APTN National News
OPASKWAYAK CREE NATION, Man.–Churchill NDP MP Niki Ashton is facing pressure from her First Nations constituents to break ranks with her party and side with the Conservative government on a vote to scrap the controversial gun registry.
Ashton holds a key vote in the battle over the gun registry and pressure is mounting on the Manitoba MP who has gone to ground in the lead up to the House of Commons showdown excpected early as Wednesday.
Many in the Churchill riding believe Ashton will suffer at the ballot box if she votes with her party on Bill C-391. Her First Nations constituents are pushing Ashton hard to vote for the Conservative bill to kill the controversial registry.
“Our people that have lived off the land have been using our firearms to feed their families with hunting and hunting is one of our traditional sort of gatherings,” said Opaskwayak Cree Nation Chief Michael Constant, from who was packing for a hunting trip. “One of the things I’ve been doing as the leader of the community is reminding our local MP Niki Ashton on this issue.”
Ashton had planned to announce her position on the registry Friday, but abrutly cancelled the press conference.
Now, her own constituents can’t find her.
“She’s been ignoring or not returning our calls on this issue,” said Constant.
Stan McGillivary, who hunts, said he’s called Ashton’s office daily asking her to vote against the registry.
“I would say 90 to 95 per cent of the people up here have a gun or have access to a gun to be able to go out and hunt and look after themselves that way,” said McGillivary. “Because of this gun registry I would have to register every long gun that I have and I fear that because not all of them are registered yet and I won’t be able to pass them down to my children or my grandchildren.
Peter Mclaughlin, who owns Pete’s Pro Tackle in nearby The Pas, Man., said the majority of people in Ashton’s riding want the registry scrapped.
“You cant stop guns being used for violence. people are violent people you know you cant blame the firearms themselves,” he said.