Monday, September 27, 2010

On confidence matters

I posted earlier about the Harper Cons' cynical manipulation of supporters when it comes to the gun registry. But let's meet about the only point anybody could possibly make in the Cons' defence before it gets made.

It's bad enough that the Cons are claiming to be doing everything in their power to dismantle the long gun registry after never bringing the issue up for a single vote as a government bill. But was there actually a chance for them to pass such a bill if they'd tried?

There, the answer is a clear yes.

After all, it was alongside the Cons' 2007 Speech from the Throne that they introduced their confidence gambit to pressure the Libs, declaring that the defeat of any of their throne speech priorities would result in an election. Which is how the Cons strongarmed the Libs into supporting them on matters ranging from and Afghanistan extension to multiple crime bills.

And that Speech from the Throne included the long gun registry as one of the Cons' potential confidence issues in no uncertain terms:
In addition to tougher laws, our government will provide targeted support to communities and victims. It will help families and local communities in steering vulnerable youth away from a life of drugs and crime, and the Anti-Drug Strategy will help to treat those suffering from drug addiction. It will again ask Parliament to repeal the wasteful long-gun registry.
So how did the Libs respond? Michael Ignatieff said that he didn't see any poison pills in the speech - serving to highlight that the Libs' newfound devotion to the registry doesn't actually reflect anything but recent political calculation. And Stephane Dion introduced an amendment which dealt with several other matters, but didn't even mention the gun registry.

In effect, the Libs didn't just let a throne speech pass which included eliminating the gun registry as a confidence measure. Instead, they also took issue with a number of the Cons' priorities without even hinting that they'd object to having the registry dismantled.

And the Cons chose to do nothing, rather than taking the opportunity to hold a vote to repeal the gun registry.

Again, all of this is aside from the merits of the long gun registry. But with the Cons telling rural voters that the registry is the only issue that matters and that they have some interest in getting rid of it, it's well worth pointing out that the registry only exists today because Stephen Harper chose to leave it in place.

(Edit: fixed wording.)

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