Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why The Wedge Works

I was a bit surprised at first, just how aggressive the Liberals are on this gun registry front. However, the more you digest the possible ramifications, playing hardcore wedge politics with the NDP, on this file, makes perfect sense.

Brad Lavigne articulates the emerging NDP retort (twitter):
"bradlavigne #lpc has lost almost every rural seat it held in 2000. Today it announced it is writing-off what is left"

I've also heard that Layton's press conference yesterday was part of a wider strategy, which I think Lavigne articulates above. To be honest, this supposed "strategy" looks like reactionary damage control, certainly not a preferred thrust.

It could be true, that the Liberals risk further eroding what is left of their support in rural Canada. However, as Lavigne himself notes, the Liberals have pretty much lost their way in rural Canada anyway, so one wonders. It becomes particularly interesting when you counter the potential gains, and it is here that this wedge makes perfect sense.

If you peruse the last election results, riding by riding, you will find that rural seat pickups are mostly a pipedream for the Liberals. On the other hand, when you look at urban, suburban seats, you see dozens in the 5-10% back range- it is these seats that will make or break Liberal fortunes. An added dynamic, vote splitting in those key ridings, which reveals the true wisdom of this wedge play. Even if the overall voting is a wash (lose some in rural, pickup some in urban), it's translates to positive electoral weighting.

In addition, and I believe this facet to be the true kicker- kill Mulclair, kill the NDP in Quebec. Outremont was already setting up to be a herculian battle, but with today's speech by Ignatieff, it becomes even more pointed. A bold move, naming Mulclair, but not a reckless one, that's for certain. If the Liberals can knock off Mulclair in Outremont, the NDP dream in Quebec is dead, we go back to virtual oblivion. On the wider front, if you can shave a few points off the NDP support in Quebec, then that makes the Liberals all the more the defacto federalist option, once again. In Quebec, there is no downside for the Liberals to come out strong on the gun registry, particularly when the upstart is vulnerable.

The Liberals have already been hammered in rural Canada over the gun registry, the damage so clearly done. I suspect the NDP strategy is no such thing, an after the fact, make the best of it reaction. On the other side, the more you think it through, the more it looks shrewd for the Liberals to push this issue with fervor, drive the wedge.


Steve V said...

Just to add, a nice, solid, raucous demarcation line between the Libs and NDP is also advantageous to blunt the "coalition" angle coming from the Cons.

Gayle said...

My thoughts exactly. Whatever votes the LPC were going to lose over this registry were lost since 1995. Supporting its abolishment is not going to bring them back.

Isn't Lavigne being a little hypocritical here? I thought the official NDP position was in favour of the registry?

Robert said...

Liberals can't win an election on urban seats even if they win them all which they wont because if you look at the polling the gun registry at the best of times polls around 30% in English Canada. It is a dumb play but I guess they only thing they got.

Maybe they can pick one seat up in Quebec because of this and from what I can tell the Liberals would give up 10 seats to win that one. I welcome to but don't cry when it happens.

Steve V said...

You really need to review the last election results, riding by riding. Your "analysis" is clueless. Sorry.

Robert said...

They really aren't. From the last poll on it.

BC 45%
AB 59%
MB/SK 65%
On 42%
PQ 32%
ALT 53%

BC 28%
AB 24%
MB/SK 25%
On 34%
PQ 51%
ALT 26%

The rest are don't knows. So if you think half these people are one issue voters and will only vote of the registry (which they wont) you wont gain any votes. You are going to lose votes or keep the ones you have.

It is a losing issue because the only place there is room to grow on those numbers is Quebec. However the Bloc already has that stance so there is no room to grow.

If you think the only people in Atlantic Canada supporting the registry are urban those numbers don't mesh. Looks to me in English Canada it is both urban and rural voters calling for it to go. You are going to be losing voters. Good luck with that you lost me.

Steve V said...

I don't know if you follow this blog, but I've posted those results. I've also argued that the gun registry isn't popular with Canadians, time and again. However, the game is changing here, as different people line up to support or reject, coupled with reports, factual support. There is pressure growing, and I don't think these polls reflect new realities to be honest. My view is evolving, and I was a scoffer, so don't take my support here as partisan inspired (my fellow Libs will confirm that I have always questioned public % for keeping).

I can sense worry from the NDP, public and inferred. If what you are positing is true right now, why the angst? This is a fluid situation, and the wedge is working.

I would add, the Liberal compromise takes some sting out. These MP's that were against, now have something tangible to justify the changed position. Don't discount that, particularly for an incumbent.

Steve V said...

BTW "Robert", the fact your nic goes nowhere makes me think you a troll. You might not last much longer :)

Steve V said...

Although it is very AMUSING to have a Con troll defending their NDP brethren :)

Steve V said...

A quote from Cuzner, the Liberal whip:

"“The voter (who) hated Liberals since 1995 because of the gun registry, they’ll never vote for us regardless, but Canadians who understand this is about protecting police officers, they understand,” he said. “It’s not going to motivate them to vote against us. We’re very comfortable in that.”

Totally agree.

Robert McClelland said...

I've lost track. How many times does this make that the Liberals and their bloggers have launched a fullscale assault on the NDP that have gotten them nowhere?

Steve V said...

Oh goodie, the guy with zero credibility, here to defend his orange bride. Yawn.

Robert said...

Sorry Steve I am progressive through and through. I would never vote for Harper, however I am also a populist and I believe the people of Canada have made up their minds. In that I think they should be listened to.

Here is one thing when something has been around for 15 years it is awful hard to spin. I don't think any of these report will be changing anyones mind. I suggest you go to this article from the CH and just look at the comments.


The Liberals have half the seats in NS but yet 51% aginst and only 26% for? The Liberals won NS with 30% of the vote last time. Good luck in Newfoundland with this view there goes 4-6 seats next election pick ups for the Conservatives. People aren't buying it.

Even in the cities people are saying "hand guns are what kill down here". Urban voters might be for the registry but they wont vote on that issue.

I think in the end the Liberals will only win strengthening their base and maybe that is what they need right now but they are losing a lot of rural voters right now.

If you want to ban that is fine however not listening to those who tell you not to shoot yourself in the foot is probably a bad idea. Doesn't mean those who politic don't do it all the time.

Steve V said...


Stay pragmatic here, things are changing rapidly. You're not allowing for recent events, just citing data that may not quite address what's going on. My gut tells me things are changing- and I've argued against for the last two years.

Robert said...

I don't think they are changing. I think this is issue will be like most wedge issues it is about change. Just like gay marriage or stem cell's. It isn't about the actual issue it is about how it is seen.

When and if the the gun registry is scrapped, people will yell as loud as they can for a month. After the average voter (who you really need to win over) will say "wait this does not effect me at all" and they will move on. Liberals will scream about during the election for three days it wont gain traction because there is a new status quote and we will move as a country. That is how wedge issues work.

Mark my words unless there is an election before Christmas this wont be an election issue. A very small minority might vote on the issue, and I believe those who do will be Conservatives. Seriously wait and see.

Anya said...

Boy, the trolls are all over the G&M, CBC.
Isn't it time the Liberals started running down the NDP, as Layton can be quit caustic toward Michael Ignatieff.

Steve V said...

" Layton can be quit caustic toward Michael Ignatieff."

How MANY times have the NDP played this game, and now they get all offended. It's great hilarity, as a former NDP voter.

Robert McClelland said...

The NDP doesn't need me to defend them from liberal attacks, Steve. As the last few elections--with the continuing loss of seats by the Liberals and gains by NDP--have proven, these attacks are going nowhere.

Steve V said...


This is a massive issue in Quebec. Now you're contradicting yourself. If it's not going to be an issue by Christmas, then why are you trying to argue harm to the Libs? You don't get it both ways, and frankly you seem to have tunnel vision here. Anyways....

Robert said...

It isn't the Trolls Anya. It is the majority. I know this can be hard to grasp sometimes (and really as an NDP voter I get it) but sometimes what you think is right isn't supported but the majority. That seems to be the problem here poll after poll has the registry support going down. There must be a reason.

Steve V said...

"That seems to be the problem here poll after poll has the registry support going down."

Not true, it's been consistent for the last couple of years.

Love to see a new one...

Robert said...

Steve V I get it is a massive issue in Quebec the problem with that is there in no room for the Liberals to grow there. I mean honestly if the gun registry is killed you might kill off the NDP in Quebec (problem is you may very well drive those voters to the Bloc).

So you are trading one seat and maybe and handful in Vancover BUT you are giving up ones in Newfoundland, Yukon. It is a even sum game, however you also lose being a national party. You can't be a national party with only MPs in the cities. I get you are playing to the base but it seems like a bad play to me.

You might win Olivia's to. But I don't see it playing anywhere else with the numbers. Seriously look at them hard.

Steve V said...

I have looked hard. We won't lose all our rural seats over this issue, not with the compromise. If you can't consider that, and just stick to this stubborn all or nothing, well...

I think you're dead wrong.

Robert said...

And I don't think you will gain that many seats on this issue either. I think will be a wash but it will strengthen Harpers Mandate. He will be able to say that you guys are an Urban party and point to your seat count.

He already says you are a Toronto party. This is only going to help that next election. I think is a mistake but maybe just maybe you are playing the long game. I can't see that far into the future but I really don't get it.

Steve V said...

"He already says you are a Toronto party."

Where did I says that?

Anyways, maybe you can make the point an even dozen times? Snore.

Robert said...

I ment Harper.

Jeff Jedras said...

Robert, you need to look more closely at those Angus Reid numbers. They also say a plurality of Canadians (45%, iirc) favour a complete ban on all guns, long and hand. What does that mean, when taken with the numbers you quoted? I think its a mistake to say all those people want the registry done away with completely and forgotten. I believe a good chunk of them want it reformed or strengthened, or replaced with something stronger. Those numbers aren't as black and white as they look at first glance.

Robert said...

NO I believe that Canadians are for gun control. Problem is a registry does nothing to CONTROL guns at all. See this is the issue the Liberals are missing.

If they were debating a way to Control gun, that means, backround checks, or the banning of guns, or anything really to make it harder to get a gun they might have a point. However the Liberals are debating on a registry that does nothing to control how many guns people can gave, or that is even enforcable. Canadians get that. That is why I think is a losing issue.

Steve V said...

"Problem is a registry does nothing to CONTROL guns at all. See this is the issue the Liberals are missing. "

It's not the Liberals anymore. Now, you're saying the chiefs, the RCMP, the emergency workers, etc. That's the new part of this equation, which you won't even entertain.

Robert said...

But not Canadians Steve that is the real problem. Not Canadians. Until someone explains why the gun Reg is good to Canadians with out saying things like "it is misunderstood" or that "you would not get it, it is to complex", or "it is already built and only costs a few million a year," Canadian wont support it.

Seriously I see people saying to protects the police and I ask how? It protects women and I ask how? That is what Canadians are saying. Please explain Liberal Party of Canada how? That is why kill the gun registry enjoys a 10 point lead of over keep it. No one has told Canadians how. They just tell them CAUSE WE SAID SO. We are tired of that.

How does it Control guns. Don't tell me how says it does, tell me how it is done. We live a much more skeptical world today and people want to be informed. No one will inform them though.

Steve V said...

Doesn't matter what I say, you just go back to the previous reality and ignore everything since. I'm done.

Robert said...

Again How? That is what Liberals will have to do to turn this into a real issue is tell how.

CathiefromCanada said...

Personally, I have been opposed to the registry because I want the Liberals to be able to elect people in the prairies again -- getting Harper out and the Liberals in is a much more worthwhile achievement in the long run than keeping the long gun registry. However, that said, I have realized that the Liberals absolutely must whip this vote, maintaining consistency with Liberal reality-based policy, rather than allowing the Tories to tie them up in procedural knots about supposedly sacrosanct free votes on private members bills.

Steve V said...


That's the thing, I'm not a great lover of the registry either. I see both sides to a certain extent, but I'm drawn to the pro side, simply because that's what the people in the field WANT. I suspect my modified position isn't unique. There are very rigid people on both sides, and then there is the moderate middle that can move.

Jeff Jedras said...

It's curious how some people believe they speak for all "Canadians" and that, therefore, anyone who disagrees with them must somehow not be "Canadian." I'm pretty sure I'm Canadian, and I'm pretty sure I still think Robert is wrong. He's wrong, but still Canadian. Probably.

Steve V said...

Jeff Jedras is a Canadian I understand.

Robert said...

Great Jeff now if you can Convince another 3 million or 6% of Canadians you will have a majority and can act like the MAJORITY of Canadians are on your side.

Jeff Jedras said...

Alrighty then.

rockfish said...

Great to hear the orange trolls at work. Not like they aren't wanting their cake and eating it too -- i'm for the registry, but no it doesn't matter, or wait, it does matter but only to those Liberals! Or wait again, we've got the proposal that Ignatieff had but now we've put it out after the barn door's closed and, oh crap!
Worry about your own urban jungle, ndp dude. It's going to get darker before it gets lighter...

Kirk said...

I'm looking for the supposed downside in all this for the Liberals and it doesn't amount to much.

It's unlikely that Liberal voters are basing their votes solely on the abolishment of the Registry when they could vote Conservative for that alone.

Even when a Liberal MP states he opposes the Registry those supporters would also need other reasons to vote for him instead of the Conservative. Those reasons to vote for the Liberal aren't disappearing.

However, some soft Liberal support on the anti-Registry margin will be lost especially if the LGR is retained.

However, the NDP and Layton officially support the LGR and their MPs may kill it. This is the worst option & one that the Liberals have avoided.

Will this gain the NDP support in rural areas from the Conservatives? The NDP aren't doing anything different in this vote than the Conservatives. Worse, while some MPs will be voting to end the LGR Layton and the majority of NDP MPs will be voting to keep it so why would an anti-LGR voter reward them?

Will they gain support from Liberal voters? From Liberal supporters who want the LGR gone but don't vote Conservative and will reward the NDP after the fact??

But what about NDP voters who want the LGR?

Will they stick with the NDP especially if the Liberals remind them of this during an election? If they also remind them that the NDP brought down the Martin govt killing the Kelowna Accord & the National Daycare Program? That's not a good track record for the NDP despite their crowing about some concessions they got from Harper on EI instead of voting no confidence along with the Libs and BQ last year?

It's going to be harder & harder for the NDP to push their "only real opposition to Harper" line when with this vote they will have actively done more for the Conservative Party and Harper than any other party.

The upside for the Liberals is in these NDP voters and I it's much bigger than the downside if in different ridings.

The best thing that could happen for the Liberals will be for the NDP to kill the LGR taking it away from the Conservatives as an issue & fund raiser, making the Liberals support of it a mot point while betraying the core NDP vote and their role as the supposed "great opposition" to Harper.

ottlib said...

Quoting polls that are already out of date like they are the gospel from on high is a pretty pathetic argument if you ask me.

After all, the opinion of Canadians never changes about anything, right? Right!?

As well, Robert seems to be an NDP supporter but he seems to be arguing that the dismantling of the long-gun registry is not a bad thing.

I thought it was NDP policy that the party support the registry.

It seems that Jack Layton is not only losing a sizable chunk of his caucus but it seems he is losing some of the grassroots as well.

Steve V said...


Thanks for the thoughtful response. Agree.


"Quoting polls that are already out of date like they are the gospel from on high is a pretty pathetic argument if you ask me."

This debate is reaching a crescendo, it's dynamic and evolving. There is more of a focus on the issue, and for the first time, the people that use it are taking hard sides.

I bet somebody is in the field right now asking the questions...

Steve V said...

Oh my, a Canadian changed his mind on the gun registry, because of the new information that has come to light:


RuralSandi said...

Good grief - NDP supporters are playing the victim card just like the Cons do.

Why can't people (especially those that don't like the registry) be adults?

Vote to keep it and then work on amending it so both sides of the fence can compromise and be happy - too difficult?

NDP - stop whining. You're leader is in a situation he's never had to deal with before - having the onus on him and his leadership if looking really bad.

Old polls,hmmm - in 2004 - Harper polled in April 14% to June 10%.

Leadership? Broadbent was way up in the leadership polls and then the election came - Liberal majority and the NDP's plummeted.

Peg said...

Lots of people posting here seem to have a misconception about what the NDP policy is on the long gun registry.

There isn't one, and never has been.

One more time: The NDP HAS NO PARTY POLICY ON THE LONG GUN REGISTRY. Those of you repeating the misconception that there is one: show us the policy.

Federal policy is made by the membership, voted on at a biannual convention, or by consensus within caucus. The fact that no resolution for or against the registry has ever been accepted at a convention or a caucus consensus ever been reached should speak volumes on the issue.

In fact 7 or the 8 NDP MPs voting on the original Bill C-68 voted against the registry - only Svend Robinson voted for it.

In some ways this is actually a strength, particularly in rural Canada and with those Canadians who are not deeply politicized. They appreciate that there are more important issues than the gun registry, and that the free vote is proof that when you elect an NDP MP, you get someone who represents them and their interests first - not a whipped party line.

Steve V said...


Thanks for that. I'm sure it's also true that every time the Liberals various MP's have expressed different opinions and they haven't whipped their vote, you were the FIRST to admonish the NDP and its supporters, the media, when they make it appear as though a negative. I'm sure you and all the other principled purists defended the notion of individual MP independence. I'm sure you did, but strangely I don't recall the name or any of the fair weather champions expressing the tenets. Actually, now that I can think of it, most were taking cheap shots.

The retort crowd here is so very, very boring and selective. Gawd, is it really this predictable?

Peg said...

Wow Steve V, are you jaded. You need to take a break from blogging for a bit I think. I'll just say one more thing before signing off. (I don't want to get jaded :)

As a former Dipper, I can still be honest about how many people in the country support the registry and how many don't. More want it gone than want to keep it: those are the sad facts. I don't know if its Conservative propaganda thats winning, or if people are just plain tired of arguing over it. But I'm in that minority - one (relatively small) reason I no longer vote NDP.

And No, Steve V, not showing up for key votes so Harper wins, and voting for something you actually spoke out AGAINST is not just "Liberal MPs expressing different opinions" - its straight hypocrisy. One (relative major) reason I never vote Liberal.

Steve V said...

Last paragraph means what I said went so far over your head it's sort of scary.

Second paragraph, I've said that for two years.

First paragraph. Of course. I apologize for pulling your blinds.

Thanks for trying though Peg. Good of you to make the effort here, commendable.

I was a former NDP voter to, but then I got all jaded and shit. LOL.