Why Doesn’t Michael Ignatieff Get Rural Canada?


Michael Ignatieff MPTHUNDER BAY – Out of the frying pan, into the fire. That seems to be curriculum that Professor Michael Ignatieff seems to be offering. Just as the Liberal leader promises rural Canadians that the party will seek to better understand their issues, he steps in front of a microphone to promise Chiefs of Police that the Liberal Party is the party that supports gun control.

It is likely that with virtually no rural seats across the country that Ignatief’s briefing resources on rural issues could be far slimmer than it should be.

Back in February, Ignatieff stated, “I believe in a strong Canada, a Canada in which economic opportunity and quality of life can be achieved in all regions, urban and rural,” said Mr. Ignatieff. “The road to prosperity in rural Canada starts here – by addressing the real priorities that rural Canadians have told us to pursue.”

On April 19th, Ignatieff said,  “But we won’t abandon gun control. Not when rifles and shotguns are responsible for half the police officers killed in the line of duty in the last few years. Not when the gun registry is a vital tool that law enforcement uses every single day.”

“Let me be perfectly clear: the Liberal Party opposes the Conservative government’s effort to scrap the gun registry altogether and we will vote against the Hoeppner bill at third reading in the House of Commons,” said Mr. Ignatieff.  “Instead, we’re proposing sensible changes that address the legitimate concerns of our rural caucus, while upholding the integrity of the gun registry.”

The comments from the Liberal leader emphasis that the Liberal disconnect from rural Canada is far deeper than ever, and is likely to continue to grow.

One of the common claims used by supporters of how valuable a tool the gun registry is to front-line police officers is the claim that it is consulted 11,000 times daily.

However what those supporters do not share is that those hits on the gun registry come from police each time they reference the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database.

In other words, there are not the 11,000 hits on the database that are a result of police saving Canadians from dangerous criminals with guns. What Ignatieff and the Liberals still fail to understand after over 15 years of pushing this scheme is that the people doing crimes with guns, especially the gang crimes and shootings in Vancouver, Edmonton, and Toronto are not people with gun licences and registration certificates.

That is the message from Dan Jorgensen, Chief of Police in Kenora, (Rtd.) who said, “Gun violence will not be solved by firearms registration laws because criminals, by definition, are people who don’t obey laws. The only people the long gun registry exerts any control over are law abiding gun owners who, generally speaking, aren’t inclined to commit violent crimes”.

It is a message that Ignatieff might well heed, but apparently doesn’t want to. For the Liberals, on this issue, the appearance of doing something has always been more important than actually doing something.

The Liberal Party, under Paul Martin, Stephane Dion, and now Michael Ignatieff has become increasingly the party of urban Canada. Once one leaves Southern Ontario, the number of Liberal MPs as one heads west is virtually none.

Manitoba has one Liberal MP, Saskatchewan has one, Alberta has none, and until you get to Vancouver where there are three Liberal MPs, you don’t find one in rural Canada.

If any other species of creature were in such small numbers, they would be extinct in under a generation. In the west, the Liberals effectively are.

Maybe one of the reasons Ignatieff and the Liberals remain so disconnected from rural Canada, is they keep pandering to the urbanites in Canada. The support that the party does have comes from Toronto, and the highly urban parts of Canada, and offending those areas would be politically foolish, in the eyes of the party brass.

It is a move that leaves very little grow room for the party.

Ignatieff’s statements on the gun registry are likely, within the Liberal caucus, to generate a fairly  high number of cases of MP flu. Those MPs from ridings where hunting, gun ownership, and anger against the Liberals is still simmering are putting their political careers on the line if they vote as Ignatieff is demanding they do.

Increasingly, Ignatieff is demonstrating that he still really doesn’t understand the political dynamics of Canada, and for such a highly educated man, that is a real shame.

That of course is just my opinion, as always, your mileage may vary.

James Murray

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