Breitkreuz and Angus trade e-mails: Tories vs NDP on the gun registry

Before Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner and her private member's bill to kill the long-gun registry, there was Saskatchewan Conservative MP Garry Breitkreuz and his private member's bill to kill the registry. Breitkreuz eventually allowed his bill to die so Hoeppner could pick it up. But Breitkreuz is still working to kill the registry. Here's a note he's sending to those NDP MPs that appear ready to vote with the Tories to kill the registry. NDP MP Charlie Angus, who is one of those NDPers who opposes the registry, writes back just below:

From: Breitkreuz, Garry – M.P.

To: Angus, Charlie – Personal

Sent: Tue Aug 31 11:43:59 2010

Subject: Please consider …

I thought you might like to see a recent opinion piece I was asked to write for The Mark website.

I can appreciate that the NDP M.P.s who supported Bill C-391 are now under tremendous pressure to flip-flop by supporting the motion to kill the bill on September 22. This is just a short note to remind you that nothing has changed since you supported Bill C-391 on November 4, 2009. The vast majority of your constituents asked you to help scrap the long-gun registry then, and they have not changed their minds. If anything, they are even more resolute and growing in numbers today.

In light of the Liberal leader’s decision to whip his caucus into killing Bill C-301 on September 22, your voice is even more important. A Canadian Press/Harris Decima poll shows that the majority of NDP supporters favour scrapping the registry – you will be representing them with pride when you vote against the motion on September 22.


Garry Breitkreuz

Here's the reply Charlie Angus sent back to Breitkreuz:

From: Angus, Charlie – Personal
Sent: August 31, 2010 2:48 PM
To: Breitkreuz, Garry – M.P.
Subject: Re: Please consider …
Dear Garry,

Thanks for taking the time to personally email me.

I was more than a little surprised to hear from you about the registry, again. It’s interesting that this is the only rural issue you ever seem to want to talk to us about. You and your government have hardly been collegial with rural New Democrats on addressing the concerns of our citizens.

No matter. I supported getting Bill C-391 to committee because I felt rural Canadians had legitimate concerns about the costs of the registry, its effectiveness and whether or not it is used effectively by police. I was really hoping we could all work together as Parliamentarians, listen to the problems with the registry, hear from various witnesses and finally get answers to these fundamental questions.

Unfortunately, your government has fought against information getting out, actively suppressed departmental reports and publically attacked police officers who dare disagree with you.

But I do appreciate your letter. Thanks to your opinion piece, I learned that the Harper government believes the real reason police are “strident” on this issue is because they “don’t want Canadians to own guns”. And you seem to claim the real reason police want to keep the registry is not for public safety, but so they someday will be able to burst into family homes and seize grampa's 20 gauge.
Sorry Gary, but that's just crazy talk about our police.

I’m not sure how it is in your city, but where I come from folks don't see their police as a threat. They trust the police – the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to keep the rest of us safe. Your extreme attitudes and wild claims just don’t reflect what Canadians are like.

We all remember your last attempt to bring in gun legislation, when you tried to slip in new regulations that would make it a-okay to carry restricted firearms like hand guns and semi-automatic assault weapons in cars in cities. That one just didn't pass the smell test, did it?

So Gary, let's be frank: we're just not on the same page here at all. Rural New Democrats have brought forward legitimate concerns of rural residents and are looking to have those issues addressed. The Harper Conservatives, on the other hand, would rather try and just stir up rural Canadians with all manner of wild and crazy conspiracy theories about our local police forces. And just for the sake of a quick fundraising buck and some negative partisan advertising.

Thanks for the advice, but no thanks.



The Twitter fistfight: Liberals vs NDP over the gun registry

For the last two days here in Baddeck, N.S. where the Liberals are holding their 2010 summer caucus retreat, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has hammered Jack Layton and the NDP over their position on the long-gun registry, going so far as to say that NDP stands for “No Darn Principles”. NDP hill staffers and some MPs immediately launched an all-out attack on Twitter at the Liberals.

Here's the play-by-play on Twitter (with explanations of Twitter terms below):

After Ignatieff's speech on Monday

Adam Goldenberg (Ignatieff speech-writer, tweets as @adamgoldenberg: On #gunregistry: #NDP has to “stand up, or they've got No Darn Principle.” – @M_Ignatieff

Marc-Andre Viau (NDP caucus press secretary tweets as @maviau) Maternal health, pay equity, enviro assessment.. RT @davidakin Fightin' words: @M_Ignatieff says #NDP stands for No Darn Principles

James Valcke (Researcher, NDP Caucus Services tweets as @ValckeNDP) : AECL privitization, Anti-scab, climate change @davidakin Fightin' words: @M_Ignatieff says #NDP stands for No Darn Principles

George Soule (NDP caucus press secretary, tweets as @G_Soule) : out of #afgh, tar sands, torture, pro-choice… RT @davidakin Fightin' words: @M_Ignatieff says #NDP stands for No Darn Principles

Valcke: @M_Ignatieff and #lpc now simply telling bold face untruths about their history of support Harper conservatives.

Drew Anderson (communications for NDP HQ elections team tweets as @DrewA_NDP🙂 @M_Ignatieff 's principles: “The United Nations is a messy, wasteful, log-rolling organization.”

Anderson: @M_Ignatieff 's principles: “We need to make sure that assassinations don't do more harm than good. “

Valcke: Sponsorship scandal, Kyoto failure, corp tax cuts RT @davidakin Fightin' words: @M_Ignatieff: #NDP stands for No Darn Principles

Soulex2_2873f59.jpg : Fear not. I'm sure many flip flops to come. RT @alisoncrawford5 Last bbq flip of the #lpcx [Crawford, a CBC Radio reporter, had posted the picture at right)

Valcke: “No Darn Principles” comment by @M_Ignatieff was almost as offensive as their feigned patronage outrage last week.

Oliva Chow (NDP MP tweets as @OliviaChow): #LPC united and principled? What about on abortion rights, Afghan war and the 120 votes in support of #CPC in #HoC?

Michelle Simson (Liberal MP tweets as @michellesimson): O Jack, just watching ur news conf on CPAC re party's stance on the gun registry. Talk 2 the hand. U're not building a bridge, ur blowing 1.

Soule: Still vexed by an #lpc leader who voted over 100 times with the Harper #cpc, pointing the finger at others for lack of principles.

Anderson: “Nothing is personal in politics because politics is theatre.” @M_Ignatieff 's principles.

Valcke: Bahahahahaha #youkillme RT @RupNDP: Liberals' “big red tent” is more like a “big circus show”

Brad Lavigne (National Director of the NDP, tweets as @bradlavigne): For the record, if the Liberals want to run the next campaign on a contest of principles, we're kinda ok with that.

Goldenbergolcf.jpg : Missing: @JackLayton's credibility. If found, please call – [Goldenberg tweets a link to the picture at left]

Goldenberg: Jack Layton helped Stephen Harper scrap childcare & Kelowna Accord. Now he's helping him scrap the #gunregistry. What's next?

Viau: AK47 are illegal. Get your pic right.

Valcke: @adamgoldenberg “I commit to you that I will call a general election within 30 days of the commission's final report and recommendations.” And then the people of Canada will have their say. (Address to the nation) CBC, April 21 2005 Paul Martin

Valcke: @adamgoldenberg maybe you missed that though. I'll give you a mulligan.

Goldenberg: Check your dates, @ValckeNDP. The final report was released 2 months after Jack Layton voted down the Martin government, dooming childcare.

Viau: Good reading for the #Libs. Principled Liberals/un-principled New Democrats? It is to laugh. #ludicrous

After Ignatieff's speech on Tuesday

Goldenberg: “You can side with the police on the #gunregistry or you can side with Mr. Harper. Make up your mind, Jack.” – @M_Ignatieff

Lavigne: The #ndp need to decide? Really? #lpc has voted with Harper 100+ times on confidence matters. #payequity #war #nukes #alittlerich

Viau Make up your mind like Harper your time is up? RT @davidakin Iggy to NDP on #gunregistry: Make up your mind, Jack. The hour is getting late.

Viau #Iffy wants to amend the long gun registry, then doesn't want to. #flipflop #makeupyourmind

Soule: On registry: Ignatieff doesn't get it: building bridges btwn rural&urban Cnda is what Cndn principled leadership is about.

Goldenberg: @G_Soule Fact: You can either improve #gunregistry (#LPC's plan) or scrap it (Harper's plan). You can't scrap it, then improve it.

Valcke: Brinsksmanship politics. Way to keep the issues of the nation clear as mud.

Soule: @adamgoldenberg wrong. You can fix it. (#ndp proposal) or do nothing except MT promises despite 9 yrs in maj. gov't with it. (#lpc reality)

Valcke: Canadians send MPs to Ottawa to represent them and find solutions. Jack Layton has been building bridges since he arrived here.

Ben Parsons, (Researcher, Liberal Research Bureau tweets as @parsob): It is clear to me that a certain segment of the NDP caucus has lost confidence in Jack Laytons leadership.

Goldenberg: Simple Q for #NDP staffers @ValckeNDP & @G_Soule: How does @JackLayton plan to improve the #gunregistry after scrapping it?

Valcke: Wasn't it just a few months ago the Libs had a problem with votes on thier own motion? 3 Lib MPs opposed their leader in the House?

Soule: @adamgoldenberg No secret, we're both staff. Not complicated. We fix it by showing leadership, getting support in #hoc to not scrap it.

Goldenberg: So… those 12 #NDP MPs will vote *against* C-391?

Goldenberg We need 12 #NDP votes to #savethegunregistry. Lend us your votes, @JackLayton.

Lavigne: #lpc has lost almost every rural seat it held in 2000. Today it announced it is writing-off what is left

Goldenberg @bradlavigne Gun control = “writing-off” rural Canada? Sounds like “the stereotype that rural priorities begin & end w/ guns.”

Anderson: Buyer beware! Don't take your #bigredtent out in the rain. Apparently they'll shrink 97 seats in 10 years.

Twitter terms used above:

#AFGH – Afghanistan

#HOC – House of Commons

#IFFY – Perjorative nickname for Michael Ignatieff

@[NAME] – Used to denote that a tweet is “at” or in reference to something some other Twitter user said.

#LPC – Liberal Party of Canada

#LPCX – Liberal Party Express – Ignatieff's cross-summer tour

#NDP – New Democratic Party

RT – Re-tweet. When you see something on twitter that you want to pass along or comment upon, you can “re-tweet” it so the next person reading it can see it. Authorship generally belongs to the @[NAME] that immediately follows the RT.

Liberals on defence? Offence? Depends how you count it.

Today in many of our papers, I argued that Michael Ignatieff's summer tour was all about defence, that it was not necessarily about winning votes as it was about finding Liberals who would be ready to volunteer, donate money, and fight for Ignatieff and the party in the next general election. I came to this conclusion after talking to Liberals in Ottawa and in some of the regions Ignatieff visited and after examining the 45-day itinerary.

You can read the column here.

I probably should also have been more explicit in nothing that there is nothing wrong with playing defence and that, in fact, the “defensive” politics of finding your own supporters and re-engaging them seems to me to be a crucial first step before finding independent or uncommitted voters.

Nonetheless, I think some Liberals may have thought I was being critical of the idea of the tour — which I was not: It was smart politics — or that I was advancing the thesis that it stuck to safe ridings where Ignatieff would have an easy ride. I wasn't doing that, either, but, nonetheless, the Liberals have helpfully put together some riding-by-riding data on the tour for anyone who might come to that conclusion:

19 Bloc Quebecois ridings (18% of stops and the BQ hold 16% of House of Commons seats);

50 Conservative ridings (48% of stops, hold 47% of seats);

26 Liberal ridings (25% of stops, hold 25% of seats)

10 NDP ridings (10% of stops, hold 12% of seats);

Overall the Liberal Express tour visited 105 ridings. Of those, 79 or 75 per cent were non-Liberal ridings and 75% of the seats in the House of Commons are not held by Liberals.

While I have the provinces and cities the tour touched down in, I don't have the actual ridings, I will say this: Many of the non-Liberal ridings Ignatieff visited were, as I said in the column, placed like Peterborough, Ont., Kitchener, Ont. or (later this month) Thunder Bay, Ont. — all cities that were Liberal as recently as the 2004 election in Peterborough's case and or 2006 in the case of Kitchener and Thunder Bay. So those would “non-Liberal” ridings right now but were Liberal ridings within the last two or three general elections and are the natural places to look for Liberals if they hope to win enough seats again to form the government. In other words, it looks to me like the tour emphasized areas of the country where Liberals had some electoral success recently and the party and leader need to “re-activate”, if you will, the local grassroots.

Iggy to Harper: "We make the rules!"

If you haven't yet done so, check out this video I shot last Thursday at the airport in Tuktoyaktuk, NWT while on tour with Prime Minister Stephen Harper:

It's that last line of Harper's that has put a big smile on the face of those in Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff's office — the “I think I make the rules” line. Ignatieff, in a stump speech in Elmsdale, Nova Scotia this morning, jumped on that line.

“Of course he meant it as a joke but I don't think it was entirely a joke. That told you — that took you right inside the head of Stephen Harper. That told you what's inside. 'I make the rules.' Well, unless I'm seriously mistaken, we make the rules! The people of Canada make the rules! We want a prime minister and team that respects the rules, that respects the Canadian people, that listen to the Canadian people, especially when the Canadian people have something to say that we might not necessarily want to hear.”

If you've got a minute-and-a-half, give the whole thing a listen as Iggy shows a bit of passion trying to connect the “I make the rules” comment to the census decision.


In Nova Scotia, on board the Liberal Express with Michael Ignatieff


While many of my Sun Media colleagues have had the chance this summer to enjoy the hospitality aboard the Liberal Express, I have not — until today. I'm picking up Michael Ignatieff's summer tour on its last days, as it travels from Halifax to Cape Breton and the end-of-summer national Liberal caucus in Baddeck, N.S.

The tour today stops in Elmsdale at 0900, Masstown at 1100, Antigonish at 1330 and Big Pond at 1700.

I and other reporters then head to Baddeck this evening while Ignatieff and the bus overnight in Sydney. Ignatieff will then arrive Monday in Baddeck to begin the caucus.

The bus ride today is full of Liberal candidates, MPs, and Senators including:

  • MPs Scott Brison, Maria Minna, Geoff Regan, and Rodger Cuzner
  • Senators James Cowan, Terry Mercer, Wilfred Moore

Mark Lilla on U.S. populism: Welcome to the Libertarian mob

I was catching up on my reading while flying back to Ottawa and found myself nodding again and again in agreement while reading this May, 2010 essay by Mark Lilla. Particularly interesting given yesterday's events in Washington:

Many Americans, a vocal and varied segment of the public at large, have now convinced themselves that educated elites—politicians, bureaucrats, reporters, but also doctors, scientists, even schoolteachers—are controlling our lives. And they want them to stop. They say they are tired of being told what counts as news or what they should think about global warming; tired of being told what their children should be taught, how much of their paychecks they get to keep, whether to insure themselves, which medicines they can have, where they can build their homes, which guns they can buy, when they have to wear seatbelts and helmets, whether they can talk on the phone while driving, which foods they can eat, how much soda they can drink…the list is long. But it is not a list of political grievances in the conventional sense.

American populist rhetoric … fires up emotions by appealing to individual opinion, individual autonomy, and individual choice, all in the service of neutralizing, not using, political power. It gives voice to those who feel they are being bullied, but this voice has only one, Garbo-like thing to say: I want to be left alone.

A new strain of populism is metastasizing before our eyes, nourished by the same libertarian impulses that have unsettled American society for half a century now. Anarchistic like the Sixties, selfish like the Eighties, contradicting neither, it is estranged, aimless, and as juvenile as our new century. It appeals to petulant individuals convinced that they can do everything themselves if they are only left alone, and that others are conspiring to keep them from doing just that. This is the one threat that will bring Americans into the streets.

Welcome to the politics of the libertarian mob.

The new American populism['s].. political target is an abstract noun, “the government,” which has been a source of disenchantment since the late Sixties. In Why Trust Matters, Marc Hetherington uncovers the astonishing fact that in 1965 nearly half of Americans believed that the War on Poverty would “help wipe out poverty”—a vote of confidence in our political institutions unimaginable today. The failure of the Great Society programs to meet the high expectations invested in them was a major source of disappointment and loss of confidence.

Americans are and have always been credulous skeptics. They question the authority of priests, then talk to the dead; they second-guess their cardiologists, then seek out quacks in the jungle. Like people in every society, they do this in moments of crisis when things seem hopeless. They also, unlike people in other societies, do it on the general principle that expertise and authority are inherently suspect …

Which brings us to Fox News. The right-wing demagogues at Fox do what demagogues have always done: they scare the living daylights out of people by identifying a hidden enemy, then flatter them until they believe they have only one champion—the demagogue himself. But unlike demagogues past, who appealed over the heads of individuals to the collective interests of a class, Fox and its wildly popular allies on talk radio and conservative websites have at their disposal technology that is perfectly adapted to a nation of cocksure individualists who want to be addressed and heard directly, without mediation, and without having to leave the comforts of home.

The media counterestablishment of the right gives them that. It offers an ersatz system of direct representation in which an increasingly segmented audience absorbs what it wants from its trusted sources, embellishes it in their own voices on blogs and websites and chatrooms, then hears their views echoed back as “news.” While this system doesn’t threaten our system of representative democracy, it certainly makes it harder for it to function well and regain the public’s trust.

The conservative media did not create the Tea Party movement and do not direct it; nobody does. But the movement’s rapid growth and popularity are unthinkable without the demagogues’ new ability to tell isolated individuals worried about their futures what they want to hear and put them in direct contact with one another, bypassing the parties and other mediating institutions our democracy depends on. When the new Jacobins turn on their televisions they do not tune in to the PBS News Hour or C-Span to hear economists and congressmen debate the effectiveness of financial regulations or health care reform. They look for shows that laud their common sense, then recite to them the libertarian credo that Fox emblazons on its home page nearly every day: YOU DECIDE.

[Read the full essay]

Harper's ATV joyride: "I think I make the rules"

Prime Minister Stephen Harper spent a few hours in Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, announcing Canada's first-ever Arctic marine protected area, meeting some locals and, just before getting on the Canadian Forces C-130J which would take him to Whitehorse, borrowed someone's all-terrain vehicle for little joyride up and down the dirt runway of Tuk's airport.

“Good fun,” Harper told the assembled reporters on the airstrip after his run. “You don't normally get a runway (and) I didn't see any speed limit signs. Too bad you guys can't do it!”

One saucy reporter pointed out that the prime minister likely didn't have a licence to be roaring about on ATV on a federal regulated airport landing strip.

Harper paused for a second. “I think I make the rules.”

But don't take my word for it, here's the raw video (click on the image to play):

Al Qaeda in Ottawa, torture victim cheers arrest and Alberta sales tax: Thursday's A1 headlines and political daybook

Ottawa Sun Front page Terror Bust Al Qaeda in Ottawa; Torture victim cheers arrest – sales taxes in Alberta: Get a four-minute audio summary of what's on Thursday's front pages of papers across the country by clicking on the link below.


You can also get these audio summaries automatically every day via podcast from iTunes or via an RSS feed by subscribing to my AudioBoo stream. Both the iTunes link and the RSS link are at my profile at Look in the top right corner of the “Boos” box.

Inspired by Diefenbaker: Harper follows footsteps of Prince Albert's most famous lawyer


Listen to enough Stephen Harper speeches and you will hear him refer to one man over and over again: John Diefenbaker, “the Chief” from Prince Albert, Sask., who was Canada’s 13th prime minister from 1957 to 1963.

Prime Minister Harper talked about the Chief again just this week in the midst of his annual Arctic tour, noting that Diefenbaker’s northern vision was one where “traditional activities like hunting and fishing co-exist alongside cutting-edge scientific research.”

Diefenbaker, in fact, made the North one of the central themes of the 1958 general election, the one in which he would triumph with what is still the largest majority of seats in Canadian history when measured as a percentage of the seats in the Commons.

Harper’s annual Arctic tour, which touched down in Resolute, Nunavut, Wednesday, is his way of underlining the commitment Diefenbaker first made.

Harper sees more in common, though, with Diefenbaker than just the North.

[Read the whole column]

Harper dances with the Inuvialuit

After spending most of Wednesday in Resolute, Nunavut, Harper flew late in the day to Inuvik, NWT where, at about 7 pm Mountain Time, he attended a community feast and said a few words. But before his speech, the Inuvik Drummers and Dancers gave a performance of several Inuvialuit dances. At the end of their performance, they invited Harper (and the ministers accompanying him on this trip, John Duncan, Leona Aglukkaq and Gail Shea) to join them in a dance. Here's the raw video (click on the image below to view):