The Conservative campaign to scrap the long-gun registry is poised for defeat next week after NDP Leader Jack Layton announced he's persuaded enough of his rural caucus to vote in favour of killing the Tory bill.
Mr. Layton delivered the news in Regina, where he is meeting with his MPs in advance of the fall session of Parliament.
"My commitment to Canadians was to put forward an approach to fix the registry," Mr. Layton said. "After our discussions, an overwhelming majority of our rural caucus is supporting my approach and I know that this is going to work."
So far, only four of the 12 rural NDP MPs who had previously voted against the registry have announced they would switch their vote. Mr. Layton's remarks suggest that at least three more will make similar announcements when they return to their ridings after the Regina caucus, but he would not confirm names or numbers.
Brad Lavigne, the NDP's national director, suggested the development now puts pressure on Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff to ensure he is able to deliver on a promise to have all of his MPs in the House to vote in favour of defeating the Conservative private-member's bill.
The NDP plans on introducing its own private-member's legislation next week, which will propose changes to the registry that New Democrats say will alleviate rural concerns.
Earlier Tuesday, Liberal House Leader David McGuinty held a news conference in the foyer of the House of Commons claiming there are personal links between the federal Conservatives and the National Rifle Association, a powerful U.S. lobby group. Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre later held a news conference in the same spot to deny Mr. McGuinty's accusations.
Mr. Layton's announcement in Regina means there should be enough votes next Wednesday to defeat the initiative of Tory MP Candice Hoeppner, whose private-member's bill, C-391, would end the long-gun registry.
Ms. Hoeppner, who has been touring the country in support of her bill, predicted on CBC's Power and Politics that rural NDP MPs will pay a political price for switching their vote.
"Obviously there's going to be a lot of Canadians who are in these Liberal and NDP ridings who are very, very disappointed," she said. "They are under the impression that their member of Parliament will vote against the registry. I think many of them will be completely shocked and I don't think the credibility of these MPs will ever be regained in those ridings."
With a report from The Canadian Press