Thursday, August 26, 2010

Long-gun math

With the resignation of Maurizio Bevilacqua expected soon (it's all but official), and the vote on Bill C-391 - a "private" member's bill, supposedly, to end the long-gun registry - to come with the start of the new legislative session, I thought it best to see what the parliamentary math will come out to.

Here's how it broke down during second reading: all 143 Conservatives voted for Bill C-391; 66 Liberals voted against, 8 voted for, 2 were absent, 1 is the Speaker (Milliken, of course); all 47 Bloquistes at the time voted against; 24 Dippers voted for, while 12 voted against; and 1 independent voted for, leaving it 164-137 in favour of abolishing the registry.

The numbers as it sits right now are 143 eligible Cons (excluding Inky Mark, who is retiring), 75 eligible Liberals (excluding Milliken and Bevilacqua), 48 Bloquistes, 37 Dippers and 2 independents.

It's a given that all Conservatives will vote for the bill, so we get 143 "Yeas" at the start.

Michael Ignatieff has made some pretty big outreaches to the Liberals who voted for the bill, getting on board even Larry Bagnell, who up until recently was trending to vote for the bill. With Michael whipping the vote, and a learning experience over the abortion bill from before, I think this will be the biggest turnout of the Liberal caucus ever.

All Bloquistes will vote "Nay," so that brings it 144-123.

We know from second reading that 24 Dippers will vote "Nay," but lets bump that up to 25, since they didn't have Fin Donnelly from New Westminster-Coquitlam before, who has come out in support of the long-gun registry. That leaves us 144-148.

Add on the two independents - Andre Arthur and Helena Guergis, who both voted "Yea" last time - and its 146-148.

That means we have 12 Dippers who will decide the fate of the long-gun registry - our "possibles." This is what the blogs and protests over Jack Layton's refusal to whip the vote are all over. So, what have they been saying, and how are they leaning?

Malcolm Allen (Welland, ON) says he wants to listen to his constituents, but given that Welland itself is a fairly urban riding, I'll call him an "undecided."

Charlie Angus (Timmins--James Bay, ON) seems pretty adamant on repealing it, so he's a "Yea."

Niki Ashton (Churchill, MN) had Hoeppner launch her non-launch in her riding, but I can't find much else about her opinion on it, but given her riding itself, I would label her a "leaning Yea."

Dennis Bevington (NWT) is not going to budge on repealing it, so he's a "Yea."

Nathan Cullen (Skeena--Bulkley Valley, BC) is also not going to budge on iota, so another "Yea."

Claude Gravelle (Nickel Belt, ON) I honestly have no idea about, but will label as "unknown" for now.

Carol Hughes (Algoma--Manitoulin--Kapuskasing, ON) said she will vote against the bill, making her a "Nay" (our first one!).

Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay--Superior North, ON) and John Rafferty (Thunder Bay--Rainy River) will both vote "Yea."

Jim Maloway (Elmwood--Transcona, MN) said that he's "open to discussing changes with all parties" if they presented an option, but would otherwise vote to scrap it. I'll put him as "leaning Yea."

Peter Stoffer (Sackville--Eastern Shore, NS) says he'll vote to "end it once and for all," so he's obviously a "Yea."

Glenn Thibeault (Sudbury, ON) is another one I'm unsure about, but his riding, a mix of urban and rural attitudes that only Northern Ontario can provide, could put him either way, so he's "unknown" for now.

So, calculating all the numbers, we get:

A close call, with advantage to the "Yeas." The 5 undecided, unknowns, and "leanings" I think I've identified (please feel free to make a case against any of them), could make or break it. But with the Yeas needing only 2 other votes, it's not looking good for us who are on the right side of history.

However, if you're feeling up to it, I'd start lobbying those five - Glenn Thibeault, Jim Maloway, Malcolm Allen, Niki Ashton, and Claude Gravelle - if you want to change the tables. The others I wouldn't waste my time on.

** Author's note

Thanks to Alice of Pundit's Guide and doconnor for pointing out a couple of mistakes on my part. They're now corrected - though unfortunately it puts the good guys down one more seat!


  1. I think you missed the fact that Judy Wasylycia-Leis (NDP, Winnipeg Centre) who voted no, resigned and her seat is still vacant.

  2. Volkov, I think you've forgotten that Winnipeg North is now vacant. So, it's 36 NDP members + 1 vacant seat. Judy WL was one of the 24 you're counting, but on the other hand, Dawn Black's seat was vacant at the time, and she has since been replaced by Fin Donnelly.

    Both Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette and Vaughan will be vacant by the time of the vote two-thirds of the way through September, but those two votes cancel each other out.

  3. Thanks doconnor for noting it, but Judy's seat isn't counted - 36 NDP MPs are on my little chart, which is what is the actual current count.

  4. Sorry, looks like doconnor and I cross-posted.

  5. The Speaker votes to continue debate as long as possible and then votes to maintain the status quo on final passage (i.e. votes against in a case such as this), so I think it will take 154 votes to pass the bill.

  6. PG & doconner,

    Thanks both for pointing out the mistake - I realize now where I got confused. I'll have to make a quick change! I'll also have to factor in Inky Mark's retirement - thanks to you both!


    It's very possible, and I hope it does. But it all depends how many people even show up - the NDP members who voted "yea" during the second reading could very well go absent, or the Liberal members as well.