At the start of this election, it looked like the Liberals’ arrogance would prove to be their undoing. While polls had them riding high with approvals prior to the election, it appears that it wasn’t a license to go call an election. The public seemed to be willing to punish the Liberals for pulling the trigger.
Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives released their platform and it appeared that they weren’t as bad of a boogeyman as some had feared. They were suddenly a reasonable alternative. Until the Liberals decided to throw out bait to trap them.
Gun control has entered now into the election as what might become a defining moment. The Liberals have accused the Conservatives of double speak. Erin O’Toole has said he will maintain the assault gun ban, yet has promised to the gun rights lobby, to permit weapons the Liberals have banned.
This has resulted in a bit of a change of fortunes for the Liberals:
This is a sad state of affairs for the Conservatives. Especially after coming out of the gate so strongly. Gun control is an issue that isn’t as fundamental to the political landscape as it is in the United States. Canadians understand hunters enjoy the sport, but aren’t willing to let any gun be sold on the shelves as it would be in the States. The majority are in favour of restrictions and regulations. Gun rights advocates tend to be a vocal minority on this side of the border. And they are a minority.
It’s clear that they have set their political home with the Conservative Party. However this has become a detriment to the CPC, as they have mistaken the importance of this minority in securing their political futures. National issues that are on people’s minds this election, like climate change has fallen from the narrative.
The Conservatives could take back the narrative by shifting to their plans to address this important topic. However that might a bit of a stretch as their grassroots are timid to make this the centre of their election bid to the country.
This has been the danger facing the Conservatives for sometime now. In fact conservatism has been facing it globally for the majority of the century. In an effort to mobilise and activate a loyal base for each election, right leaning parties have alienated moderates and centrist voters. Instead of focusing on niche topics like gun control, the majority of voters have looked at climate change, and now the COVID-19 recovery as top issues that will determine their votes. Overtime, this has created a larger and larger polarisation between their base and the rest of the country. The problem is that the Conservatives and other right leaning parties are think that this echo chamber is the majority of the country.
There is still time to get the narrative back on track for Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives. However, it’s going to be dependent on listening to what is keeping the rest of Canada up awake at night.