Canadian Election 2011: Harper’s Conservatives singing gun registry tune once again

Harper is out today re-introducing the gun registry debate. One can see the potential strategic logic, particularly in a targeted way. What I find striking, here we are well in this election campaign, and it seems the Conservative Party is essential BEREFT of ideas. 

The big Conservative themes to date, the coalition, campaign financing and the gun registry. None of the issues are new, the lines are the same, it’s tired, old, rehash and re-introduction. Again, not a statement on strategy, but more an indictment of a party clearly running on philosophical FUMES. 

The only "new" pledges the Conservatives have made, the paltry commitments, revolve around the future, dependent on yet unforeseen events. In other word, we have a entire campaign which is offering nothing for today, either drawing on the past for inspiration or point to some nebulous future to curry favour.

People may remember that barely two years into their mandate, we heard whispers of Conservatives trying to come up with new policies, there was a intellectual defict that needed tending. At the time I was amazed, given 13 years in opposition and only having 5 election commitments on the books, seemed odd that the Conservatives were essentially SPENT on the policy front. As we sit here today, those early signs were more foreshadowing, because one is hard pressed to find many legislative successes after the initial wave of early legislation. In fact, there really hasn’t been much going on in Ottawa, apart from re-introducing crime pieces or the occasional reaction to current events. With this backdrop in mind, we are seeing the culmination during this campaign, the Conservatives basically have nothing new to offer anyone.

The lack of policy underscores the need to run on fear, really no different than the bankrupt Martin government. The first days of a campaign is where you set the tone, so it’s fair to say the Conservative policy department is THIN at best. On every score, we’ve already had protracted debate in this country, the gun registry has gone on for four elections, the coalition a national conversation, campaign finance, heard it all before. Maybe the early perception of "flat" was more to do with the geniune lack of excitement in rallying behind already plowed terrain. Sure, it might work politically, but it’s hardly anything that captures people’s imaginations. Scrambling for any type of forward vision, we get these bizarre commitments after the next election. 

It totality, this might just be the oddest campaign in recent memory. The past and future are covered, the present, not so much. The whole presentation sharpens a focus toward a Conservative government which has really lost the rationale to govern, more about retaining power than offering a compelling reason to want it.

Click HERE to read more from Steve Val.

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