John Ivison: O’Toole’s turnaround on gun policy could save his campaign

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Rising Tory fortunes have inevitably meant voters are taking a closer look at O’Toole. He shows great elasticity to show voters that they have nothing to fear

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Erin O’Toole gave his morning press conference with his back to Burrard Inlet, but in political terms he was back to the wall.

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The Liberals found their corner – gun control – and hammered it with enthusiasm. Justin Trudeau said on Sunday that O’Toole wanted to roll the country back on gun control. O’Toole has struggled to register a counterargument because the platform he is waving with abandon is clear – the Conservatives will uphold the 1977 ban on automatic weapons but repeal the May 2020 executive order, in which the Liberals have banned many semi-automatic weapons. The Conservative leader argued that his position is clear, but the only clarity was that the Liberals and the media would continue to prick this open wound until election day.

O’Toole intends to rename his party, which was evident in the response to a question about how he would reassure NDP voters by allowing them to vote for the party of their choice, rather than the Liberals of block a Conservative government.

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“We have a new leader, a new approach and a plan to put the country back on its feet and fight inequality,” he said.

  1. Conservative Party Leader Erin O'Toole addresses supporters during an election campaign visit to North Vancouver on September 3.

    John Ivison: Liberals put O’Toole on the defensive on gun control

  2. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole addresses the media after an election debate in French at TVA Studios in Montreal, Quebec, September 2, 2021. REUTERS / Christinne Muschi

    John Ivison: Erin O’Toole’s promises could be a matter of expediency in this election

Evidence of the new approach was evident when he preempted reporters’ questions on gun control by saying that the May Executive Order ban on semi-automatic weapons would remain in place, pending a review of the process. classification of firearms.

Can anyone imagine Stephen Harper or Andrew Scheer reversing themselves in such a humiliating way?

You can call it cynical or expedient – and I did – but in this case, it was a smart policy decision. The chief made the decision to cauterize the wound on a Sunday before a long weekend, in the hopes that the lesion would be healed at the time of chiefs’ debates later in the week.

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But if the issue of semi-automatic weapons has been postponed until after the election, the damage is done.

It was a problem of the chef’s own making.

O’Toole took tough positions in the Conservative leadership race and a number of them survived in moderate form in the election platform.

He has always maintained that hunting and target shooting is a way of life for millions of Canadians and that his enthusiasts should be respected as law-abiding Canadians. But that did not force him to approach the gun lobby and promise a review of the gun law “with the participation of law enforcement, gun owners, police officers, and police officers. manufacturers and the public, ”as it did in its leadership platform. The National Firearms Association has been particularly active in getting O’Toole elected as Prime Minister, registering as a third party to pledge to spend $ 400,000 on pre and postscript advertising to promote “rights, freedom and property ”of gun owners, NFA Chairman Sheldon Clare. told its members on August 19 that O’Toole did not support the May 20 decree. “He made it clear that he would cancel them,” he said. Maybe he should ask for his money back.

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A new leader, a new approach

But the chef had few options. His campaign was in danger of stalling if this issue were allowed to dominate. O’Toole led a strong and positive effort. He has performed well in his rare campaign events. “It’s not about the photography, Mr. Trudeau, but about the follow-up,” he said Saturday night in Nanaimo.

He has benefited from the feeling that Trudeau has overexposed himself in the past 18 months. Many Canadians are just fed up with seeing the Liberal leader around.

But Abacus Data’s latest public poll suggests Trudeau is no longer in freefall and the number of people who believe it’s time to change has stopped growing.

Rising Tory fortunes have inevitably meant voters are taking a closer look at O’Toole. He shows great elasticity to show voters that they have nothing to fear.

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The election could depend on one in five voters who say they could vote for the NDP or the Liberals. They are almost unanimous in preferring a Liberal victory to a Conservative victory. But many of them don’t like Trudeau and could be persuaded to vote for Jagmeet Singh, if O’Toole can reassure them that modern conservatives are not a party of armed white men proposing to pollute the air and the land. water in search of financial gain.

O’Toole risked his credibility again – in this case he had taken one gun stance in the leadership race, another in his election platform and has now endorsed a third policy.

But all prime ministers had to sail with the wind to get to their destination. He could still do it if he could convince enough skeptics that he would lead a government in Ottawa that was ethical and focused on the well-being of all Canadians.

[email protected]
Twitter.com/IvisonJ

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