would not have saved his father.

But, he reasoned, if it could save at least one life, it would make a difference in some Canadian's life.

Mr. Simms spoke for five to six minutes, colleagues said.

He recalled how a woman in the public gallery overlooking the Commons chamber cried during the vote on the long-gun registry in November 2009. It was then that eight Liberals, including Mr. Simms, and 12 New Democrats, voted to support efforts to kill the registry.

Mr. Simms said at the time he tried to tell the woman he was sorry.

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"He's hoping she will be in the gallery today," the fellow MP recalled.

"I dont think anybody in our caucus who was in the room could possibly vote against the registry at this point."

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About the Authors
Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More

Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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