Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gun to their Heads

Radio ads target Liberal MPs who broke ranks on gun registry

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives launched a radio ad campaign today, targeting the ridings of the eight Liberals who voted with them to scrap the gun registry.

In the ads, the Tories say the eight MPs have been ordered by “Liberal boss Michael Ignatieff” to vote to keep the registry.

The ads emulate a news story, featuring the anticipatory-breaking news music and the booming voice of a radio news anchor: “We have breaking news out of Ottawa,” it says. “Plans to scrap the wasteful long-gun registry are now in doubt. The reason? Local member of Parliament (the name of one of the eight MPs is inserted here) has been ordered by Liberal boss Michael Ignatieff to vote to keep the registry.”

The voice then urges “local citizens” to call the MP with their concerns. The MPs’ number is provided, with the ads tailored to each individual riding.


I don't have a problem with this in the least - it's mostly issue based, and there's nothing wrong with targeting MPs who get whipped into line on a vote they'd rather oppose.

The real question is how effective this campaign will be.

Here are how the Liberal Eight fared last election:

Scott Andrews (Avalon): Beat CPC 45% to 35%
Larry Bagnell (Yukon): Beat CPC 46% to 33%
Jean-Claude D'Amours (Madawaska--Restigouche): Beat CPC 47% to 33%
Wayne Easter (Malpeque): Beat CPC 44% to 39%
Keith Martin (Esquimalt--JuandeFuca): Beat CPC by under 100 votes
Anthony Rota (Nipissing--Timiskaming): Beat CPC 44% to 32%
Todd Russell (Labrador): Beat NDP 53% to 24%
Scott Simms (Bonavista): Beat everyone else 'till they were black and blue all over

So unless the Danny-effect wears off in Newfoundland, Keith Martin is the only MP in danger of losing his job over this. And given Martin's maverick streak, it certainly wouldn't surprise me in the least to see him break ranks on this one.

Andrews, while safe, has also shown a rebellious side before - he's the only other MP who I could see flipping (I assume Easter is onside, given how public he's been on this issue).

But, as mentioned before, this vote really comes down to the NDP. So the question is: if Jack whips the vote, would a similar advertising blitz scare enough Dippers?

Well, looking at the 20 NDP MPs who voted for Hoeppner’s bill before, 6 of them won by under 10 percentage points last election.

Malcolm Allen (Welland): Beat CPC by 1.6%
Dennis Bevington (Western Arctic): Beat CPC by 3.8%
Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay Superior North): Beat Liberals and CPC by about 10% each
John Rafferty (Thunder Bay Rainy River): Beat Liberals by 8%
Jim Maloway (Elmwood Transcona): Beat CPC to 5%
Glenn Thibeault (Sudbury): Beat Liberals by 5%, and CPC by 9%

Allen, Bevington and Maloway certainly don't want to see an ad blitz run against them - you can bet they're strongly urging Jack to hold off on whipping the vote, behind the scenes.

So it seems likely that even if Ignatieff and Layton whip the vote, we'll see a few MPs flip. To put the math into context, there are 144 Conservatives and a pair of Tory independents in the house - they'll need 8 MPs to flip in order for the legislation to pass (or 16 to call in sick...).

It's going to take a huge amount of party discipline to shoot this bill down - and I'm skeptical that Ignatieff and Layton have a strong enough hold on their MPs to accomplish that.

27 Comments:

  • CG, If - and yes, I'm saying "if" - more than one or two Liberal MPs break ranks, and God forbid - from your point of view :) - they represent enough votes to see the Bill through third reading:

    What in God's name does Ignatief do then? This would be a repeat of the family-planning-vote fiasco, except worse, because Ignatief has been so public, in advance, about how he's laying down the law on this one.

    Despite my bias, I'm not just trying to pick on the Libs here - Lord knows, Harper would be in all kinds of trouble if his MPs were ignoring the Tory whip at will - but I'm curious what you as a Liberal think MI's options are if any # of Liberal MPs break ranks on this one. Is it time to start chucking MPs out of caucus?

    By Blogger Jason Hickman, at 9:58 PM  

  • "Is it time to start chucking MPs out of caucus?"

    If Ignatieff whips it and they defy him then he has to toss them. At worst Ignatieff risks losing a few rural MPs who are in vulnerable seats anyways but if the NDP doesn't whip then the Liberals actually own a wedge issue for once. That could be used to gain more seats in the next election.

    By Anonymous Whip it!, at 10:31 PM  

  • "Gun to their Heads"

    I think you should apologize for making a physical threat against these MP's.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:42 PM  

  • These are Conservative Party paid for, right? not government of Canada? I'd like to see the receipts....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:48 PM  

  • How about Conservative MPs in urban/suburban ridings where the voters may not take kindly to killing the registry?

    Things could quickly get interesting in a number of ridings in the Lower Mainland, in urban seats in SW Ontario (they took Kitchener-Centre by 300ish votes), in the urbanizing suburbs of the GTA 905 (trended Ontario Liberal last prov elxn) in New Brunswick, and how about Quebec, where there is strong support for the registry?

    There's a whole other side to this debate that is being ignored. The Conservatives need to grow in urban Canada. They made some inroads last time and won some very close races last. Killing the registry will hurt them there.

    By Blogger Jeff Jedras, at 11:03 PM  

  • Are long guns, hunting rifles, a big problem in downtown Toronto these days?

    This is just simple bullying of the West and rural Canadians so as Iffy can flex his 'leaders muscle'.

    Danny's 6 and the Lib Pro Lifers go unpunished,
    but 8 MPs representing rural ridings are expendable, eh.

    This will backfire too.

    By Blogger wilson, at 11:16 PM  

  • I just find it funny that the Liberals would choose this issue
    albatross around their neck, you would think they would want to see it die. At the same time, they would take away a visceral bond between the CPC and their base.

    Unless perhaps the Libs know that the bill will pass and they are trying to pass the onus onto the NDP. Which is fine...the NDP will gain because of it.

    Progressives own guns too. ;)

    I know plenty of self professed progressives that see right through the Liberal firearms agenda, and we live in urban areas.

    If Ignatieff is willing to whip the vote, you better hope every MP is in his/her seat.

    It won't matter anyway. The NDP will NOT whip the vote. The NDP cannot pass laws if they allow private member bills to be hammered.

    Nope, the long gun registry will be in the history books soon.

    Good thing too. Look at New Zealand's experience with universal registration for a good comparison.

    Let's focus on criminals.

    The Canada Firearms Act (C-68) does exactly the opposite.

    Law abiding Canadians deserve protection under the law, not the loss of basic rights or extrordinary scrutiny because they own a gun, or a power saw, kitchen knife or a set of golf clubs.

    We have a firearms license system in Canada, utilized properly it is totally adequate to screen the general populous.

    Fluid lists of small objects is pretty difficult and expensive.

    It is a gun, not plutonium.

    Where does the stupidity end?

    By Blogger Jim, at 11:30 PM  

  • "So it seems likely that even if Ignatieff and Layton whip the vote, we'll see a few MPs flip."

    In my opinion Harper is far more interested in seeing this happen than he is in having this bill pass.

    He probably benefits more if the bill fails than if it passes.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 1:20 AM  

  • Jim,
    If Canadians don't deserve "the loss of basic rights or extrordinary scrutiny because they own a gun", then they should register them. Just like they'd register their car, their truck, their person for a passport, or their dog - since you say you are urban. If the long guns are no problem, then what is your problem with registering them as many other things are? Then even MORE people will be able to enjoy those rights you're so fond of - particularly women, both rural & urban!

    By Blogger CanNurse, at 2:35 AM  

  • A BCer - presumably that's the Liberal gameplan. They wouldn't be whipping the vote if they didn't see this as a vote winner for them in some of the suburban Ontario and Quebec ridings they hope to take back.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:38 AM  

  • If Liberals are whipped on this gun bill, shouldn't they also be whipped on abortion votes as well? If the idea is to appeal to urban female voters?
    Denying MP's the right to vote according to their conscience or constituents means they may wind up voting on Iggy's leadership-with a big "screw you" vote that makes them heroes in their ridings.

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 11:45 AM  

  • CanNurse, you missed my point.

    I suggest that those who wish to comment on the state of firearms law read the Canada Firearms Act.

    The loss of rights I mention has nothing to do with the registry, it has to do with how those who are licensed to own firearms are treated under the law.

    I do believe that registering firearms in general is a useless exercise, but I am a firm supporter of the licensing scheme.

    However, my point is that the entire Firearms Act is flawed law and needs to be rewritten.

    As well, I know many women that are sport shooters and a few are hunters so to me your "particularly women" comment is to me, sexist.

    By Blogger Jim, at 11:49 AM  

  • I'll chime in with Jim on the women point -- having grown up in a rural area, I know a couple women who are experienced with guns for sport shooting.

    By Anonymous jacques beau verte, at 12:05 PM  

  • "If Liberals are whipped on this gun bill, shouldn't they also be whipped on abortion votes as well? If the idea is to appeal to urban female voters?"

    You're mistake with this is that you expect some sort of consistency. Ignatieff has learned that you have to keep everyone guessing what he's going to do next. That way no one will be able to define him.

    The man does not punish those who vote against his own motion on a pretty core liberal value (a woman's right to choose) but is going to whip a private member's bill on a policy issue where reasonable liberals could agree to disagree. It's just a bit incoherent.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:58 PM  

  • This is just simple bullying of the West and rural Canadians so as Iffy can flex his 'leaders muscle'.

    So, you prefer the minority parts of the country bullying the majority then?

    By Blogger Greg, at 2:02 PM  

  • Jeff Jedras said...
    Things could quickly get interesting in a number of ridings in the Lower Mainland, in urban seats in SW Ontario (they took Kitchener-Centre by 300ish votes)

    Better yet, Peter Braid won Kitchener-Waterloo riding by only 50 votes for the CPC.

    Likewise I see Iggy wiping this vote because he's looking to colour all these close contests in SW ONT back to Liberal Red in the next election.

    The CPC can stick to their guns (clever pun there, no?!) and loose the 905 & 519 area codes with this move; and quite possibly government.

    Sure keep up the bravado and continue threatening the Libs that they're loosing rural votes ...as you loose the urban vote in Ontario (85% of ON residents - 2006 StatsCan census). As others have said, there is a whole other side to this issue.

    By Blogger Tof KW, at 3:26 PM  

  • "The CPC can stick to their guns (clever pun there, no?!) and loose the 905 & 519 area codes with this move; and quite possibly government."

    What makes you think 905ers and 519ers care about this issue enough to switch their vote? It's very much in the face of rural voters because they're the gun owners. I'd be surprised if a typical suburbanite noticed the registry was gone. Heck, it's been on amnesty for years now and no one seems to care.

    By Anonymous They probably don't care, at 3:39 PM  

  • "The CPC can stick to their guns (clever pun there, no?!) and loose the 905 & 519 area codes with this move;"

    Or, considering that the Conservatives have always had scrapping the gun registry in their platform and keep gaining Onatario seats, it may mkae no difference.

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 8:26 PM  

  • I have to agree. Scrapping the long gun registry has been a core CPC policy since putting Martin out to sea (clever pun, yes?).

    I can't see them losing any votes over it.

    At least you can go onto the CPC website and read their policy.

    The Liberals? Not so much.

    By Blogger Jim, at 10:46 PM  

  • It's kind of funny how the gun registry was supposedly created as a big pander to urban voters, yet supposedly urban voters won't care if it's killed.

    I love the logic. Just keep driving toward that wall.

    By Blogger Jeff Jedras, at 11:59 PM  

  • Jim said...
    I can't see them losing any votes over it.

    The inclusion of long-guns into the registry came about after a frightening incidence of gun violence against women, perpetrated by a legally purchased hunting rifle. Lepin slipped through the cracks somehow, and the government added an extra layer of protection to help alert authorities in the even of a future episode. It may or may not help with these specific crimes (more likely not) but it is one more tool the police, courts and parole boards use to battle gun crimes.

    The long-run registry is hugely symbolic with women since most violent domestic crimes which involve guns are perpetrated with hunting rifles. The last time I checked, the one big demographic the CPC was having problems cracking was women voters, especially in urban ridings.

    You really want to believe this issue is a win-win for the CPC with no possible downside? You don't notice the media stories on this being ramped up? Doesn't help when you call the Chiefs of Police a liberal funded cult either.

    You just lost Kitchener-Waterloo riding in the next election (all that takes is 26 women voting the other way), and I'll wager a few more close-call urban ridings in SW Ontario. As BCL wrote "Just keep driving toward that wall.

    By Blogger Tof KW, at 9:52 AM  

  • He probably benefits more if the bill fails than if it passes.

    You bet it does. He uses this bill at every opportunity to campaign on and his puppets drink it all in. That bill was passed before he called the GG issue and if Harper was serious about the gun bill, he should have thought about all the bills dealt with in 2009 before he jumped shi and took an Olympic break at our expense yet again. Just like the sleazy person that he is, he is using this gun bill as a tool to get more votes and his puppets are being thrown under the bus for his never ending lies and spins.

    If the bill was passed, he would lose one of his tools to spin and he is not the sort of man to like losses. He is nothing but a control freak, evil to the core and yet he manages to fool his supporters while laughing at them at their own expense

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