Day 31 -- SOUTH FRASER PERIMETER ROAD: The Vancouver Sun reports that a group of about 25 protesters (including Council of Canadians chapter activists) have set up a protest camp with tents on the path of the 40-kilometre, four-lane South Fraser Perimeter Road. The highway will pollute the environment, pave farmland, increase greenhouse gas emissions, scar the banks of the Fraser River, and damage Indigenous heritage sites. "They intend to block workers when they show up to resume clearing the area for construction after the Easter long weekend." The Delta Optimist reports, "Looking to fill the (Delta-Richmond East) seat held for almost 18 years by Conservative MP John Cummins, who's retiring from federal politics, are Liberal Alan Beesley, Conservative Kerry-Lynne Findlay, the NDP's Nic Slater, the Green's Duane Laird and independent John Shavluk. ...On the question of the South Fraser Perimeter Road, (NDP candidate) Slater questioned whether it was a land grab instead of a transportation project. He also noted there's no reason why an electric rail system isn't used." The South Delta Leader adds, "Laird said the Green Party would cut federal funding for the South Fraser Perimeter Road which is planned to connect Deltaport with other major highways in Metro Vancouver. 'We are going into a carbonless economy whether we like it or not, and building bigger roads that hold more containers coming from other places is not the way to move forward with our municipalities.'"
GREAT LAKES AS A TOP LOCAL ISSUE: The St. Catharines Standard reports that NDP candidate Mike Williams and Liberal candidate Andrew Gill in the St. Catharines riding both identify protecting the Great Lakes as their 'top local issue.' NDP candidate Williams says, "I get very nervous when I read about a private nuclear generator such as Bruce Power applying to ship antiquated radioactive steam generators to Sweden through the Welland Canal. Despite the assurances of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission that the level of radioactive contamination is very low, I cannot help but feel that an accident involving a shipment of this nature could pose a significant environmental and public health risk." Liberal candidate Gill notes, 'Protecting the Great Lakes by developing a Canadian freshwater strategy.'
GREAT LAKES FUNDING: Environmental Defence, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Equiterre and the Pembina Institute asked the major parties, "If elected, will your party invest $1.1 billion over 5 years, as requested by the United States and Great Lakes Commission, for Canada to start doing our fair share to protect and restore the Great Lakes?" The NDP, Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party said 'yes', the Liberals said 'no', and the Conservatives did not respond. The Council of Canadians has called for $1 billion from the existing funding in the Building Canada Fund and Green Infrastructure Fund, plus $3.375 billion in new funding over five years, to clean up polluted lakes and rivers, protect Canada's waterways from invasive species, and to clean-up the Great Lakes.
CHAPTER ELECTION BLOG: Vancouver chapter activist Norm Hill writes in his election blog, "With just over a week until the federal election (on May 2), it's anybody's guess what the outcome will be. Another Harper minority government? A Harper majority (gasp)? A Liberal / NDP minority government? One thing that's certain though: the outcome of the election will depend on how each and every one of us votes (or doesn't vote). This election, let's vote for the Canada we want." To read the rest of his blog, go here.
CHAPTER LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Peterborough-Kawarathas chapter activist Raymond Hogue writes in a letter to the editor in the Toronto Star, "Now is the time for Canadians to consider what the effects of a Stephen Harper majority might be. Mr. Harper has been a consistent follower of the policies laid down by the Republican government of George W. Bush. Whether on climate change or foreign policy, he has backed it to the hilt. The U.S. now has a government frozen between two poles. Their debt is in the trillions of dollars and their credit rating is under warning. The percentage of its population that is in jail exceeds that of Russia. In his drive to pull us forever closer to the U.S., Stephen Harper has adopted a tactic of smear and fear advertising on which he has spent millions of dollars. Then he tries to convince us that an unpopular election was caused by the opposition parties. Any individuals or organizations that interfere with his overall plans are disposed of by firing or parachuting in a wrecking crew to their board. Examples are the well-liked Veterans ombudsman, the CBC and the RCMP. Do we really need huge jails when crime is decreasing? Do we really need single engine fighter jets when patrol aircraft and helicopters would fit our requirement? For the sake of our country and our democracy, we must make it a not."
THE SOUTH ASIAN VOTE: Toronto Star columnist Haroon Siddiqui writes, "It's misleading to say that the Conservatives are wooing the 1.3 million-strong South Asian community. They are wooing only small segments of it, the same way they are soliciting votes from selected slices of the Canadian population. 'South Asian', a Statistics Canada designation, refers to Canadians from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and from the Indian diaspora in Africa, the Caribbean, the Far East and Fiji. Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney, minister in-charge of Conservative re-election, are not courting the 133,000 Pakistani Canadians, except one slice of that demographic. They are not after the 105,000-strong Sri Lankan Canadians -- neither Tamils nor Sinhalese. They are not after the 33,000 Bangladeshi Canadians. They are not after the sizeable but disparate diaspora Indians, except for one segment. They are really after the 500,000 Indo-Canadians. Sorry, even that's not accurate. They are after two of three main religious groups, Sikhs and Hindus, but not Muslims. ...Having cast his lot with Jewish Canadians, Harper ignored the 750,000 Muslims who encompass Arabs, South Asians, West Asians (Afghans, Iranians) and others. To him, being pro-Jewish and pro-Israeli meant being anti-Arab and anti-Muslim." His opinion is here.
TODAY'S POLL: Reuters reports, "The ruling Conservative Party widened its lead heading into the May 2 election, with the trailing Liberals and New Democrats in a statistical tie, according to a poll released on Monday. The Nanos Research tracking poll of results for three days of surveys put support for the Conservatives at 39.2 percent, up from 38.6 percent in a Nanos poll released on Sunday. Support for the Liberals slid slightly to 25.6 from 25.9 percent in Sunday's poll. The left-leaning New Democrats, who have seen their support jump since the mid-election leadership debates, have 23.6 percent of decided voters behind them from 23.2 in Sunday's survey."
WILL IT COME DOWN TO ONTARIO? The Globe and Mail reports, "Nik Nanos says, 'Improved NDP fortunes across Canada have not materialized in gains within battleground Ontario over the holiday weekend.' ...Mr. Nanos said Ontarians are 'likely to be concerned about the economy' and Mr. Harper's 'scaremongering about the New Democrats spending money in a province that has been battered by the recession' is weighing on the NDP in the province. 'The thing is when we look across the country Ontario is the province that is the best candidate for the Conservatives to pick up their seats,' Mr. Nanos said. There are 106 seats on the table... 'If there is a majority government for the Conservatives it will be delivered in the province of Ontario.'"
Brent Patterson, Political Director, Council of Canadians