1. Counting Canadians proves controversial. Stephen Harper's Conservatives thought scrapping the compulsory long-form census was a sound move, never anticipating the reaction and sustained criticism by Canadians to their decision.
"On that long census ... when we put that through cabinet ages ago that to me was a good news story," one senior Conservative official told The Globe and Mail. The vociferous reaction that resulted is now considered an "irritant" in the senior Tory ranks.
"They don't bother us. It's just that they are annoying," the official says. "I find it very hard to believe that Canadians are going to trek to the polls and vote against us because we gave them census freedom."
There was even some expectation the summer would not entirely go their way. The senior Tory said some caucus members had jokingly predicted that halfway through Liberal Leader Michael Ignateiff's summer bus tour, EKOS pollster Frank Graves (who was accused of being a Liberal by former Harper director of communications Kory Teneycke) would come out with a poll showing the Conservatives and Liberals in a tie.
They were right; that's exactly what happened. The most recent EKOS poll showed the Conservatives taking a 10-point hit over just several weeks, which Mr. Graves attributed to, in part, to the census kerfuffle.
But Tony Clement, who has been the government's most ardent defender of the decision, is digging in his heels. The Industry Minister told the CBC's Rosemary Barton in a weekend radio interview that the media coverage has been very "one-sided."
He said the government remains firm and will not change its decision any more than it already has. Last week, in the face of a legal challenge by francophone groups, the Industry Minister made one tweak, adding language questions to the still-mandatory short-form census.
While Mr. Clement says he feels " alone" in this battle, there are some pundits helping him out. Conservative talk-radio host Dave Rutherford has mocked reporters who criticized the decision. And Monday, B.C. commentator Rafe Mair weighed in, saying he's with the Harper government on the census.
"Before I answer a lot of personal questions, under penalty of prison if I don't, just tell me, question by question, why you want this information," Mr. Mair writes. "I base this request on the notion that my privacy cannot be invaded unless good reason is shown. This 'good reason' is not satisfied by saying that we have 'good reasons'."
He says the bottom line in this ruckus is trusting government with personal information: "If I'm asked, 'Do you not trust your government?' my answer is a plain, unequivocal NO. Why the hell should I?"
2. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Taking a page from Michael Ignatieff's playbook, Manitoba Conservative MP Candace Hoeppner is embarking on her own summer tour of sorts - to promote her effort to scrap the long-gun registry.
Ms. Hoeppner has had some initial success with her private members' bill to get rid of the costly program. It passed second reading with the help of eight Liberal MPs and 12 New Democrats.
But there's a hiccup. On Sept. 22, when the House returns after its summer break, MPs are to vote on a motion that could kill her bill. It comes from the Public Safety committee and calls for the House not to proceed with her bill. If passed, her bill dies; if not, her bill moves forward and has a chance to pass into law.
So, Ms. Hoeppner is working hard. Her summer tour takes her into the ridings of some of the Liberals who initially supported her bill.
Mr. Ignatieff had at first given his MPs free rein to vote their conscience on the Tory bill, which allowed it to pass second reading. Faced with the prospect of helping get rid of the registry, which the Chrétien government had fought so hard for, Mr. Ignatieff changed his mind.
The Liberals have whipped the vote, ordering all MPs to oppose the bill on third reading. But while Liberals who don't vote with their caucus will face penalties, it's still unclear how the NDP will respond.
In an effort to shame the opposition into supporting her effort, Ms. Hoeppner has also launched a website for her tour. It includes a ticker at the top - counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the vote - and links to contact the Liberals and New Democrats who initially supported the move.