Canada John Ivison: Liberals put O'Toole on the defensive on gun control
John Ivison: Trudeau's Liberals need to change strategy or face an appalling election defeat
There is nothing inevitable about elections – anything can happen, as we have seen over the past three weeks. But as sure as snow melts in spring, the Liberals are going to lose this election unless they can change its trajectory. A new poll by Innovative Research shows how the appetite for change has grown in the past six months to 60 per cent on August 21 from 49 per cent in March. That is higher than the 55 per cent in 2019 and on its way to the 62 per cent in 2015. I visited 22 ridings in that election and the conversation with many, many voters started with: “Harper has to go….”. Once that decision has been made by enough people, nobody is listening to you anymore.
COQUITLAM, B.C. — The Liberal Party is trying to put doubts in the minds of the jury, as voters ponder the prospect of Prime Minister Erin O’Toole.
Those efforts were helped in no small part by the Conservative leader himself on Saturday.
O’Toole was in Coquitlam to announce his plan to get vaccination levels up to 90 per cent.
Quite why we were there remains a mystery. It is home to the closest race in the country — Conservative Nelly Shin won Port Moody-Coquitlam in 2019 by 153 votes, and was in attendance, but no reference was made to the location.
John Ivison: Erin O'Toole's promises may be a matter of expediency in this election
MONTREAL — Erin O’Toole emerged from the first French language debate with his lunch money and dignity intact, which has not always been the case for anglophone Conservative leaders. Andrew Scheer never recovered from being bullied in the 2019 TVA debate and Conservative fortunes in the province nose-dived as a result. On Thursday night, O’Toole’s French was fluent and he was unruffled by the frequent attacks from Justin Trudeau, who looked as if he was over-caffeinated. Trudeau’s failure to knock O’Toole off-stride had the predictable effect of prompting ever more delirious assaults on the Conservative leader on social media.
The Conservative leader had some good things to say about the fight against the Delta variant, particularly the need to de-politicize the vaccination process and treat people with compassion.
“Do we want public officials to promote an ‘us versus them’ approach at a time when we should be uniting together against the fourth wave?” he said.
“If you’re someone who is worried or is having second thoughts, I hear you. We haven’t done enough to assuage your fears.”
Justin Trudeau should take note — his approach has been to denounce vaccine sceptics, rather than to try to persuade them.
O'Toole vows to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates above 90%, pressed for clarity on gun position
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole unveiled the party's strategy to combat the fourth wave of COVID-19. But the details were overshadowed by questions about firearms.O'Toole's plan relies heavily on persuading more Canadians to get vaccinated through a public information campaign that will "appeal to Canadians' patriotism" and by providing incentives, such as paid time off work and free transportation to vaccine appointments.
The Conservatives say they will appeal to patriotic values and be sensitive to the concerns of racialized Canadians, who may be suspicious of the health system.
But O’Toole’s message was eclipsed by continuing concerns about his gun policy — worries for which he has no clear answers.
During his vaccine announcement, he said he would “level with Canadians”. Minutes later he was asked whether it was fair to say he wants to allow lethal assault-style weapons that the Liberals banned in 2020, “yes or no?”
When a politician answers a “yes or no” question with anything other than a “yes” or “no”, voters tend to automatically want them whipped in wire and stewed in brine. It is not “levelling with Canadians”, it is a transparent attempt to mislead them.
O’Toole didn’t answer the question. “The assault weapons that the Liberals talk about when they’re trying to divide people, we are maintaining a ban on assault weapons,” he said.
COMMENTARY: Conservatives’ Erin O’Toole has shot himself in the foot — twice — with murky stance on gun control
Erin O'Toole has shone a bright spotlight on his party’s hard-right agenda on gun control and managed to make himself look untrustworthy in the process, writes Randy Boswell. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has had a hard time making the “hidden agenda” accusation stick to Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole during this election campaign.
The Conservative do plan in their platform to keep in place a ban on fully-automatic assault weapons that was introduced in 1977. But they also want to overturn legislation introduced in 2020 by the Liberals to ban semi-automatic weapons like the Ruger M14 used in the Ecole Polytechnique shooting in Montreal and in the Moncton shootings in 2014 that killed five RCMP officers.
O’Toole said that there has been a 20 per cent increase in violent shootings during Trudeau’s time in government, largely by criminal gangs using firearms smuggled from the U.S. He said his plan targets the real risks by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. But there is nothing to preclude doing that and keeping semi-automatic weapons off the market.
Pandering to the gun lobby in the policy platform was a mistake. O’Toole said a Conservative government would have a public review of the classification system. He could save himself a repeat of the Coquitlam debacle by saying that the 2020 ban will remain in place until that review is concluded — effectively punting the problem until after the.
O’Toole not ruling out future reversal of 2020 gun ban pending stakeholder review
A spokesperson for Erin O'Toole said the National Firearms Association would not be permitted to take part in a promised review of firearms classifications if O'Toole is elected.During a press conference from the campaign trail on Monday, O'Toole was asked about his promise to "maintain" the reclassification on those firearms, which the Liberals refer to as "assault-style" weapons.
But the real damage has been done. The Liberals have already taken to the airwaves with attack ads that accuse O’Toole of wanting to take Canada backward by putting dangerous weapons they banned back on the streets.
Ministers Harjit Sajjan, Bill Blair and Pablo Rodriguez were dispatched to repeat that message in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal on Saturday.
O’Toole said that Trudeau is trying to mislead and divide people by mentioning the National Rifle Association and U.S. gun policy.
But it’s clear he has jeopardized his prospects of forming a government by catering to the gun lobby here.
Liberal torpedoes on healthcare, mandatory vaccination, program cuts and abortion have failed to breach the hull of a Conservative dreadnought that has been cruising through this election.
But the guns issue should give O’Toole pause for thought.
If you say you are going to be “crystal clear” and then fall short of that ideal, people start to wonder what else you are not telling them.
The West Block — Episode 44, Season 10 .
Watch the full episode of The West Block with host Mercedes Stephenson – Sept. 12, 2021.Episode 44, Season 10