The following article was written by the National Firearms Association’s National President, Blair Hagen.
As the title implies, it concerns the aftermath of the recent Canadian federal election which was held on October 14th, 2008. It’s a somewhat lengthy read, but id definitely worth the time. It is a heartening message of patience, determination and, perhaps most importantly, an optimism that has been too much absent in the Canadian firearms community for several years now (pretty much since the passage of Bill C-68 in 1995). It is also probably the most insightful election post mortem that you are going to find written from the point of view of an average Canadian gun owner, concerned with the future of his rights.
The message is simple: it isn’t happening in a hurry, but we are winning.
So please read on, it will probably be the best time you’ve wasted all day…
National Firearms Association Post Election Synopsis
Freedom won a very great victory yesterday.
Many of you will not see it this way. A large portion of the firearms community is politically conservative, many are card carrying members of the Conservative Party of Canada, and many are deeply involved in the Canadian conservative movement.
Conservatives are eternal pessimists. Many believe that unless they achieve complete and total political victory immediately, their cause is lost. That unless they have the political power and means to effect immediate and drastic change, their efforts are meaningless.
The positive side of this is that it engenders lots of hard political work, especially during elections. And despite the disappointment of many Conservatives that a clear parliamentary majority was not won, this is a victory.
Gun Control in the 2008 Campaign
Gun control was not a major issue nationally in the 2008 election campaign.
On the pro gun control/civil disarmament side, announcements of assault weapons bans and handgun ban policies from the Liberal and NDP parties were engineered to shift the small number of pro gun control votes on the left. Centered in Eastern Canadian leftist/Liberal enclaves of Toronto and Montreal, the gun control vote barely manifested itself. The gun control lobby survives politically only due to it’s benefactors in the city governments of Toronto and Montreal, and provincial governments of Ontario and Quebec. We have had a major national tragedy, the Dawson College shooting of September 2006, that the gun control lobby have attempted to capitalize on. The continuing lawlessness and criminal gun play by gangbangers on the streets of Toronto, which the mayor has attempted to whip up into a demand for a national handgun ban.
Their efforts have failed to re ignite a demand for more gun control from Canadians. The Two Billion Dollar Liberal Gun Registry is a stark reminder to Canadians of the failure of gun control and gun bans as social policy.
On the pro freedom side, the firearms vote held for the Conservatives in this campaign. Despite immense frustration at the government’s inability to address the issue in the last parliament, the firearms community renewed it’s investment in the Conservative Party and this government by turning out to support CPC candidates financially, and on the ground, riding by riding in the 2008 campaign. Promises of more firearms bans and the gun control agendas from the Liberal and NDP parties greatly motivated the firearms vote, where apathy, cynicism and frustration threatened to keep that firearms vote at home at the beginning of this election campaign. It is evidently clear that the gun control issue motivates pro gun voters more so than it does anti gun voters in Canada today.
The edifice of the 1995 Liberal C68 Firearms Act continues to motivate the firearms vote, and the firearms community has made it quite clear that the debate will not end until the Liberal Firearms Act is replaced by this government. As long as the Liberal and NDP parties embrace gun control in their party policies, as long as they continue to promote and advance confiscatory gun control agendas, they will fail to offer alternatives for the firearms vote.
The Liberal and NDP parties continue to fail to realize that the firearms vote is not an inherently Conservative vote. The firearms community is as diverse as Canada itself, with political attitudes spanning the spectrum. As long as these parties continue to advance gun control agendas, this vote will continue to go to the Conservatives. The Conservative Party of Canada continues to offer the best firearms policies for Canadians.
The Opposition Parties
The Liberal Party of Canada has suffered a very great defeat in this election. A far greater defeat than it’s partisans and pundits in the mainstream media are letting on. They lost seats in Ontario, and nationally. Very shortly, they will be fully involved in a leadership campaign to replace failed leader Stephane Dion. The two front running candidates will be Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff.
This will be a battle for the heart and soul of the Liberal Party.
If Bob Rae becomes leader, this will signal a hard left wing shift for the Liberals. They will go after traditional NDP supporters and attempt to coalesce the left wing vote in Canada.
If Michael Ignatieff becomes Liberal Party leader, this will signal that the Liberal Party will seek to reclame the center vote from Stephan Harper’s Conservatives.
A view of the current political, economic and social landscape in Canada indicates that Michael Ignatieff is the far more dangerous candidate for the firearms community of Canada.
Bob Rae as Liberal leader would be clearly unacceptable for the majority of Canadians. His mishandling of the Ontario economy as NDP Premier undermines his chances in Ontario, As an Anglophone, this handicaps his chances of re igniting Liberal support in Quebec. His Ontariocentric view of Canada and his socialist policies makes him unacceptable to western Canadians. He might have a reasonable chance of coalescing the left wing vote in Canada, but this will depend on the resilience of the NDP. His chances of ever becoming prime minister would be slim, and dependent on a major falling out of favor of the Conservative Party with Canadians.
Michael Ignatieff represents a moderate, centrist vision of the Liberal Party that harkens back to the governments of Martin and Chretien. He might prove to be attractive to Canadians nationally, and reclaim some of the vote lost in the last two elections, especially in Ontario. A failure of the Harper Conservatives to prove to Canadians sound and prudent leadership during these difficult economic times could position Ignatieff as a viable alternative as Prime Minister.
The NDP did well in the 2008 election with 37 seats, but failed to make the major breakthrough of replacing the Liberals as official opposition. Whether this effects NDP leader Jack Layton’s fortunes is as yet unclear. There is no heir apparent in that party for leader, so at this time his position is relatively strong, but if Bob Rae becomes Liberal leader, Layton will be hard pressed and challenged to hold on to his share of the national vote.
Stephane Harper returns as Prime Minister with a renewed mandate. Much is being made of his failure to achieve a majority in this election by the mainstream media and many political pundits. The national media and political culture are frightened. After failing to ignite Stephane Dion’s campaign, the goal became to deny Harper’s Conservatives their majority, or limit them to the same mandate they had at the beginning of the campaign. Preferably less.
The Conservatives have achieved a strong minority in parliament. They have made gains nationally, in both Ontario and B.C. The firearms community can work with this. The Prime Minister has indicated that he will govern as if he has a majority regardless. The firearms community must guide the government towards the formation of good replacement legislation for the Liberal Firearms Act. Having done so, the government must feel confident it bringing it forward for a vote.
The Way Forward
Very quickly, National Firearms Association will be communicating to the firearms community on how we all must reconnect with our Conservative government, and our Conservative MP’s. The government will shortly be assessing their renewed mandate from Canadians, and deciding how to best implement it’s legislative agenda.
In the last parliament, the best the government felt it could do were Bills C-21 and C-24. These two bills were clearly unacceptable to the firearms community as replacement for the hated Liberal Firearms Act. If the government resurrects these bills, they will be making a very great mistake.
The firearms community must immediately contact this Conservative government and remind them of this fact. National Firearms Association will shortly be giving instructions on how to do this. Everyone must participate. Until the Liberal Firearms Act, with all of it’s freedom destroying regulations, has finally had a stake driven through it’s heart, the firearms community will continue to have this sword of damoclese wavering over it’s head.
It’s still early, and there are still many unknowns involved, but the fact is clear; The Reform/Alliance/Conservative Party has a long standing policy and promise of addressing the immense national wrong and shame of the Liberal C68 Firearms Act.
The government had legitimate excuses in the last parliament for not moving forward in a pro active way in replacing the Liberal Firearms Act.
With their re election with a strong minority and their renewed mandate from Canadians, those excuses no longer hold. Still, the government is 12 seats short of an absolute majority, so when a vote on replacement firearms legislation does come forward, the firearms community will have to do it’s part in making sure that opposition party members do the right thing in supporting the government.
Not only is it up to the government to keep it’s long standing promise to replace the Liberal Firearms Act, it’s up to us to assist them in making it happen.
Many of you will not remember the dark days of 1995, when the Liberal Party had a majority government, the Bloc Quebecois were the federal opposition, and the Reform Party was hated and actively maligned by the mainstream media and the eastern dominated national political culture. It seemed that the firearms community of Canada’s days were numbered, and that we would inevitably go down the same dark road as our British and Australian cousins.
The political advances and gains we have made since this time simply amaze me. In 1995, Reform Party MP Stephen Harper ever becoming Prime Minister was simply unthinkable. Today, it is fact. A paradigm shift has taken place in Canadian politics. We are not the same country we were in 1995, and the very nature of the firearms issue in Canada today reflects this.
We will replace the 1995 Liberal C68 Firearms Act. It is a historic inevitability. We will assert our proud Canadian cultural tradition of firearms ownership, we will defeat the forces of civil disarmament, and we will secure our firearms freedom and our firearms tradition’s place in our national culture.
National Firearms Association