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Gun registry vote bound to be close; Tories refuse to drop issue

It's going to be close, and it's expected to affect the next election no matter what the outcome.

A vote to scrap the long-gun registry takes place this afternoon after months of debate which have pitted party members against each other while creating a rural-urban divide across the country.

The Conservatives support the Tory private member's bill, while the Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois say their MPs will reject it.

That leaves the fate of the federal registry in the hands of the New Democrats, who are free to vote as they see fit.

In a last ditch attempt to save the registry, the Liberals urged the New Democrats to vote against the bill that has drawn reaction from across the country.

In a debate Tuesday evening, Liberal MP Mark Holland said killing the registry would jeopardize police investigations and could allow criminals to get away with their crimes.

"We heard from somebody who talked about an inquiry in Collingwood, the inquiry clearly said if it had not been for the gun registry, they would not have been able to solve that homicide, period."

But the Tories have long said the money spent to keep the registry running is unjustified and the database itself carries incomplete, and unreliable information.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews reiterated that message in the House of Commons on Tuesday, urging MPs to abolish what he calls a "wasteful" program.

"Our Conservative government knows that criminals do not register long-guns," he said. "The choice is clear for all MPs."

No matter what the outcome, it seems the governing Conservatives refuse to give up on their long-running quest to kill the registry. And they expect the fallout from Wednesday's vote to be felt long after the ballots are tallied.

"If they don't keep their word on something they really campaigned on for so many years, how can they be trusted on any issue," said Tory backbencher Candice Hoeppner, who introduced her bill more than a year ago.

If her bill is blocked, Hoeppner said she expects MPs who voted to keep the registry to pay at the polls.

Over the summer, all four federal parties have used the issue as a rabble-rouser on the barbecue circuit.

For more from the Canadian Press, scroll down the Tyee's main page, or click here.

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