We know one thing for sure about the election campaign that is already underway if not yet officially called.
Justin Trudeau and the Liberals plan to run on increased gun control.
This isn’t speculation, the Liberals have made this clear as I write about here. Bill Blair, Trudeau’s minister of organized crime reduction and border security, even made this bold statement to the Globe and Mail last month.
“There are some weapons that are currently available in our society that represent an unacceptable risk,” Blair said.
The problem is, Blair wasn’t talking about handguns, he was talking about rifles.
Anyone paying attention knows that the problem with gun violence in Canada is that it’s handguns and not rifles that is the main source of gun play in the streets. And the guns that are the problem are the smuggled kind, not the ones in the gun vaults of licenced gun owners.
Trudeau is consulting but not listening.
The Liberal government did an extensive, if flawed, public consultation on the possibility of a ban on handguns and what they called “assault weapons.”
The consultation included an online survey, in-person meetings, consultations with stakeholder groups on all sides. What it found likely shocked the government.
When asked “Should more be done to limit access to handguns?” the results were pretty definitive. A full 81% said no including the majority that do not own any guns at all.
It was the same when the consultation asked about “assault weapons.”
You can go to the full survey and look across demographic lines, geographic lines and the results are strongly against a ban.
Both men and women are opposed to the bans, every province is opposed, and among age groups the only one to support either ban was those 65 and older saying they backed an “assault weapon” ban. And at that it was just 51% supporting a ban.
And yet they are still talking about a ban? It makes no sense.
Trudeau will anger gun owners.
As I’ve written about previously, Trudeau’s majority government is facing tough prospects for re-election. He has just a seven seat majority.
The Liberals have 177 seats and need 170 to keep a majority after the October vote. Acting on a gun ban, even musing about one, makes zero political sense.
I spent part of last weekend at the Hamilton Gun Club doing some trap shooting.
This is not an activity that would be impacted by any “assault weapons” ban from the Liberals. Shotguns, the kind used in trap shooting, would not be covered by the ban.
Yet these gun owners, and I met young and old, men and women, were all talking about the possibility of being targeted by the Trudeau government.
To those that don’t talk to gun owners often there is a perception that they are all staunch Conservatives, would never vote Liberal. It’s not true.
Last election the Conservatives lost a motivated part of their base over opposition to Bill C-42 which brought in changes to Canada’s gun laws. Some gun owners upset over the changes voted for other parties, like the Liberals, others just didn’t vote.
If Trudeau goes ahead with the gun ban in any form he will be motivating the more than 2 million licenced gun owners to come out and vote against him. That will put every rural seat the Liberals hold, plus some suburban ones, at risk.
For what? It won’t improve public safety at all because it won’t do anything to take guns away from criminals.
Will urban voters save Trudeau?
Liberals might think that they don’t need to be worrying about these at risk ridings but can urban voters really make up the difference?
They already have every seat in downtown Toronto, they have seats in Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Halifax and elsewhere. They can’t win many more urban seats but they can lose others.
This idea may sound good to the Liberal brain trust, it may play well in focus groups and for many in the media that don’t understand the first thing about firearms but it will in the end hurt Liberals with the very kind of people they need to win over in order to stay in power.
Trudeau should walk away from this idea. That’s if he wants to stay in power.