Alberta Politics
Nuts are great for healthy snacks; not so much for sound public safety policy advice (Photo: Sage Ross, Creative Commons).

Winding up the gun nuts: Liberals respond to Trudeau’s self-inflicted brownface crisis with a classic counterattack

Posted on September 23, 2019, 12:11 am
7 mins

Years ago, I worked with a union organizer who deployed an effective tactic when one of his unionization drives met resistance from an employer: Launch a diversionary attack from an unexpected quarter.

This was the poor-man’s version of the doctrine of both the Prussian officer corps and the United States Marines: turn toward flanking fire and advance until the guns fall silent.

Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Gunfire metaphors may be in bad odour nowadays, but they are an entirely appropriate way to discuss the Liberal Party of Canada’s immediate response to the release of those excruciating photos of Justin Trudeau’s brownface escapades two decades ago, roiling the governing party’s re-election campaign.

Seeing the prime minister’s past politically incorrect behaviour exposed by media and effectively exploited by Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives — ironic considering how Conservatives are normally obsessed with assailing advocates of political correctness as limp-wristed ninnies — it didn’t take the Liberals even a day to pivot and attack one of the weakest points in the Conservative lines.

To wit: The gun nuts in their midst.

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier and Conservative Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer in happier times (Photo: Public Domain).

Yes, Liberals had been promising policy during the campaign to deal with the scourge of gun violence plaguing Canadian cities and widespread Canadian fears the U.S. epidemic of mass shootings may cross the 49th Parallel, but it was likely to be timid and nuanced.

But facing an existential crisis of their feckless leader’s own creation, the Liberals clearly moved the timing up, and probably stiffened the sinews, summoned up the blood to toughen the policy sufficiently to make it actually effective.

Or, to paraphrase Shakespeare a second time, it’s nice to have a horse on hand when you need one — or, in this case, a whole corral of horses’ asses.

Canadian Conservatives, as is widely understood, are snuggled deeply into bed with the foreign-funded gun lobby and wild-eyed Canadian NRA wannabes who, notwithstanding the absence of a Second Amendment in our peaceable Dominion’s Constitution, assert a constitutional right to introduce the conditions necessary for regular gun massacres to happen here too.

Gun nuts as they see themselves: (Photo: United States Army).

The Conservatives’ constant invocation of the “law abiding gun owner” is not very persuasive, but wasn’t high on the radar for a lot of Canadians who were nevertheless favourably enough disposed toward sensible gun-control laws to distrust such rhetoric.

But the thing about the gun fanatics and their overwrought defence of assault rifles, almost-assault rifles and pistols for the peeps is this: they just can’t shut up. (If you doubt this characterization, just watch the comments section below for the next few days! *)

Faced with a pivotal moment when the best thing they could do to help the party of their probable choice would be to shut the hell up, they’re rushing into the breach screaming about their supposed right to practice their anti-social hobby and their need to have guns on hand to overthrow imagined future governments.

As an aside, what kind of democratic government in waiting, which Mr. Scheer’s Conservatives are purported to be, would tolerate this kind of talk in their ranks?

So, while desperate times may call for desperate measures, the Liberals’ desperation tactic puts the Conservatives in an interesting box.

If their pistol-packin’ partisans won’t shut up, and they certainly won’t, Mr. Scheer has little choice but to keep repeating unconvincing bromides about the law-abidingness of gun owners. If he doesn’t sound persuasive enough, he just might lose the nutters and their valuable votes to Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada.

Gun nuts as others see them (Photo: Found on the Internet, no attribution).

This helps the Liberals establish the narrative that the Conservatives are not merely the party of unsavoury “old-stock” Canadians, but of dangerous bump-stock Canadians too!

What’s more, the louder the gun nuts holler, the more the real crazies within their ranks will crawl out from under their rocks. I kid you not, they’re already screeching on Twitter about how the black-helicopter boys from the United Nations are behind the plot to snatch their beloved AR-15s.

And the more the crazies dominate the discussion, the more Liberal proposals will start to make sense to a lot of voters in urban Canada.

Will this work? Too soon to say.

We’re certainly about to see a bunch of polls, many of them tendentious and methodologically unsound, indicating Mr. Trudeau’s embarrassment is driving supporters away from his Liberals. Whether this is a bump, a meaningful trend or wishful thinking remains to be seen.

But as my former colleague’s strategy illustrated, nothing blunts an attack like an energetic counterattack.

Canada’s gun nuts, standing ready to flood the Internet and the airwaves with full-on hysteria tinged with diagnosable paranoia, make an excellent target.

The gun “rights” mob certainly isn’t going to help Andrew Scheer by yelling, “Break out the Winchesters!” But just try to shut them up!

* With any luck, this crack will act as a deterrent.

17 Comments to: Winding up the gun nuts: Liberals respond to Trudeau’s self-inflicted brownface crisis with a classic counterattack

  1. Rocky

    September 23rd, 2019

    Break out the Winchesters? Break out the ArmaLites more like!

  2. Dave

    September 23rd, 2019

    I had always thought the Liberals were holding back something on the issue of guns, to be used strategically if or more likely when needed. Clearly it is a bit of a rainy day time for the Liberals now so this doesn’t seem surprising they are using it at this time.

    To use boxing metaphors, the Liberals have been hit hard and are reeling a bit. However, unless there is something else to come out of the tickle trunk, this was probably the Conservatives best shot. Now it is time for the Liberals to start to hit back. The gun issue was an easy one already in their back pocket, ready to use. I suspect the Liberals are already also combing through old year books and all that.

    Mr. Scheer seems like the bland sort, so there may not be much to dig up on him, but you never know. These days allegations or rumors that sound even slightly credible are often as powerful or more powerful than actual evidence. Also, while their leader comes across as bland, I suspect the Conservative Party has its fair share or more of colourful and high profile individuals who have some interesting and perhaps yet unrevealed skeletons in their closets. The vetting process for both parties seems to be less than perfect. Of course one dilemma for the Liberals is timing. It’s probably better to save anything more damaging for later in the campaign, if possible, when it may have the most impact and it will be more diificult or not possible to replace candidates.

    Not that I think Mr. Trudeau is comparable to the US President, but this sort of reminds me of the Access Hollywood tapes that came out in the last US Presidential election. They were very damaging and at the time it looked like they torpedoed the President’s chances. He even actually had to do something he tried to avoid and hated – apologize and show a bit of contrition. We know how that ended, there were a few more surprising twists and turns in that campaign before the end. I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar happens here.

  3. Ron

    September 23rd, 2019

    Restrict guns and ban assault weapons?
    Good promise but Jr is not well known for keeping promises.

    What I think about this kabuki theatre election so far….

    1) ‘Sheer’ hypocrisy from the CONs whose leader very recently & explicitly re-endorsed his own candidates that have repented their racist behavior.
    CON voters know this and are likely bored by the hand wringing. Other voters recognize the deceit outright.

    2) Jagmeet is doing better but the media is not doing him any favours with the endless ‘how does a person of colour really feel?’ He should pivot more quickly to the very good policies he is proposing (unlike Mulcair/2015)

    3) Despite hiring the Prince of Darkness to improve communications, May can’t help but put her foot in her mouth. The abortion & separatist flaps cost her votes and momentum and her buy-CDN-oil-ploy (requiring massive ‘sunk costs’ investment in pipelines and esp refineries) has confused both her base and the great unwashed. Green peaked a while back.

    4) Is Jr inadvertently racist? Perhaps but most of us recognize that we have baggage from growing up in a racist world. It’s the lack of judgement that bothers me. A 29 yr old teacher in 2001 should have known better and a 35 yr old putative Liberal candidate in 2008 who was ‘too embarrassed’ to reveal these incidents should have decided not to run. Nobody wants an airhead for PM.

    5) Max ‘lost’ the CON leadership by so close a margin in such a convoluted voting system that the party had to destroy the ballots hours after they were counted. As Stalin might have said, “It doesn’t matter who votes, only who counts the votes”. I am pleased to see Max make the debates and I hope he takes enough votes across the country to stymie our milquetoast Andy.

    If we get very lucky we’ll get a weak Lib minority that needs Green & Orange (but not Bloc) support.
    And if the Green/Orange then focus on outcomes (like 1963-68 and 1972-74 & current BC situation) rather than plot to take power and trigger an early election ……….

    • Scotty on Denman

      September 27th, 2019

      Agreed: Scheer’s performance is pretty bad, stilted, insincere, contrived and ineffective. Given the generally shambling performances of May, JT, Max (and I ain’t even know about the Bloc), Jagmeet can hardly help but look comparatively better. He should hold steady and avoid getting dragged into the mud with the Big Two—so far, so good. I think he’s gonna surprise everybody. I think May might have already jumped the shark; because this is her ‘do-or-die’ opportunity—that is, her last—she has to pull out all the stops. And she’s tripping up a lot when the Greens should be riding a wave.

      The longer it appears a dead heat between the Big Two, tactical voting will be considered by many voters, the strategy naturally being to keep the ScheerCons out. Everybody’s talking about a minority government. I’ve even heard May and Singh ruminate impolitically —leaders should never speculate on the composition of the HoC before an election: it presumes to know how voters will vote before they vote—potentially fomenting resentment and electorate reaction—and it also risks demoralizing party volunteers. But tactical-voting truly illustrates the fundamental difference between voters and politicians: it’s perfectly legitimate for voters to consider tactical-voting and to discuss it openly amongst each other. The clue that it’s worth considering is that most politicians, especially leaders (at least good ones) condemn it roundly for patently biased reasons.

      I think the fact that JT was a drama teacher somewhat absolves his ill-fated decision to where makeup on stage—especially in roles that had traditionally required it and were still cast that way at the time. The whole thing was less a waste of time than I initially feared: some telling reaction was observed.

      Scheer’s was very bad, almost carved of rote-wood, too quick out of the blocks and too outraged by half as to look like the second punch of a one-two set-up, and too reminding of the irony that the CPC and evil spawn PPC actually own the racism accusation themselves—truly an hypocrisy on Andrew’s part, and probably a net negative for his party, no matter who went to the trouble of putting the smear together.

      May looked incredibly shaky and fumbling in response after getting entangled in a turban-flap by supposed Dipper turncoats to the Greens in New Brunswick.

      Maxime Bernier was only too happy to pop in for a shit-eating smile opportunity, ready to kiss babies of low ethnic diversity. It’s remarkable that Singh comes out the best of them all, perhaps even more so that JT is probably the close runner-up—but May flubbed while Scheer and Bernier highlighted their most vulnerable flanks.

      I don’t know about the Bloc, how it reacted to the blackface fiasco, but it seems every party walks on eggs around this issue in Quebec, anyway—even while openly forecasting a complete sweep-out of the NDP there because of Singh’s ethnicity and turban in a province which just opted out of the Charter in order to enact a ban on religion-identifying garb for provincial public employees. I’m not sure it’s ever that simple in Quebec. Recall just a couple years ago ad hoc ‘antifa’ protesters forced far-right La Meute marchers to take cover in underground parking, even attacking police assigned to the anti-immigrants’ defence.

      Mainstream news media seems content to present the dead-heat model for as long as possible along with party popularity polls composed of national averages, neither of which much assists voters contemplating tactical voting—at least not specifically which candidate the best tactical choice in their respective ridings. But, presuming a hung result where either of the Big Two are the likely minority government, either will have a field of several parties and Independents to consider for parliamentary support. The trouble here is that some voters will be tempted to give one of these potential balance-of-power holders their vote instead of voting for the better tactical choice in an overall strategy to keep the ScheerCons out.

      Keeps it all very interesting. Voters still need to consider very carefully what they’ll do with their votes, and that requires a concerted effort to estimate the relative popularities of candidates in any given riding. Is tactical voting worthwhile in that riding? If so, should one do it? And which candidate is the best tactical choice?

      Short form: Greens plateau and/or fade; Cons stay near the lower margin-of-error tie behind the Liberals’ upper; NDP continues steady, if modest rise; PPC gets its 2¢-worth of the votes everywhere except Max’s own riding; Only place less predictable than Jody’s riding is Quebec. Subject to change.

  4. Political Ranger

    September 23rd, 2019

    Uh huh, I been around these here parts long enough now that I recognise a bunch of those nuts in your banner picture.

    They look harmless but nutjobs are not distinguished by their looks; nutjobs are dangerous because of their ignorance, their lack of comprehension and their violent knee-jerk reactions.

  5. David in Sask

    September 23rd, 2019

    Gun nuts is very appropriate indeed!

    Scheer could easily discourage this for Alberta. If he loses 500 votes in each Alberta constituency the conservative candidate will only win by a thousand votes or six thousand votes in rural seats. Not much to worry about as far as Alberta seats go.

    But he won’t unless Harper says to.

  6. Jim

    September 24th, 2019

    So to distract from Trudeau’s blunder exposing that he is as full of it as has been suspected he will pretend that gun control will stop the violence? Gun nuts will play their role perfectly, allowing any sane questions about the role pharmaceuticals may play in mass shootings or the lack of a future for young people due to the gutting of the Canadian economy by Liberal and conservative governments to be written off.
    Perfect storm indeed the MSM can’t touch big pharma because they pay the bills, also their foreign owners love international trade deals so nothing there. Narrow thinking Urban voters get a chance to not only look down on rural voters but cling to the false sense of security that somehow restricting legal gun and ammunition sales will protect them from the local gang member who likely isn’t getting his gun through legal channels anyway.
    Everyone plays their part but the problem doesn’t get solved.

  7. Billz

    September 24th, 2019

    Maybe the government should start restricting what journalist can write… since most of the crap you guys write is far left commie BS.

    • David Climenhaga

      September 24th, 2019

      I rest my case. There will be more. DJC

      • Jim

        September 24th, 2019

        Will there be more that you can publish though? Personally getting a little tired of the everyone that doesn’t agree with me is either a commie or a fascist crowd depending on where you put yourself on the political spectrum. If you are so insecure in your position that name calling is all you have perhaps you need to rethink you position. If thinking isn’t your thing don’t feel the need to share I won’t be offended.

    • John A

      September 26th, 2019

      How about you try and justify your need to own an AR-15 outside of ” I like ’em”?

  8. Just Me

    September 24th, 2019

    All this means is that the Left should actually make the Right-wingnuts paranoid fantasies come to reality – arm yourselves to the teeth and let the shooting begin. After a good and bloody civil war, the gun nuts will be wiped out (No doubt their collective death wish realized.) sanity can return to discourse. I’ve said many times that a good cull of humanity is essential. Given the absence of large-scale and extremely bloody wars, we are beginning to see that the humanity’s looney bin is overflowing.

  9. Derek

    September 24th, 2019

    You’re three times more likely to encounter Mr. Trudeau in blackface than you are to be shot be an AR15 in Canada

  10. Jerrymacgp

    September 25th, 2019

    So, the civilian market version of the AR-15 & its off-brand clones are nothing more than semi-automatic rifles in .223 calibre, aka 5.56 mm NATO. There are many semi-automatic hunting rifles sold in Canada, and while the AR-15 looks very much like a military assault rifle, in terms of firing rate it is no different than those other, more conventional looking semi-autos. There are legitimate concerns about magazine size, and about how easily they can be converted by an amateur in his basement workshop into full-auto … and I don’t know enough about that to comment on it. But, really, I’m not sure a ban on these weapons would have enough impact on public safety to justify the political Sturm und Drang that would ensue.

    On the other hand — lol — there is the matter of a handgun ban. In my view, no Canadian civilian needs a handgun, period. They have no legitimate sporting purpose, unlike hunting arms, and aside from punching little holes in paper targets they already have no lawful use in this country. Ban them completely except for military and law-enforcement use, and introduce stiff penalties for their possession. Also tighten border screening to keep them from drifting over the border from the Benighted States. As for those already in circulation, an Aussie-style buyback programme, combined with an aggressive law enforcement effort to get them out of the hands of street gangs and other miscreants, would dramatically limit their prevalence in Canadian society, and over time they should become increasingly rare.

    • Anthony

      October 22nd, 2019

      Handguns have a 100% sporting purpose. Jerry .M, the fastest handgun shooter in the world would disagree heavily with your hand gun perspective. There are many sponsors that invest in competition handgun ranges, shooter, and firearms. All done with Restricted Class Possesion Acquisition Licenses. Restricted is level 2 class and requires higher strength background checks DAILY by a RCMP law enforcement computer data base.

      No one NEEDS a hand gun, except military/law enforcement, and other approved agencies.

      But a civilian CAN responsibly own a hand gun by abiding by the very safe storage and safe transport laws already in place. Have fun at the range and practice, then if you feel skilled take your skills to competition level. How can you be come a professional sponsored shooter, if you can never even be offered access to the SPORT.

  11. anon

    September 26th, 2019

    The handgun is the lawyer and court of the drug trade. De-criminalize all drugs and put the “lawyers” out of work.

  12. Jeff B

    October 22nd, 2019

    Mr. Climenhaga, to hear such rhetoric and disdain towards the citizens of our country who own guns is shameful of you. You talk of “nutters” who are looking for the next civil war, or an Armageddon to arrive, but you sir, are a nutter, just on the other end of the scale.

    As Canadians, we are known for respecting other people, and their differences. You clearly do not like guns, and have no respect for people who do. That is your right. To degrade and insult other Canadian citizens because of their choice of hobby, is despicable, especially since your a member of the media.

    For the record I am not a gun owner, but I have educated myself on the process, and the different firearms that are being debated. The citizens of this great country you deride, are the safest, and most law abiding sector of the population. I don’t think you realize what is required to obtain a licence to own a firearm, because if you did, you would apologize for your comments here.

    They must have a squeaky clean record, have no mental issues, and must physically prove they can safely handle a firearm. If they fail any of these they will not be allowed to obtain a firearm.

    These citizens are also checked daily against a national criminal database, and if their name appears on it, police seize their firearms literally within hours, and sometimes before they are even released if arrested.

    I urge you to educate yourself regarding this issue, rather than spout your uneducated, and biased opinions that do nothing to solve the problems we are having in this country.

    Though I suspect you will be no better than most people on this issue, who are too lazy to research this topic, and find the facts out for themselves.

    We need real solutions to these real problems !!!

    How about no bail or release for crimes involving a firearm, or a life sentence for a gang affiliated criminal who commits a crime with a firearm? How about deporting an individual, if they come from another country, and commit a crime with a firearm, regardless whether they have earned citizenship?

    These are real solutions rather than curtail the privileges of a safe sector of Canadian society, or stealing their property that they have paid hard earned money for. That is what confiscation amounts to is illegal theft.

    Real solutions for real problems, not rhetoric, disdain, and misinformation.


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