“Tonight’s vote- a pyrrhic victory of the first order.” – Conservative MP James Moore
Yesterday, the Liberals saved the long-gun registry and Stephen Harper was handed his first big loss in a long time. Not only was Bill C-391 defeated but Stephen Harper also failed to achieve his desired outcome. Harper couldn’t omnibus, confidence motion or prorogue his way out this one.
Yesterday was a hugely bad day for Prime Minister Harper but let me explain why today compounded upon it:
The U.N. Security Council:
- Prime Minister Harper gave his first United Nations speech in FOUR years (Stephen Harper likes to ignore important countries/institutions like China, India and the U.N. for 4 year periods.)
- This inspired a flurry of articles shedding light on Prime Minister Harper’s foreign policy failings: This appears to be a half-hearted/last-ditch effort, The Harper Conservatives seem to have abandoned Africa and Canada won meet its development goals, and Bob Fowler, Canada’s longest-serving UN ambassador, says no: “The world doesn’t need more of the Canada it has been getting.“
- Canada is the underdog in this race but it wasn’t until the pictures of Harper’s speech were released that this fact was driven home. Stephen Harper’s foreign policy has made Canada decline on the international stage to a point where we could lose to Portugal.
The G20 Costs:
- Thanks to the hard work of Liberal MP Dan Mcteague, the G20 cost breakdown was released.
- Harper’s Conservatives are back on the summit defensive as they ow have to explain the high price of glow sticks, sun screen and a “living wall” (which, until it was explained to me, I though was the term the PM used to describe his MPs.)
The Liberal’s Census Private Member’s Bill:
- The Liberal Party is tabling a private member’s bill that would restore the long-form census.
- The opposition parties are united on this issue and though there will be a lot “oooOOOOoooo scary coalition” nonsense, this could hand the Conservatives another loss.
So the day after a defeat, Stephen Harper went grovelling to gain a seat at a table that he doesn’t really want, while being slammed again for the summit spending and the census.
Why the Bill C-391 defeat was a defeat for Stephen Harper:
Before the September 22nd vote the media narrative was that repeal or no repeal, Stephen Harper would be the winner. The “logic” was that if it is repealed then the government bill masquerading as a private member’s bill would be a huge piece of red meat to the CPC base while also dividing Liberals/the NDP and attacking Michael Ignatieff’s leadership. If it was defeated then the CPC coffers would swell and rural Canadians (who according to the Conservatives only care about one thing and are rampantly frustrated with having to fill out forms) would produce an unending torrent of anger aimed directly at the Liberals.
Fortunately, none of this really happened:
- The excellent ThreeHundredEight.com blog has an article outlining how elevating the gun-registry issue will actually hurt Harper in urban ridings.
- The three issue mentioned above changed the story immediately. The heat was turned up so high that Tom Flanagan brought a prop gun to Power&Politics and sounded like a petulant child as he repeatedly said that he’d rather be talking about the registry.
- The Liberal Party is united for the first time in four years!
It takes a lot to united Liberals and with a new front bench the party was forged in the fire of Michael Ignatieff’s summer tour and this first controversial vote.
- In reality: Conservative math doesn’t add up on gun registry. As with many other issues, Harper’s Conservatives are out of touch with Canadians. The majority of us agree with the police and know that the registry is a valuable crime-fighting tool.
- Harper is also being panned for the fact that the gun registry debate took so long and for trying to divide Canadians.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried to push his dumb-on-crime agenda through the back door but was stopped. In game-theory terms his Candice Hoeppner’s bill se up a game of chicken. The Tory car came speeding down the track and Michael Ignatieff took his hand’s off the wheel by announce the vote would be whipped. This forced the NDP to do the right thing and with no other option Harper’s car turned at the last second.
Now the opposition is united and Stephen Harper was publicly embarrassed.
King Pyrrhus was a Greek General. He defeated the Romans at Heraclea in 280 BC and Asculum in 279 BC during the Pyrrhic War. In both battles the casualties on his side were way higher than on the Roman’s so their casualties did less damage to their war effort than Pyrrhus’s casualties did to his.
Stephen Harper wasted money, political capital, time and the good will of Canadians all to fail to repeal a bill that Canadian’s support. I agree with Mr. Moore, the situation is indeed Pyrrhic for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.