Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Long-Gun Registry and Conservative Votes

So, tomorrow is the big day, and if the count is right the long-run registry will still be alive on Thursday - but it will come down to the wire and a handful of votes. The Conservatives are using the issue to hit the NDP over the head for their "flip-flopping" on the registry. It's considered to be a good financing tool and a way to rev-up the base, and some pundits have claimed that having the LGR still around is good for the Conservative Party's electoral chances, particularly as it appears to have weakened the NDP. But are there new votes to get on this issue?

Two polls have come out recently that look at how Canadians feel about the long-gun registry. One is by Angus-Reid and the other is by Harris-Decima. They have very come up with different results, as Angus-Reid has found that 46% of Canadians support scrapping the registry, compared to 40% who oppose scraping it. They also found that while urban Canadians are more likely to want to keep the registry around, still 36% of rural Canadians felt it shouldn't be scrapped.

But then Harris-Decima comes along today, finding that only 38% of Canadians think scrapping the registry is a good idea, compared to 48% who think it is a bad idea. Interestingly, Harris-Decima found that 58% of Conservatives supporters are against the long-gun registry. For the NDP, the party particularly targeted on the issue, only 29% of their supporters are in favour of abolishing the registry.

So it is pretty difficult to reconcile these two polls. They ask slightly different questions, so the difference might lie in there somewhere. But if we average these two out, we get 42% for scrapping and 44% against scrapping. In other words, the country is split.

And the Conservatives are trying to exploit that split. Is that a good idea? The following chart compares Conservative support in 2008 and in the current projection (not the one at the top of the page, the one in my own model with all the latest polls) with support for abolishing the registry in both the Harris-Decima and Angus-Reid polls.As you can see, if we listen to Angus-Reid there are a lot of votes the Conservatives can get on this issue. If we listen to Harris-Decima, there aren't as many.

Out West, this is definitely a vote getter, particularly in the Prairies where both the AR and HD polls show higher support for abolishing the registry than the Conservatives received votes in 2008. But, the party is already almost maxed out in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

In British Columbia, where there is room for some growth, AR tells us that the Conservatives have much to gain - as much 10 points more than in 2008 and 17 points more than their current level of support in the province. But HD tells us that those people are are currently telling people they will support the Tories are almost equal in number to those who want the registry scrapped. This is the province with the most troublesome variance, and also the only real battleground west of Ontario.

In Alberta, the party is maxed out and won't lose any seats because of the registry, even if only 52% of Albertans want it scrapped (according to HD). If 69% of it want it scrapped, as AR argues, then the Conservatives have some room for growth but only one Edmonton seat out of their current clutches.

In Ontario, it appears that support for abolishing the registry could have only limited gains for the party. While 44% in the AR poll are for abolishing it, 36% in the HD poll feel the same way. While the former result is much more support than the party got in 2008 or is polling at currently, the latter result is lower than their 2008 electoral score. So there is a risk that the party is running in Ontario - their support for abolishing the registry could backfire on the Tories.

In Quebec, it seems clear that about 30% are for abolishing the registry, lower than anywhere else in the country. While that would be a stellar score for the Conservatives, it seems unlikely that, based on Quebec's electoral history, this will be a factor driving many Quebecers to the Tory blue.

It gets far more interesting for the Conservatives in Atlantic Canada, where about 44% are for abolishing the registry. That is far greater than the 29% the party had here in 2008 and the 31% they are currently getting in the polls. There is a chance that the party has some room for growth here because of the registry - but if a lot of this support is coming in the rural parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, where the Conservatives are already strong, or in Newfoundland where the mood of Danny Williams can change an election, the prospects for Conservative growth become slim.

Clearly, while the registry can be a vote winner out West and potentially in Atlantic Canada, there isn't much room for Conservative growth. So the Tory pandering to their base on this issue will probably not provide many returns. Considering that the path to a Tory majority lies in the urban parts of the country (which AR found is split on the issue to a greater extent than rural Canadians), their hubbub over the long-gun registry is not going to do them many favours.


  1. Funny thing about this long gun registry. If I wasn't a political junkie I wouldn't be aware of same.

    Speaking to friends and relatives, they aren't even aware that the long gun registry exists, even though they regularly watch the evening tv news.

    With that anecdotal evidence, I would suggest that keeping or abolishing the long gun registry will be of little significance, if any, at the ballot box.

    Most people look at bread and butter issues in terms of casting their ballot - who they prefer as PM, is the government managing the country's affairs properly, employment issues, economic issues, social issues, etc.

    The long gun registry? Nada. My 2 cents.

  2. The data doesn't really pan out to your conclusion Eric.

    "Interestingly, Harris-Decima found that 58% of Conservatives supporters are against the long-gun registry."

    That should mean that 40% of conservatives aren't sure, or want to keep it. So someone else must want to abolish it in order to get the numbers we see. Accordingly, each of those 2 conservative support bars should be reduced by 40% (if not the entire difference, atleast the amount that want to keep it). That would seem to me to allow for a large amount of growth.

    They may indeed lose some of that current support. But as has been shown, abolition of the registry is a stronger held opinion than keeping it. Of course, they may not lose as much.... polling shows higher loyalty among tory voters than other parties (this is why people like Elizabeth May fantasize that the tories are trying to drive voters away because their voters are more motivated)

    And its not just those numbers. Pandering to the base can be important. Volunteers, money, etc are very important... and the more motivated they are to help you the better. Just ask Dion about how motivation is required to get the troops fired up to help.

    From a CBC article:
    "Liberal MP Mark Holland is urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to accept the results of Wednesday's vote on the fate of the federal gun registry and move on."

    What if the vote goes the other way??? Do you think Holland and the liberals will all change their position and lobby the other parties to support the registry if the vote happens to favor it tommorow?

  3. Eric I think you and pundits like Craig Oliver are wrong when you say "the path to a Tory majority lies in the urban parts of the country".

    There's still about 20 "rural" seats left that the Conservatives don't hold.

    There's only about 5-10 "urban", which are better classified as "suburban" seats that the CPC has a shot at.

    Harper is never going to win a landslide majority or make major breakthroughs in Toronto/Montreal.

    He knows his majority if he gets one will be VERY slim.

    He's probably fine with that, it fits his governing style more.

    It looks to me like he's going to run hard in rural ridings and continue to try and make a breakthrough in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

    Montreal and Toronto have been writen off entirely.

  4. Just a thought , but that HD poll can't be right. Probably about 80-90% of CPC voters are united in scrapping it. I'm even buying the AR poll that say a plurality of Canadians favour scrapping it, and only 16% thinks it works.

    Sure vote, and fundraising winner for the CPC if it survives.

  5. The only Liberal seat on Vancouver Island is held by Keith Martin. He won by a slim margin of 68 votes last election over the Conservative candidate Troy de Souza. This riding is STRONGLY opposed to the Registry and after 15 years of opposing it, Keith says will now vote FOR it, just like Stoffer. I can guarantee you he will lose his seat in any future election. Voters will not forget this and sentiment is VERY strong about this betrayal to his constituents.

  6. I think the Long Gun registry goes beyond the polling issues.

    It has exposed some politicians as having no scruples.

    Mr. Easter's seat will almost certainly be a CPC pick up based on his flip-flop.

    Mr. Stouffer really has diminished himself with his stance. 62% of his riding supports the LGR and despite him knowing it is money down the toilet he votes to keep it.


    His real explanation (like the ones used in the non-partisan USA) is that him voting for the LGR and helping Jack and Olivia out in Toronto will be repaid with the NDP pushing for more infrastructure in Peter's riding. (Not believable)

    Maybe the NDP will be able to get extra EI extensions for Peter's people. At least that would be a valid ethical question.

    Dr. Martin in BC seems to be on the outside looking in on the Liberal Party. If he stays away from the vote it will be duly noted and should result in him getting kicked out of caucus (He has already been left out of shadow cabinet). Him showing up to support the LGR will likely cost him re-election.

  7. The Urban support for the LGR seems to me very similar to the Rest of Canada supporting the banning of all vehicles that get less than 30 mpg in Downtown Toronto.

    With the LGR the urbanites want to protect their rural buddies from going on shooting sprees, I guess, or maybe staging an armed invasion of the urban areas?

    With the ban on gas guzzlers in 416 area code would the rural Canadians trying to stop their city buddies from ruining the atmosphere and the very air that they breathe.

    As a follow up point why should anyone own a Long Gun in Downtown Toronto?? All guns should be totally illegal and seized and the owners fined and put on no flight lists if not jail.

  8. LGR costs about 4$million a year to operate.

    But the CPC blew 130$million on advertising last year.

    Wrong headed it seems.

  9. "LGR costs about 4$million a year to operate.

    But the CPC blew 130$million on advertising last year.

    Wrong headed it seems."

    Comparing apples and moonrocks??

    The liberals averaged 110-120 million in recent years on advertising. The conservatives lowered that average to 85-90 million over the first 3 years of their government.

    Now the recession comes along... and we are supposed to be creating jobs. Every other project was a direct out of pocket for the government to create jobs, Don't ad firms deserve stimulus too? OR only people you select in your riding peter?

    But it seems on top of that, there was also a cost for advertising a small flu program to prevent what the experts told us was a pandemic. (I know, I know peter..... Harper was pulling the strings on the virus and the scientists who said that just so he could increase his budget.... oi)

    So 2 large programs ... one nearly 1/4 of the annual budget, and another protecting the health of Canadians. And you don't think those 2 programs are worth increasing the advertising budget 45 million from 85 to 130 million?

    What would have been the difference in the other guys? going from 120 - 130? ....right

  10. "Proponents of the federal gun registry claim the annual cost is just $4-million, which sounds suspiciously like the $2-million cost promised when the registry was born 15 years ago."


    "It’s not so. The source of this estimate of $4-million appears to be a badly written line in the RCMP’s 2010 evaluation of the Canadian Firearms Program: “ . . . the gun registration portion of the CFP has been determined, by independent sources, in terms of cost savings to the CFP, at a range of $1.195-$3.65 million for the initial year, and subsequent years will range from $1.57-$4.03 million. . ..” (Emphasis added.) The key phrase is cost savings. The RCMP, which took lead responsibility for the program in 2006, claims it is doing so more efficiently than its predecessors. Elsewhere in the report the RCMP puts the annual net cost of the Canadian Firearms Program for 2010-11 at $66.4-million."


    Who's lying and spinning Peter? You or the RCMP?

  11. You say there isn't much room for growth out west, but issues like this will protect them against losing support when they do things like build stadia in Quebec.

    This is just a continuation of their strategy to target specific segments of the population with each issue. They're never trying to please everyone. They're just trying to please enough different groups often enough to keep their votes.

  12. Took some time to find... but the vote on the registry appears to be scheduled for approximately 5:45 ET.

    Now I just have to find a place that will be covering it. Hoping it's on radio and I won't have to come back to the TV to catch it.

  13. We are beginning to sound worse than question period with references to Goebbels's and Nazi's, calling each other liars and constantly telling each other that we are "spinning" the story. Both sides use this kind of language all the time. Perhaps we could use words like misleading and other phrases like "not telling the entire truth' or even "obvious omissions". et's try and be gentlemen and women! It would also be great not see anger in the posts. If someones views anger you to the point that you can't control yourself please ignore that poster, rather than slam him or her. We are not going to change any minds on here and the language we are using only serves to prevent real debate. How about it, all? Eric your thought would be very welcome.

  14. I agree entirely. It would be nice if everyone would calm down.

  15. OT guys, but tied to the conversation on prohibition we were having earlier.

    Two articles about it today. This good one by George Jonas points out the obvious fact, that black markets can be profitable.

    This great one by Dan Gardner points out how U.S./Canadian prohibition contributes to drug wars in Mexico, and Latin America.

    Mr.Harper argues that we can't consider making cannabis legal, due to it being a source of revenue for drug cartels.

    The reality is that our prohibition laws make drugs a huge, and profitable market, run entirely by criminal elements.

    "Cracking down" on illicit drugs only drives the price up. Wrong direction CPC.

  16. AJR79:

    What faulty logic by Harper. If Marijuana was legal it would presumably be supplied by licensed Canadian suppliers. Surely Harper doesn't envision the government dealing with drug cartels to get their marijuana anymore than the Crown run liquor stores deal with bootleggers and not distilleries. And to say Harper is a serious man!

  17. AJR79 and Earl that article by Dan Gardner is extremely problematic because he keeps mentioning pot.

    I strongly doubt very much marijuana is imported from mexico/south america.

    That's cocaine. Bud is grown in BC.

    So this is a red herring, unless you think we should "consider legalizing the production, distribution, and sale of" cocaine.

    I don't want hard drugs sold at the corner store.

    (With pot you'd have a better argument regarding stopping the flow of illegal handguns coming north, which are traded for pot going south by cross border drug cartels. Even then though its still up to the Americans who control what can be imported.)

  18. Shadow,

    Pot is mentioned exactly twice. This article is about drug prohibition as a whole.

    The first use:

    "In July, some of the world's leading public health experts collectively condemned international drug prohibition and called on governments to conduct "a transparent review" of current policies. But the Harper government blew them off. And the opposition? Michael Ignatieff said he wouldn't even consider something as trivial as marijuana legalization because it would annoy the Americans."

    He uses it to say that Iggy won't even consider the first, most trivial step towards ending drug prohibition.

    The other use is a brief mention of the Prop 19 vote in California. The Fox quote in the previous bit was not about pot either.

    If the article is problematic, it is not for the reason you claim.

    This article clearly includes the cocaine trade.

  19. And I may not want cocaine available at the corner store, but neither do I want people killing each other over it.

    Time to come up with real solutions, instead of making excuses.

  20. AJR79 the article mentions only one drug, which is pot, by name twice.

    Out of place and weird in an article about Latin American Drug Wars.

    Perhaps because readers are sympathetic to the idea of relaxing laws around pot while far less sympathetic to relaxing them around coke ??


    You say the Fox quote wasn't about pot. Obviously not.

    So why then directly link the two as Gardner does ?

    "Fox's bold statement didn't come from nowhere. Disgusted with the seemingly endless violence, Mexicans are increasingly talking about legalization as a way to undermine the drug gangs. It also helps that Californians will vote Nov. 2 on a referendum to legalize marijuana."

    You're forgive the reader for not realizing that the kind of legalization Mexicans are talking about is DIFFERENT than the kind of legalization Californians are talking about.

    Then the article goes on to talk about how presidents of Costa Rica, Mexico, and Columbia are supportive or sympathetic to legalization.

    Legalizing pot like in California ? Or something else altogether ?

    I'm calling Dan Gardner out on his problematic inclusion of marijuana references into an article on the South American drug trade.

    I'm not sure why you're defending him when you usually are quite critical of people who are intellectually dishonest.

  21. I can't wait to keep debating this for decades to come.

  22. Long gun vote:

    153 yea to the committee motion to kill the bill before 3rd reading.

    151 No.

    The bill passes, and Hoeppner's private members bill is in theory dead in this session.

    Iggy was able to whip his entire caucus. And the Big guns that the NDP pulled out were able to cajole enough NDP votes (amazing how long held convictions that those ndp members still say they hold can be layed aside just in hate for the government)

    Harper re-committed the Government to continue fighting the registry in the future.

  23. Barcs there is NOTHING to stop Harper from re-introducing this as a private members bill in the senate.

    Have it pass the senate.

    Prorogue parliament this winter.

    BAM! Another vote in the spring over the registry.

    Keep the heat on these guys!

  24. What we need is a poll of the salience of the gun registry issue between urban and rural areas. Even if scrapping the gun registry was massively unpopular, the issue could be a win for the Tories if it was a highly salient issue for those in favour of scrapping, and a minor issue for those opposed.

  25. Shadow,

    After you're done with calling Gardner out, how about you address his premise. I know you and I both understand what is involved.

    And since you are so big on intellectual honesty today, I'm sure you'll want to call SH out on his dishonesty by conflating the legal weed question, and drug cartels.

    Q. "A majority of Canadians, when polled, say they believe marijuana should be legal for adults, just like alcohol. Why don’t you end the war on drugs and focus on violent criminals?”

    A. "...Now, I also want people to understand what we’re really talking about here when we’re talking about the drug trade. You know, when people say focus on violent crime instead of drugs, and yeah, you know, there’s lots of crimes a lot worse than, you know, casual use of marijuana. But when people are buying from the drug trade, they are not buying from their neighbour. They are buying from international cartels that are involved in unimaginable violence and intimidation and social disaster and catastrophe all across the world..."

    Nice little bait and switch on the Question vs. Answer there, eh Shadow?

    Why do you think he was so intellectually dishonest, and will you now call him out on his BS?

  26. I've already been well over the first use in the Gardner article.

    Now to your contention that Prop-19 has nothing to do with the international drug trade.

    Do you think Mexico exports any pot to California? Does this help fund Mexican drug cartels?

    If so, then I guess it is kinda relevent to the discussion.

    What's harder to figure out is PM Stephen Harper answering a question about legalizing weed, with a rambling rant about drug cartels.

    Mexico probably doesn't export alot of weed to Canada.

    Who would you say is being more dishonest?

    (And no, even thou Gardner should've mentioned cocaine, I still don't find the article dishonest; as I thought it was pretty clear either way)

  27. Shadow, I thought that a bill killed by committee in a session prevented both the house, and the senate from introducing a similar bill (in the same session).

    Even if he did as you suggest, the new bill would meet the same fate immediately after coming back into the house next session. Something has to change first. I don't think Just keeping the topic on top is enough to keep the push on. Better to tuck it away till the election. However far off that might be.

  28. AJR79 there is no bait and switch in Harper's answer.

    The question is two parts which he addresses.

    Part a - people think pot should be legal

    Part b - end the war on drugs and focus on violent crime

    Answer to part a - yeah pot ain't that bad

    Answer to part b - drug cartels kill people, they ARE violent crime.

    Seemed rather self explanatory to me.

    AJR79 you seem to be under the impression that legalizing pot will end drug cartels.

    However, the Americans still won't allow its importation, which is where the huge market is. And the feds control the border so it doesn't matter what the states do.

    So we'll still have drug cartels growing pot to illegally smuggle across the border and sell to Americans.

    The stuff they make will probably be cheaper too (no taxes!!).

    So yeah, people will probably still be buying from the illegal cartels as Harper says. Seems like a good idea to shut them down, no?

  29. "Answer to part a - yeah pot ain't that bad

    Answer to part b - drug cartels kill people, they ARE violent crime.

    Yep they are but if drugs are legalized there won't be any drug cartels, will there ?

    Big Pharma will take over.

  30. Legalizing pot in Canada won't bankrupt drug cartels. We are obviously a tiny market compared to the USA.

    However, it doesn't mean we can't lessen their control in our country. If drugs are bought legally in a store like the Liquor Store then the vast majority of citizens will probably purchase from that source, just like they do with their booze.

    Regulation and control, in theory, means that the product would have safety and quality controls. That means you don't need to worry about getting a batch of "bad pot" and if you do it could be returned just like a defective bottle of alcohol could be.

    It would also allow otherwise law abiding citizens to purchase their product without the need to meet with a drug dealer in some alley somewhere. If I was going to buy drugs and I had a choice between going to the liquor store or going to a back alley to meet some criminal I think I'll pick the brightly lit store thank you very much.

  31. John Smith any regulation and control would cost $$$ (Pesticide bans? Hiring farm inspectors? Testing % of THC?), saving money is one of the arguments for legalization.

    Try taxing the stuff and people will go back to buying where its cheapest, which is cartels.

    So either the government has to subsidize the stuff or its very expensive or its unsafe and they get sued.

    (BTW alcohol is NOT pot. You could be drinking grain alcohol or anti-freeze if you buy it from a stranger. With pot you know its bad straight away. Plus safety has never stopped drug users before.)

    Instead of a liquor store i'd suggest a farmer's market ?

    You'd just have to watch out to make sure it was actual farmers growing the stuff and not drug cartels controlling everything.

    And you'd need police to make sure nobody steals anything.

    I have no problem discussing the decriminalization (but not legalization) of marijuana.

    What's insane is this idea of legalizing cocaine like Dan Gardner seems to be suggesting !

  32. Shadow,

    I see you have little interest in challenging the Gardner premise, except to call it "insane".

    I also noticed you deflecting debate with this gem,

    "AJR79 you seem to be under the impression that legalizing pot will end drug cartels."

    There is nowhere I said or implyed any such thing. My posts have explictly stated the opposite. That is what a real textbook strawman looks like.

    I only ever suggested that Prop-19 could put a dent in Mexican drug cartels bottom line. Do you disagree with that?

    Now look at you last post, when talking about pot.

    "Try taxing the stuff and people will go back to buying where its cheapest, which is cartels."

    "You'd just have to watch out to make sure it was actual farmers growing the stuff and not drug cartels controlling everything."

    Dude, the shame of that BS should burn. You just have no interest in honestly debating policy if it conflicts with your (CPC) politics.

    When Garder mentions pot twice in a long article about drug prohibition it's intellectually dishonest. But when the PM conflates the two much more closly, it's honest Abe all the way.

    You yourself are way more guilty then either of them, in your last post, and I'm "calling you out".

    Warning, Extreme cognitive dissonance alert!!!

  33. Shadow:

    Very good point on the costs of regulation, etc... I hadn't considered that. Carrying it further though there could be some savings from law enforcement targeting pot users.

    I disagree somewhat on taxes and price. Certainly if the government jacks the price up to some ridiculous amount then people will buy the illegal product - after all the dealers are all still here right now so the "drug dealing infrastructure" is still in place. But the taxes we pay on alcohol in this country are very high and most liquor seems to be purchased legally.

    I also think with an illegal product at least part of the cost is for risk - risk that you might go to jail for selling it, risk that your shipment gets intercepted by the police, etc... Organized crime would (i think) calculate those costs into the price they offer to street level dealers. If it was a regulated/legalized environment that risk would be lessened, although as you mentioned the risk of lawsuits exist so maybe it's a wash there, ha.

    As for farmers markets, I dunno..but it certainly has the potential to be a cash crop for farmers who often struggle to make a decent living.

    No cocaine or heroin or any of those things should be legalized/decrim/etc... In fact i think once you provide a legal route to recreational drugs the penalties for those drugs that remain illegal should be jacked up.

  34. wow no differance at the ballot box.
    The long gun registery was fairly high profile. I believe that if the conservatives don't follow through with this promise the next election will be very different.


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