Day 8: As week 2 of this election begins, the Council of Canadians continues to work to highlight key issues of concern — renewable energy, public health care, fair trade, and the right to water.

Renewable energy not fighter jets: Our latest media release states, “Canadian taxpayer dollars slated for fighter jets demonstrates Harper is not here for Canadian interests or the environment, says the Council of Canadians. ‘For the cost of 10 fighter jets, the Canadian government could power a million homes on green electricity,’ says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. …According to a recent Environics Research poll, over 70 per cent of Canadians agreed that money spent on wars and the military would be better spent on efforts that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of climate change.” To read the media release and a related blog by Andrea, go here.

Health care: Council of Canadians health care campaigner Adrienne Silnicki writes, “On April Fool’s Day 1984, the Canada Health Act (CHA) was adopted by the federal government. It dealt directly with the transfer of funding for health care from the federal government to the provinces and territories. …It is the responsibility of our federal government to enforce the provisions of the CHA which do not allow for user fees and double dipping. Yet our government, under the leadership of Harper and his Conservatives have been turning a blind eye. …On the 27th birthday of our Canada Health Act, while our federal government is in the midst of campaigning for a May 2nd election, let’s all unite to be defenders of the CHA. We need to pressure all candidates the enforce and expand the CHA. Access to universal health care is the best birthday gift any of us could ask for, and that’s no joke.” Adrienne’s blog can be read here.

Maude Barlow video: To see a 3-minute video of Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow commenting on the first week of the federal election, please go here or our website. In the 19 hours since it was posted, the video has been watched 146 times.

Letter to the editor: Chapter activist Gwyn Frayne had her letter published in the Comox Valley Echo. She writes, “The 65 new F-35 stealth fighter jets will cost $30 billion — more than the total federal spending on health care. …The raised cost for prisons when crime rates have been dropping is straight out of the American Republicans’ text book. Now, let’s look at the Harper Conservative pay-off to the corporations who are set to benefit. They will soon get a lowered tax rate of 15% — when those of us with fixed pensions pay a much higher rate of tax.” Gwyn’s letter can be read here.

The right to water: The Amnesty International Getting Back On the Rights Track report says, “Canada’s standing as an international human rights champion has dropped. In the days leading to the election all parties must make concrete commitments to help to restore its leadership role, says Amnesty International. As Canadians go to the polls they have a crucial opportunity to reflect on these fundamental issues.” Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, says, “In recent years there has been a decline in Canada’s international human rights leadership. There has been erosion of Canada’s past policies including a principled and non-partisan reputation in the Middle East. There was opposition to a declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. And action on economic, social and cultural rights including the right to water has faltered. …Canada must reclaim its leading role in human rights. …Canada must recognize the right to water and sanitation in international law.” More here.

Enbridge gateway pipeline: Bloomberg reports, “Liberal opposition leader Michael Ignatieff said his party would maintain a ban on oil shipments off the British Columbia coast, a potential obstacle to Enbridge’s proposed $5.5 billion Northern Gateway pipeline. Ignatieff said he has met with executives of Calgary-based Enbridge, which wants to link the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific coast. Chief Executive Officer Patrick Daniel told the Globe and Mail newspaper in an interview published yesterday he expected the Liberals to end the ban.”

Party funding: CBC reports, “Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is still committed to scrapping party subsidies (of $2 per vote they receive) but says it would be impossible unless he formed a majority government. …The Chrétien government created the per-vote direct subsidy in 2004, when it banned corporate donations to parties and limited contributions to ridings or candidates to $1,000 per year. …Harper tried to scrap the funds in 2008, a move that led to a revolt by all three opposition parties. …Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff (said), ‘This is Canada. We have a Canadian electoral system that limits the influence of big money in politics. He wants to get it out of the way and give us American-style attack politics.’ Ignatieff said the federal system is fair, ‘economical’, and creates a level playing field for all parties. NDP Leader Jack Layton told reporters that he prefers a mixed system of public contributions and direct subsidies… Layton (said) he doesn’t want ‘big money’ brought back in to the system.”

Keen backs May: The Globe and Mail reports, “Canada’s former nuclear watchdog is endorsing Green Party Leader Elizabeth May as a candidate for Saanich-Gulf Islands. Linda Keen, who was fired by the Conservatives as the head of Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in 2008, said Thursday she wasn’t seeking revenge against Gary Lunn, her former boss and Ms. May’s Conservative rival in the Vancouver Island riding. Mr. Lunn was the natural resources minister who ousted Ms. Keen after she refused to back the reopening of the Chalk River, Ont., nuclear reactor that produced crucial medical isotopes, because Atomic Energy of Canada had not performed safety upgrades.” The Victoria Times-Colonist adds, “(May) used the opportunity to link the nuclear issue to the crisis in Japan, where the Fukushima nuclear plant was badly damaged in an earthquake last month, and has leaked radiation to surrounding areas. ‘I think all Canadians can agree that there can be no short cuts or compromises on nuclear safety,’ said May…”

Today’s poll: The Globe and Mail reports, “The early days of Mr. Harper’s tour has made no secret of the fact that the party is hoping to win new seats in Ontario – particularly the suburban ridings of the Greater Toronto Area. The regional support numbers by Nanos Research appear to show those efforts are paying off. Support for the Conservatives in Ontario is higher now (47.2 per cent) than it was when Nanos Research polled Canadians on March 15, before the campaign began. At that time, Conservatives had 43.2 per cent support in Ontario. The Liberal support in the province is holding steady at about 32.7 per cent, while NDP support is on a downward trend, sitting at 15.8 per cent. The Greens are at 4.2 per cent.” And the Ottawa Citizen reports, “If Canadians find themselves being governed by a Liberal-NDP-Bloc Quebecois coalition following the May election, they want to see NDP leader Jack Layton become prime minister, results of an exclusive poll for Postmedia News and Global National released Friday suggest. Only 27 per cent of the poll’s respondents said they’d want Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff to be top dog, compared to 14 per cent who support Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe and 59 per cent who said Layton.”

Key ridings: CTV reports, “Stephen Harper’s Conservatives must target swing voters and vulnerable ridings in urban Ontario and British Columbia if they hope to secure an elusive majority, say pollsters and political scientists watching the campaign unfold. ‘They finished within five points of the winner in 15 ridings in 2008, most of them in Ontario and B.C., and these seats are the low-lying fruit,’ (Simon Fraser University professor Andrew Heard told in a recent email. …(University of Alberta professor Steve Patten) expects Edmonton-Strathcona will hold as an NDP riding. At the moment, the Liberals are intending to have a university student serve as Duncan’s competition and the local Tories are currently trying to distance themselves from a campaign volunteer who is under investigation by the RCMP. …Nelson Wiseman, an associate professor in the department of political science at the University of Toronto, said he also sees room for the Tories to grow in Newfoundland and Quebec, in addition to the opportunities in Ontario and B.C. …But when it comes down to it, Patten said the Tories must cast their attention upon the urban ridings of the Greater Toronto Area, Vancouver Island and B.C.’s Lower Mainland where they have more opportunities to pick up a greater number of seats.”

Where the leaders are today: CTV reports, “NDP Leader Jack Layton has the hustings to himself today, as his two main rivals take a day off after the first week of campaigning for the May 2 federal election. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is at home in Ottawa, while Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and his people prepare for the online roll-out of the party platform. Layton will be at a rally in Dartmouth, N.S., for his eighth straight day of electioneering.”

For daily election updates, go to To join the Council of Canadians,

Brent Patters, Political Director, Council of Canadians

brentprofile11-1 (1)

Brent Patterson

Brent Patterson is a political activist, writer and the executive director of Peace Brigades International-Canada. He lives in Ottawa on the traditional, unceded and unsurrendered territories of the Algonquin...