Thursday, September 23, 2010


The vote on the gun registry last night was a major loss for the Conservatives and it has made abolishing the gun registry in the future much more difficult.

It is true, as many Conservative defenders have pointed out today, the loss will probably assist the Conservatives in their fund-raising and it will energize their base somewhat. However, those defenders are missing or at least failing to acknowledge the big political downside of last night’s vote. I will address that in a minute.

The really interesting thing about last night’s vote is it has probably guaranteed the survival of the registry for the foreseeable future. It should be around for a long time.

For about a decade the Conservatives have had the advantage in the debate about the registry because they could always point to the AG report about the cost overruns in building it and then claim is was expensive waste of money. That has changed. Proponents of the registry have been able to credibly refute that claim by demonstrating that it costs very little to maintain the registry and more importantly that it is considered to be a vital tool by law enforcement. As well, the statements by the Ecole Polytechnique survivors leading up to the vote has reminded a lot of Canadians of why the registry was created in the first place. Those considerations will not be forgotten by Canadians and opponents of the registry will find them hard to overcome. Finally, Parliament has spoken. For all but the most ardent opponents of the registry the issue is resolved. Like SSM and abortion, revisiting this issue would not be a popular move amongst the electorate. Certainly Canadians are not embracing the registry but they are not clamouring for its dismantling either. They are probably satisfied with the outcome of the vote and would like to put the issue to bed. Incidentally, if the vote had gone the other way they would feel the same way and any party which proposed resurrecting the registry would be met with disapproval.

From a political standpoint we need to call a spade a spade. The Conservatives lost a key vote at the beginning of a Parliamentary session after what they would consider to be a summer-from-Hell. Anybody that believes that will not have an impact on their political fortunes going forward is dreaming.

As well, Mr. Harper’s statements after the vote will not help him. I realize he had to make them to assuage is base. However, those statements will not help him beyond that base and they could actually hurt him. The much documented supporters of the registry (eg. Quebecers) will not be happy with such statements and Mr. Harper would be hard pressed to win an election let alone a majority without these registry supporters. Mr. Harper really is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Abolishing the registry is not a winning ballot question in most of the country so he needs to change the channel quickly but he will also have to deal with some in his base that will demand he make this an election issue. It will be interesting to see if he can square that circle.

Another consideration is what the vote did to his opponents. After a successful summer tour the Liberals followed it up with a demonstration of severe unity on this vote. Every Liberal member showed up and every Liberal member voted with the Party. The punditry in this country will ignore that fact of course but it will not be lost on Liberal partisans. This summer and early fall has allowed Liberals to feel good about themselves again and that cannot be good news for the Conservatives.

On top of that the NDP completely flubbed this vote and that has weakened them. The only way Conservatives can win elections in this country is by having the NDP siphon off enough votes from the Liberals to allow the Conservatives to win. If the NDP wanes the Conservatives lose.

At the time it must have seemed like a good idea to the Conservatives to attempt to kill the registry by means of a Private Members Bill. Kill the registry and avoid too much political blowback in the process, its win-win. Unfortunately for them the exact opposite has happened. The debate and the concluding vote have actually made killing the registry much more difficult and in the process the political fortunes of the Conservatives have been harmed. I cannot believe any Conservative can be happy with that outcome.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Somebody please check the temperature in Hell

I actually agree with Maxime Bernier on his statements about not using taxpayers funds for a new hockey arena in Quebec City.

Incidentally, I also do not believe governments should finance similar projects in other cities. If these projects are financially viable those pushing them should have no problems finding private investors.

If they are having difficulties doing so that should be a sign.