Thursday, May 07, 2009

Wayne Easter on the Gun Registry

Wayne Easter:

"a number of factors really. One of the big ones, which was a catalyst to us losing a lot of constituencies in rural Canda, was actually the gun control bill, the long-gun registry.
"It just seemed to be a catalyst that provoked a reaction that the Liberals didn't identify with rural Canadians."

I would like to now just what seats he is talking about and why he talking about a long-gun registry when there is but one gun registry.

The evidence that the gun registry hurt the Liberals is just not there. First of all West of Ontario there were no safe rural Liberal seats to loose.

The Liberals were shut out in Alberta in 1972, 1974, 1979, 1980, 1984, 1988. As for those seats that went Liberal in 1993, 1997, 2000 and 2004, they were not rural seats --- they were in Edmonton -- nor where they safe. “Landslide” Anne McLellan was good case in point.

The situation in Saskatchewan was similar. The Liberals were shut out there in 1979, 1980, 1984, and 1988. As for seats the Liberals won there in 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008, there has proven to be but one safe seat and Ralph Goodale still holds it. Moreover, the Wascana is not a rural seat.

The situation is not nearly as bleak for the Liberals in Manitoba. However, the Liberals took only one rural seat in 1993, and 1997 and Provencher (MP Vic Toews) could never be described as a safe Liberal seat. It was not a Liberal stronghold prior to 1993 and the Liberals owed their success there more to a spilt in the conservative vote than anything else. Combined the PC and Reform was much greater than Liberals in both 1993 and 1997 elections.

The Liberal popular support in Manitoba is concentrated in Winnipeg. Going back all the way to world war two you can on one hand the number of seats the Liberals have won outside of Winnipeg Edmonton, and Ralph Goodale’s seat in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The Liberals faired just as poorly in rural BC during this time, but again Liberal troubles in rural BC long predated the gun registry. The Liberals won but 1 seat in 1979, 1984 and 1988 and were shut out in 1980.

As for Ontario, the Liberals share of the popular vote and seats was stable between 1993 and 2000 and when the Liberal vote did drop significantly in 2004, it was not to the Conservatives’ benefit when it came to the popular vote. Indeed, the combined PC and Reform vote in each of the three subsequent elections was 37%. In 2004 the Conservatives took only 31% of popular vote. If I am not mistaken, this represents the lowest share of the popular vote by a united Conservative party ever. Even in 2006 the Conservative share of the province’s popular vote was below the combined right wing vote between 1993 and 2000. Moving from the Liberals to the NDP is a strange way to protest your displeasure with the gun registry and that is what happened in Ontario in 2004.

Only in the Martimes is the notion that the gun registry hurt the Liberals consistent with record. However, three things should be noted in this regard. 1) The Liberals have faired very well in Maritimes during this time. 2) The Conservatives have not gained that much. In 2004 the Conservative vote totals were below the combined vote totals for the two right parties in every election since Mulroney and that includes 1993. 3) The unpopularity of EI reforms hurt the Liberals in the 1997.

Results in seat rich Quebec are consistent with gun registry helping in Quebec.

Now, what is implicit in what Easter is saying is that somehow there is gains to be made in rural Canada and that somehow the Liberals have maxed out in major cities. This is simply not true. Looking strictly at the numbers, it is easy to see that all the low hanging fruit for the Liberals is suburban Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. The gun registry is winner in these seats.

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