For it before he was against it (II)


Two footnotes to that footnote, taken from a pair of subsequent stories Joan Bryden wrote for Southam. In the first, the future prime minister comments on the threats he received after his vote in favour of the gun registry. In the second, Mr. Harper explains why he switched his vote and why he no longer believes it entirely necessary to survey constituents before voting.

THE GUN CONTROL DEBATE: U.S. bombing sends political shock waves north

The Ottawa Citizen
Fri Apr 28 1995
Page: A3
Section: News
Byline: Joan Bryden
Source: Southam News

The horrific bombing in Oklahoma City has cast Canada’s gun control debate in a new — and disturbing — light. MPs have become increasingly alarmed by the extreme language of some gun lobbyists. The rhetoric echoes the virulent, anti-government conspiracy theories espoused by the heavily-armed private militias under examination after last week’s bombing of a federal building in America’s heartland…

Calgary Reform MP Stephen Harper, one of only two Reformers to support the bill, has also received “threats against my person or family.”

Both McTeague and Harper stress that the majority of gun owners are law-abiding folks whose legitimate concerns about the bill should not be denigrated by the extreme rhetoric of a few radicals. “While in a vague kind of way I see the connection (with the views spouted by U.S. paramilitary groups) and I see that element here, I don’t think generally speaking it’s representative of gun owners or even of the gun lobby in this country,” Harper says…


MPs walk a tightrope: MPs are increasingly pulled three ways. Voters demand MPs reflect their ridings, but they also want MPs with the courage of their convictions and political parties that stand for something and keep their promises.
The Hamilton Spectator
Sat Jun 24 1995
Page: A11
Section: News
Byline: By Joan Bryden

MPs can be excused for feeling a bit schizophrenic these days. They’re being pulled in three different directions by disgruntled voters who increasingly want MPs to reflect the views of their constituents but simultaneously sneer at politicians’ lack of principles and trounce parties that don’t appear to stand for anything.

In essence, MPs are being asked to represent their constituents, their own convictions and their parties at the same time. But what’s an MP to do when those roles conflict?

… Calgary Reformer Stephen Harper surveyed his constituents and found broad support in principle for gun control. He supported the bill at second reading. He then conducted another survey, in which he explained the details of the bill, and found a majority opposed to critical elements. He voted against gun control at third and final reading and faced accusations of flip-flopping and/or rigging the survey to get the result he wanted.

… Mr. Harper, however, is not so sure that constituents should be consulted directly on complex, technical issues that defy easy Yes or No answers. He consulted them on gun control because he promised he would. In retrospect, he’s not convinced it was a wise move. “I would certainly use this method on a moral issue. It’s harder on a technical issue.”

Mr. Harper also believes there is no need to double-check with voters between elections on the primary planks of a party’s platform, for which it has received a “mandate”…


For it before he was against it (II)

  1. Hmmm…sounds like he actually put in a lot of effort to fully explain the issue and understand his constituents.

    Shame on him! He must be evil!

    • You completely missed the point. Boy, you guys are really incredibly boring. Too bad ID doesn’t have an ignore feature.

  2. Well thought out and nuanced….that guy could have had a bright future in politics. What ever that happened to guy?

    • Abandoned his principles, jettisoned his promises, sold his soul

  3. Lol, if only Wherry understood what these votes meant.

    You can vote for something "in principle" and then after committee when the details are worked out you can vote against it because of something you heard from the witness testimony.

    That's kinda sorta how the entire system is supposed to work!


    • Why doesn't Wherry understand that?

  4. I will see your logical fallacy and raise you;

    Did his constituents flip flop, or were the personally threatening constituents granted extra votes?

  5. Ahh, that's why that committee meeting (busting) manual was written, for democracy!

  6. The gun registry has made for tons of riveting poltical; moments strange "free/not so free" votes and outright reversals over the years.

    I recall when Chretien was PM a bunch of Liberal MPs were publicly saying they would vote down a further funding request for the registry. Oddly enough the funding request came via the Supplementary Estimates just months after Sheila Fraser revealed that the Department of Justice had hidden the true costs of the registry from Parliamentarians by avoiding the Main Estiamtes and manipulating the Supplementary Estimates.
    Chreitien of course told his MPs that this would be a confidence vote and they quickly fell in line. I believe Martin had a very similar exprerience about three years later as PM.

  7. On Wednesday's edition of CBC Power and Politics, MacLean's Paul Wells said that Jesse Cadman, son of Chuck and Dona Cadman, had died when shot by a long gun.

    The actual facts are that one night, Jesse was stabbed after an altercation with another teenager who did not like his hat.

    The facts don't match Paul's position or point he was trying to make so Paul rewrote history to suit his political position.

    Shame Paul. A retraction and apology to the family is in order.

  8. …proponents such as police chiefs, notably from big cities like Montreal and Toronto, have said the registry is useful tool and has lead to more responsible gun ownership and has reduced suicides and crimes of passion using guns. CTV BC, November 4, 2009, House votes in principle to kill gun registry

    …Conservatives argue the registry has been "$1-billion boondoggle," although a 2006 study by the auditor general found eliminating the long-gun portion of the registry would only save taxpayers about $3 million a year going forward. CTV BC, November 4, 2009, House votes in principle to kill gun registry

    …Last week, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair also used the seizure of a huge haul of restricted weapons to defend the beleaguered registry. "We believe that the gun registry provides police services across this country with the information they need, first of all to help us keep communities safe, and also to keep police officers safe," he told a news conference last Wednesday. CTV BC, November 4, 2009, House votes in principle to kill gun registry

  9. Grass roots politics. As Ian Brodie said at McGill: It works in the sense that it helps us to win. No matter the cost to society, no matter the cost to the public finances of this country.

    • Which is exactly why Chreitien put it in place when he knew it would not work. There was votes to get from interest groups.

  10. Susan Riley wrote a brilliant column on this subject this morning.