Day 22 — Promises beyond two years: The Globe and Mail reports, “In his strongest push yet to make health care an issue during the election campaign, (Ontario Liberal premier Dalton) McGuinty said federal leaders need to look beyond the two-year funding commitment they have made. …Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has said that, if elected, he would index health care to 6 per cent beyond the duration of the existing accord. Conservative Leader Stephen Harper later matched that pledge. …Transfer payments for health care are crucial because about 20 cents of every dollar the provinces spend on health care comes from Ottawa. Under the existing 10-year, Canada Health Transfer Program reached in 2004, the provinces are slated to receive annual increases of 6 per cent until the accord expires. Mr. McGuinty said it is possible for Ottawa to strike another 10-year accord with the provinces and territories because it was done before under the previous Liberal government.”
The election choice: Council of Canadians Board member Fred Wilson writes on rabble.ca, “The Conservative plan to beggar thy neighbour by passing out tax credits to a few while cutting services to many will increase inequality and diminish the quality of life for millions. Millions understand this already, almost instinctively. The outcome will be determined by how millions of other mostly working class voters perceive their self-interest — as isolated individuals and families, or as part of healthy, caring communities. We have heard the debates and seen the platforms. Now is time to define the choice.” His full commentary is here.
No more plans for Libya, for now: The Globe and Mail reports, “The Canadian government will make no further commitments in Libya until the federal election is over and a new Parliament has been summoned, Stephen Harper said Friday.” On Wednesday, the Montreal Gazette reported, “Brig.-Gen. Richard Blanchette said that Canadian CF-18 fighters have been active in Libyan skies, accounting for 98 of the 832 fighter missions flown by NATO jets since the start of combat operations.”
TMX take-over: An all-party panel of Ontario MPPs is expected on Tuesday to recommend approval of the London Stock Exchange’s takeover of the Toronto Stock Exchange.” Bloomberg reported on April 1, “Prime Minister Stephen Harper said today the Canadian government will wait for provincial authorities to complete reviews of London Stock Exchange Group Plc’s proposed purchase of TMX Group Inc. before it issues a decision. …Industry Minister Tony Clement said March 23 (before the government fell that) the two companies have yet to formally apply for a review of the deal, which can take up to 75 days to complete.”
Arctic gateway and corridor? The Vancouver Sun reports, “Arctic climate change is one of the most crucial foreign and environmental policy issues facing Canada, but it has largely been ignored by all parties in the current federal election, says former (Liberal) foreign minister Lloyd Axworthy… ‘As Canadians once again go to the polls to choose a new Parliament, the future of the Arctic needs to be part of the election debate.’ …With the implications of climate change on the Arctic ecosystem, for indigenous and northern communities or for Canada’s sovereignty, the Arctic will be one of Canada’s most important foreign policy priorities in the 21st century.’ …Axworthy said…questions that need to be debated in the federal election (include) multilateral co-operation, the role of aboriginal peoples, and rules to ensure that economic development, transportation and trade do not put the Arctic region at risk. Axworthy also called on the next federal government to designate the Arctic region as ‘a national gateway and corridor’.”
Tar sands: The Toronto Star reports, “With rising oil prices and the possibility of a Tory majority, the future is looking brighter for northern Alberta’s massive oil sands development. Observers say Conservative Party gains in the May 2 federal election would translate into more federal support for the sector…”
700 votes in Guelph: The Toronto Star reports, “The Conservative Party is facing an allegation of election tampering after trying to have 700 votes cast by students earlier this week at the University of Guelph declared null and void. The Tories say that the advance voting station — an initiative specifically designed to increase young voters’ participation in this campaign — was not authorized by Elections Canada and was littered with opposition party campaign material. The Liberals say officials with Guelph Conservative candidate Marty Burke illegally filmed voters and then tried to snatch away the ballot box, a great big election no-no. …Elections Canada said in a statement that the on-campus polling station, where normally strict voting rules are more relaxed, was the work of a ‘well-intentioned returning officer’ who organized a sanctioned but not pre-authorized vote. They won’t be holding anymore advanced balloting at the university in the future, but all of the votes cast will be considered valid.”
Vote mobs: CTV reports, “University students across the country are using impromptu ‘vote mobs’ to encourage more young voters to cast a ballot in the federal election. …One of the organizers, Yvonne Su, described a vote mob as ‘a creative platform for young people, or just for people in general, to get a message across.’ Videos of the mob are uploaded to social networking websites like Facebook and YouTube. The videos are usually set to music, and show crowds of students walking or running through campus, interspersed with messages encouraging young people to vote. Some have been viewed more than 20,000 times. The idea evolved from flash mobs, in which groups use social media to plan large public gatherings, often with choreographed dancing.”
Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo: The Kamloops Daily News reports, “About 70 people gave up their evening — including a Canucks game and the Kamloops Wine Festival — (last night) to participate in a Council of Canadians forum, the first city election forum of the campaign. Questions covered a full range of concerns, everything from Canada’s international reputation to a drug patent bill to the war in Afghanistan and health-care reform. …Right off the mark (Tory candidate and incumbent MP Cathy McLeod) was called to justify Canada’s global reputation over environmental policies, specifically on mining. ‘We need to have a strong environmental assessment act and we need to listen to the results,’ she said, citing rejection of the Prosperity Project. ‘Mining is absolutely important to this country, but we also need that balance.’ New Democrat Michael Crawford shot back, ‘It doesn’t matter if you have that if you can take freshwater lakes and turn them into tailing ponds.'” The Kamloops-Thomspon-Cariboo is located close to the Cariboo-Prince George riding and Fish Lake.
Cariboo-Prince George debate: The Williams Lake Tribune reports, “(An all-candidates) meeting, organized by the Council of Canadians, takes place Wednesday, April 20 at 7 p.m. in the great room of the Arts Centre next to city hall. So far, candidates Dick Harris (Conservative), Jon Van Barneveld (NDP), Heidi Redl (Green), and John Ronan (Independent) are confirmed to attend. People from the audience will be able to ask the candidates questions.” This riding includes Fish Lake/ Teztan Biny. Conservative MP Dick Harris has been a vocal supporter of the Prosperity Mine which would have destroyed the freshwater lake through a Schedule 2 exemption.
Medicine Hat debate: The Medicine Hat News reports, “The second of a series of candidates’ forums will take place in Medicine Hat on (April 18) but once again, Conservative candidate LaVar Payne will not be in attendance. Payne’s campaign manager Dan Hein confirmed to the News that Payne will not attend the forum on environmental and social issues set to take place at 7 p.m. at the Medicine Hat Public Library.
The forum is being hosted by a group of ‘concerned citizens’ many of whom are members of various local and national organizations such as Grasslands Naturalists, Unisphere, CUSO (Canadian University Service Overseas), and the Council of Canadians. …NDP candidate Dennis Perrier, Liberal candidate Norm Boucher, and Green Party candidate Graham Murray have all indicated they will be at Monday’s forum.”
11 debates: Council of Canadians chapters are involved in 11 all-candidates debates. They include Medicine Hat (April 18), Brockville (collecting questions for a debate on April 18), Calgary Centre-North (April 19), South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale (April 18-19), Prince Albert (April 20), Cariboo-Prince George (April 20), and Red Deer (April 28) — and the ones that took place in Vancouver Island North (April 13) and Kamloops (April 15). The Charlottetown chapter may be at an all-candidates debate on the environment on April 18 to pose questions about fracking. The Council of Canadians is offering $250 to chapters to help cover the costs of organizing all-candidates debates. Please be sure to let us know if you are organizing or involved in an all-candidates debate. And take pictures and let us know how it went!
Burnaby-New Westminster: The Royal City Record reports, “Former member of Parliament Paul Forseth is hoping to return to Ottawa, but he’ll have to unseat three-term NDP MP Peter Julian to do so. Forseth, who served in the House of Commons from 1997 to 2006, is the Conservative candidate in Burnaby-New Westminster. Forseth was elected MP for New Westminster-Coquitlam-Burnaby in 1993 (defeating incumbent NDP MP Dawn Black) and 1997 as a Reform Party candidate, in 2000 as a Canadian Alliance candidate and in 2004 as a Conservative Party candidate. Black topped Forseth in the 2006 federal election. Julian has represented Burnaby-New Westminster since June 2004. He was re-elected in 2006 and 2008. Other candidates vying in the riding are Liberal Garth Evans and the Green party’s Carrie McLaren.”
South Shore-St. Margaret’s: The Halifax Chronicle-Herald reports, “Gerald Keddy won in 2008 by 932 votes over Gordon Earle of the NDP. Earle is flying the orange flag again this time, and a little extra intrigue has been added with former South Shore MP Derek Wells running for the Liberals.”
Simcoe-Grey: CBC reports, “Independent candidate Helena Guergis lashed out at Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and his office Friday over her treatment when she was kicked out of the Conservative caucus over sensational — but ultimately unsubstantiated — allegations. Guergis took aim at Harper after a Friday news conference in Collingwood, Ont., saying he “tossed me under a bus.” She said he never told her what the allegations against her were and didn’t give her an opportunity to defend herself.” The Canadian Press notes, “Voters in Simcoe-Grey, a traditionally Conservative riding at the heart of Ontario’s cottage country, seem to be rallying behind the embattled MP, now cleared of the allegations that got her ejected from the party.”
If not the party leaders: The Toronto Sun reports, “A Harris/Decima poll asked 1,002 Canadians which Canadian, outside of those who are actually campaigning for the gig, would make the best prime minister. (Comedian Rick) Mercer got the most votes (22%), followed by TD Bank CEO Ed Clark (16%), Hockey host Don Cherry (11%) and hockey star Sidney Crosby (10%). The rest was a mixed bag that included a 1% contingent for Ontario-born pop superstar Justin Bieber, who is technically not old enough to run the country anyway.”
The debate annoyed: The Toronto Star reports, “Watching Canada’s political leaders debate on TV this week was an overwhelmingly annoying experience for viewers, according to a new Angus Reid poll conducted for the Star. Annoyance was overwhelmingly the response: whether it was annoyance at individual leaders (especially Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe), direct pitches for votes from any of the leaders, or simply bouts of bickering among the politicians. …Interest and happiness, on the other hand, was highest when the politicians talked about specific policies. And, perhaps notably, happiness was highest among the four clips when Harper said in his closing remarks: ‘I hope Canadians do elect a majority government’.”
Today’s poll: The Vancouver Sun reports, “On the eve of the English debate, Ekos Research reported the gap between Harper’s Conservatives and Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals had closed to five per cent, with Harper garnering the support of 33.8 per cent of respondents compared to 28.8 per cent for Ignatieff. The polling period also corresponds with the revelation of a potentially damaging auditor general’s report suggesting the Conservative government may have misled Parliament to get approval for its G8 Legacy Fund, which financed a variety of projects in Industry Minister Tony Clement’s riding. Coming out of the debate, however, that margin has grown to 7.5 percentage points. The Conservatives nudged up to 35.3 per cent while the Liberals dropped a point to 27.8 per cent. Jack Layton’s New Democrats lost a bit of support following the debates as well, dropping to 18 per cent from 19.1 per cent, as did the Bloc Quebecois, which dropped to 7.1 per cent from 7.8 per cent. Although Green party leader Elizabeth May was excluded from the leaders debate, her party crept up in support to 9.6 per cent from 9.0 per cent on the eve of the debate.”
Brent Patterson, Political Director, Council of Canadians