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Fellow Liberal Turns On Trudeau Over Gun Comments
Justin Trudeau has scrambled to explain his stance on gun control with the politically polarizing issue providing an early test in his Liberal leadership campaign.
The fallout from his sudden disavowal of the long-gun registry has required the front-running candidate to deal with a controversial policy debate just days after the flareup over unflattering remarks he once made about Alberta.
Trudeau handled it Monday by trying to appeal to both sides.
He spent a news scrum with reporters juggling questions on an issue that resurfaced over the weekend with his description of the Liberals' registry as a failed policy.
Trudeau explained that he hadn't actually flip-flopped on the gun registry. In fact, he said, he always supported it, and still does support it in principle. But he said that now that it's gone it's too divisive to try bringing back.
In the next breath, however, Trudeau added that he supports Quebec's effort to bring it back in that province because he said the measure is not controversial there.
Finally, he offered his explanation of how the long-gun registry fits into his definition of a "failed" public policy.
"I voted to keep the firearms registry a few months ago and if we had a vote tomorrow I would vote once again to keep the long-gun registry," Trudeau told reporters.
"However, the definition of a failed public policy is the fact that the long-gun registry is no more... The fact is, because it was so deeply divisive for far too many people, it no longer exists." He repeated that definition of public policy, in both English and French.
Trudeau said he would rather spend the next three years, before the federal election, trying to find evidence-based policies that will unite Canadians and not divide them.
He made the remarks while touring a mall in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. Trudeau exchanged greetings with several dozen people as he went into shops.
A Quebec reporter asked Trudeau about that province's legal fight to keep its portion of the registry and he replied: "I find it's a very good idea. Because in Quebec it was not at all as divisive as it was elsewhere in the country," Trudeau said.
"Perhaps a solution is to let provinces find different solutions. What's important is protecting Quebecers from gun violence."
The performance earned him a scathing rebuttal from a prominent gun-control advocate.
A survivor of the Montreal polytechnique massacre, which occurred 23 years ago this week, Heidi Rathjen pushed for the creation of the federal registry. On Monday she blasted not only Trudeau's gun policy but also his broader approach to leadership.
"It's just political garbage," she said of Trudeau's policy.
"He's basically saying that the registry is a good thing only where it's popular, but that's not what a political leader does, that's not how you lead — by implementing a public safety measure only where there's no controversy...
"It's not clear, it's confusing and I think it's a cop-out because he wants to please everybody and then he ends up pleasing nobody."
Meanwhile, Trudeau was drawing criticism Monday from people inside and outside his political party.
Another Liberal leadership candidate, Joyce Murray, called Trudeau's initial remarks "disturbing," particularly with the Dec. 6 Polytechnique anniversary looming. She told the CBC that she has always been a strong registry supporter and said she was glad Trudeau had clarified his remarks Monday.
Trudeau was also criticized by an activist former Liberal minister of justice.
Martin Cauchon, who is still pondering whether to run for the leadership himself, told The Canadian Press that leadership contenders need to show they'll stand up for Liberal principles and values.
And he said the controversial registry, created by the government of Jean Chretien in which Cauchon served, is an important part of the party's legacy.
"I believe that we have to update our policies and make sure that next election we're going to be able to show leadership to Canadians," Cauchon said in an interview. "But, you know what, I believe as well ... that a candidate running should have the backbone to respect and stand for the principles that we have always stood for."
Cauchon said party renewal shouldn't mean Liberals have to turn their back on accomplishments such as the Charter of Rights, official bilingualism or even the gun registry.
But Trudeau's position appeared to be seconded by a prominent leadership rival.
Fellow Montreal MP Marc Garneau, thought to be Trudeau's primary challenger, essentially agreed with the front-runner, athough he weighed his words carefully.
"The long gun registry had a lot of very good points and some bad points. On the good side, it was supported by the great majority of police associations in the country, by the RCMP, by victims groups and many others. On the other side of the coin, it was opposed by many Canadians in rural communities in this country. There's no question about it, it was an extremely divisive issue," he said in Ottawa.
"It's gone now. The Conservatives have killed it. Let's move on to other things. It is not my intention to spend more money to bring it back."
Trudeau also received some pushback for stating over the weekend that gun ownership is a key part of Canada's culture.
Garneau declined to criticize Trudeau directly for saying the registry was a failure or for describing gun ownership as part of Canada's culture, other than to say: "I would not have characterized it that way."
The NDP's Nathan Cullen, who represents a rural B.C. riding and opposed the registry, said the comments smacked of insincerity. He said it was a strange position to take for someone who had been a passionate defender of the registry.
"As somebody who represents and lives in rural Canada, it seems to reduce us down to people who simply own guns," Cullen said.
"This is not who we are. We are many things. And people can smell pandering when they see it. Canadians can tolerate quite a bit from their political leaders. Hypocrisy is, generally speaking, not one of those things."
Cauchon also blasted Trudeau for the guns-as-culture comment.
"The point is pretty simple. We're not living in the (United) States," where Americans have a constitutional right to bear arms, Cauchon said. "We're building a different society."
The NDP, meanwhile, still promises to introduce a long-gun measure if elected.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, whose own party has been split on the issue in the past, reiterated that a New Democrat government would recreate a gun registry — with some improvements to mollify gun owners, such as decriminalizing failure to register.
- I need to bury my face deeply into Justin Trudeau's ass.
I am going to post that on every thread having to do with him ever. He is the most gorgeous politician of all time (I'm not even Canadian).
- That's a pretty big misstep on his part. I think he could be a good leader, but he really needs more experience.
- He will never be PM. too much the dilettante.
- This is just the Conservative Party attacking their biggest threat.
Surveys already show that Trudeau actually got a bit of a bounce in the polls because of this. However, not in the polls paid for by the right wing Canadian Conservative Party, where Trudeau's future is mud and he should leave politic immediately right...... like right now, the sooner the better....... pick Sheila Copps or run Iggnatief again please......
- I think Justin realizes that the Liberal Party needs to reach out to rural Canadians if it is going to re-build and that it can't just appeal to urban folks in Toronto and Montreal.
He's trying to balance respecting the rights of rural Canadians with the need for gun control in the cities.
- r4 = Trudeau fangurl, and liberal who is living in fantasy land. No matter how many times the cons get in, he tells himself that the tide is turning. Nope.
- [quote]I need to bury my face deeply into Justin Trudeau's ass.
I've heard that Justin has a huge uncut French-Canadian cock, R1.
- The Liberals don't need to reach out to rural voters. The reason they lost is they failed in the Greater Toronto Area vote.
Rural Canada is dying and nobody cares about it. The Liberals need to focus on the cities more.
The advantage the Cons have is Canadians cities are being swarmed by new immigrants, who support the Social Conservative agenda of Stephen Harper. (Read: hate gays and women too).
Harper is using GW Bushs playbook to beat up anyone who gets in his way. Trudeau needs to grow a pair and hit harder than Harper hits him.
Pierre Trudeau against Harper would have been a first round TKO, Harper dragged out of the ring on a stretcher.
- Running for Liberal leadership = vying to be the official chair rearranger on the deck of the Titanic.
- R9, I have gotten very tired of the NDP lately. It's because of vote-splitting by NDP voters in Toronto that the Conservatives won all those Toronto seats and got a majority in 2011.
- The NDP was the Jack Layton vote. He deserved it, but Jack is dead now and the vote will all go back to the Liberals because the NDP can't beat the increasing scary right wing government of Stephen Harper.
Enjoy the temporary stay as leader of the opposition, thank Jack for it. It will all be over in 2015.
- "Tories Are Turning Win To Loss On Trudeau Gaffe"
Here they go again. The Conservatives are about to turn a positive news story into a negative one. The bright lights on the Conservative side have decided to call Justin Trudeau and David McGuinty before the House of Commons Natural Resources committee to explain their negative comments about Alberta. Comments that both McGuinty and Trudeau have already apologized for and which in addition, led to McGuinty resigning from his critic's portfolio.
One would think someone in PMO would have figured out that they have already won this round. They forced an apology from both men, and they won the press war just prior to a byelection which they also won. In addition, they have some great quotes for a future election attack ad. So why go on a witch hunt? Why the zealous overkill?
I bet Justin Trudeau can't believe his good fortune. In his wildest dreams he could never have imagined that a House of Commons committee would haul him in to testify about his comments even though they had nothing to do with natural resources. He must be jumping with joy at this request to appear before the committee. The Conservatives have handed him a gift. They have validated both his and the opposition parties attack lines. What better example of a draconian government that is abusive, heavy-handed and petty could they ask for?
Can you imagine the media coverage the Conservatives have given Trudeau? Every reporter on the Hill will be there and there will almost certainly be live coverage of his testimony. Every time the Conservatives cut off one of his comments or when they gang up on him, they will be validating for the public their pettiness.
They have also given Trudeau a chance to read a statement into the record, what a wonderful opportunity for him to take the Conservatives to task. I bet he can't believe his good fortune and I am sure he will be only too eager to testify.
Last week, Albertans and Albertan MPs were the victims of clearly stupid comments made by Trudeau and McGuinty. The Conservative side has now given Trudeau the opportunity to reverse the role and play the victim to the Conservatives heavy handed approach. If he plays his cards right, he will be able to milk this throughout his leadership bid, and if he wins, right up to the next election.
It would be interesting to know who dreamt up this "Star Chamber" exercise.
Do the Conservatives believe voters won't see them as being vindictive and petty? Do they actually think they will win the media war when Trudeau testifies? Do they honestly believe MPs should be held accountable before a committee for divisive comments they made about a region of the country, even if those comments were made years ago? If they do, can the Conservative chair of the committee tell us when a certain MP by the name of Stephen Harper will appear before the committee to explain his "culture of defeat" comments about Atlantic Canada?
- I want Justin Trudeau to present his ass & cock when he is called before the House Committee.
- Have you heard the ads put out by Harper attacking Mulcair? They have been on the radio for weeks. Pretty disgusting when there is no election.
- R14, Harper does that to every Opposition leader now. He did that to Dion and Ignatieff, too. Harper has Republican advisers who tell him to stay in constant attack mode in between elections.
- R10, forget about "vote splitting" in Toronto. The rest of Ontario voted for Harper unmistakably.
Quebec led the way, in an unprecedented turnout for the NDP. We could have had a really strong govt, but the rest of Cda blew it.
The Liberals are finished, forget about them or Harper will be in forever. We have to support the NDP to get rid of Harper. Don't get hung up on personalities. It's parties. The Liberals are finished. Harper-Reform is ruining Canada. The NDP is the only hope.
- You are correct, R15. It is disgusting Republican tactics. Destroying them even before there is an election.
- No, R16. I am not going to write off the most successful party in Canadian history.
And there is no evidence yet that Mulcair or the NDP can do better than Layton did.
- They haven't been successful lately, R18. We can't afford Harper winning another election.
I would support them if they could win - doesn't look like they will. They can't be bothered to take Harper on. In the 1980s, the Liberals would criticize Mulroney vigorously. But in the last couple of decades their fire seems to have gone and they seem rather Tweedledum-ish. They don't stand for anything anymore and they cannot find a leader that will win. Baby Trudeau will be easy to attack and will get no seats in the West except for a handful in Vancouver.
- R19, the NDP are going down in the polls, and the Liberals are going up.
Let's wait until the next election before making any conclusions. We don't yet know who will be in the best position. We need to see who becomes the new Liberal leader and how Trudeau and Mulcair each do against Harper in the polls.
- Yes, I will support anyone who can beat Harper
- For Trudeau to become Prime Minister we need the NDP to go back to its traditional support, in single digits.
Then the vote splitting on the left will stop.
- R22, stop thinking like it is 1976. Things have changed. The Conservative Party isn't even the Progressive Conservative Party anymore. It is the Reform-Republican party and it must be defeated. We can't fool around.
The Liberals were the ones that were supported in single digits in the last election. It may stay that way. We have to back a winner and a STRONG opposition. Right now that is the NDP.
The biggest vote-splitting was by people voting GREEN and in certain ridings LIBERAL when they should have voted NDP. They could have won the election with all of that support in Quebec. The Liberals won in the 70s and 80s because of Quebec support. The Liberals are DEAD and UNELECTABLE in Quebec and the West. They can't win anymore.
- [quote] Right now that is the NDP.
Not anymore. Jack Layton is dead. Accept it and move on.
- R23 sounds like a spin doctor for the NDP.
The Liberals were not in the single digits in the last election - not anywhere close. They got 19% of the vote and currently polling at levels of 25, 30, 35% and above that of the NDP in many polls.
Justin Trudeau also placed FIRST in a recent CROP poll of voters in Quebec, beating Mulcair and the NDP.
- R25, here's a CROP poll from 2009:
Ignatieff maintains a large lead over Harper on the best Prime Minister measure. Ignatieff gets 35%, with Layton at 21%, Harper a lowly 19%.
They don't mean anything.
- R23 speaks truth. Liberal party is Conservative-lite, the only difference being their nominal support for socially progressive causes. Paul Martin had to fight his own MPs over the support for same-sex marriage. It's a party of upper middle class and wealthy bureaucrats with no clear agenda, social or fiscal.
I can see why the Conservatives appeal to a certain segment of population, as backward as they are. I can also see why the NDP appeals to a good number of people, myself included. Both parties have very clear agendas, two very different visions of where Canada should go. Who exactly are the potential voters that the Liberals are trying to reach? I am genuinely curious.
- 2011 election results, seats:
Quebec: Cons 5; NDP 59; Lib 7
Ontario: Cons 73; NDP 22; Lib 11
BC: Cons 21, NDP 12, Lib 2
Liberals looking like the single-digit ones.
The Liberal era is over. Dreaming about the 1970s will get us stuck with Harper forever.
- The Liberals have lost their way. They don't stand for anything anymore, and the support is going to Harper or NDP. The people still voting for them don't get it, are brainwashed to hate the NDP, or are on the Liberal Party payroll.
- Fear of Harper will force people to vote Liberal because only Jack Layton could have ever beat Harper. Sorry, but Mulclair rates just above Walmart greeter with the Canadian public.
"Scary Steve" is the Liberal Ticket. Steve is still very, scary.
- Thomas Mulcair lost his temper today into the House of Commons and nearly got into a physical alteration with the Conservative House Leader.
If Mulcair isn't able to keep his temper under control, he will harm his chances for the next election.
- Video clip of the fight between Mulcair and Van Loan: