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ELECTION 2011: 5 seats short of a majority?

Day 24 (two weeks to election day)

SEAT PROJECTION: The Globe and Mail reports, “With only two weeks left to go in the campaign, the likelihood that Stephen Harper will win a majority government has diminished. But though both Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals and Jack Layton’s Democrats are on the upswing, there might not be enough time left to scuttle the Conservatives’ chances of a stronger minority mandate. If the election were held today, the Conservatives would take 150 seats, according to ThreeHundredEight.com’s updated seat and vote projections for The Globe and Mail. That is still five shy of a majority and three fewer seats than were projected to go Tory one week ago.” They are also projecting 77 Liberal seats, 47 for the Bloc, and 34 for the NDP. At dissolution, the seats were: 143 Conservatives, 77 Liberals, 47 Bloc, 36 NDP.

RABBLE TV: “Tune in to rabbleTV on April 18 at 4:30 p.m. ET to watch special election coverage — for the rest of us — from rabble.ca. Host Trish Hennessy (CCPA researcher and author of the Hennessy Index) will be joined by guests including CAW economist Jim Stanford, Greg Elmer (Director, Infoscape Research Lab; Bell Globemedia Research Chair) and Atkinson Foundation’s Olivia Nuamah to respond to the leaders’ debates, the election campaign so far and will tackle the issue of strategic voting.”

MESSAGING: The Globe and Mail reports, “As the federal election enters the final sprint, Michael Ignatieff and Stephen Harper have shifted and tightened their campaigns into sharply conflicting focuses. The Liberal Leader is concentrating on a broad, national message to preserve public health care, while the Conservative Leader invokes the spectre of a weak Liberal government that would threaten both the economy and national unity.”

HEALTH CARE: CBC reports, “The Liberals, NDP and Conservatives have already said they would maintain the annual six-per-cent increase in health funding after the current health accord with the provinces expires in 2014. But some provincial politicians have been pushing the leaders for more details on how they will handle health-care funding after the existing 10-year accord expires. Michael Ignatieff says a Liberal government would convene a first ministers meeting on the future of health care within 60 days of taking office. …(But Stephen Harper says) ‘The Liberal party has a shameful record of deep cuts in health care.'”

THE ARCTIC: The Toronto Star reports, “(Ignatieff says) a government that really cares about the North would also have a better plan to tackle climate change on the frontline of the phenomenon. The Liberals are also opposed to drilling in the Arctic Sea — where untold reserves of oil and natural gas are waiting to be tapped — while the Tory leader is open to drilling, so long as the rules set by the National Energy Board are respected.”

TAR SANDS: The Toronto Star has reported, “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…” And CTV has reported, “Jack Layton wants to eliminate $2 billion in subsidies for the oilsands, and put the money toward clean energy. The idea has been endorsed by federal Finance Department officials, the Organization for Economic Development and Co-operation, and the G20, but has been rejected repeatedly by the Harper government.”

ENBRIDGE PIPELINE: Bloomberg has reported, “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.”

PERIMETER SECURITY: Canadian Press reported last week that, “(Documents show that) months before the Conservative government dismissed talk of a perimeter security accord with the United States as hearsay, senior officials were quietly discussing a draft of the border agreement. …‘It is not healthy for the democratic process for this to be happening behind closed doors, in secrecy,’ said Maude Barlow, national chairwoman of the Council of Canadians.” To read about where the Harper Conservatives and all parties stand on the critical issue of a perimeter security deal with the United States, please go to http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=7393.

CETA: Le Devoir reported that the Council of Canadians believes that the CETA negotiations that took place last week were a further “contempt of Parliament”. The article quotes Maude Barlow saying, “Prime Minister Harper must explain to Canadians how he justifies these negotiations during this election…”

THE RIGHT TO WATER: The Toronto Star has reported, “(Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo says) none of the party platforms adequately address the affirmation of treaties, settling land claims or the basics of a lack of clean water, housing or safe reserve communities. ‘There are over 60 ridings where aboriginal people participate in the vote and that could make the difference in aspects of this campaign,’ he said. ‘Canada is well regarded as a champion of human rights around the world. The federal parties ignore these problems at their peril, Atleo said. ‘We deploy clean drinking water to Africa and build homes and schools in South America. Yet those very same things are needed right here.’”

BARLOW ELECTION VIDEOS: Maude Barlow’s third election video-commentary is now available. The two-minute video can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukqw2derkRE, so far it has 281 views. Her first week of the election commentary (which has had 1285 views) can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueixe7SIF70; her second week commentary (with 596 views) is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hXiyT-PXsM. Check them out and be sure to forward them.

WILSON ON THE ELECTION: 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 at http://www.rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/fwilson/2011/04/election-choice-working-families.

11 DEBATES: Council of Canadians chapters are involved in 11 all-candidates debates. Four take place today – Medicine Hat, South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale (also April 19), Brockville (collected questions for a Chamber of Commerce debate), and Charlottetown (questions about fracking to be asked at a debate today). Then there’s Calgary Centre-North (April 19), Prince Albert (April 20), Williams Lake (April 20), and Red Deer (April 28) – and the ones that took place in Vancouver Island North (April 13) and Kamloops (April 15). 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!

SOUTHERN INTERIOR: The Boundary Sentinel reports, “Conservatives are attempting to bring forth Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a free trade agreement with Europe similar to the North American Free Trade Agreement. (Conservative candidate Stephen) Hill supports a more globalized approach to free trade. ‘I can go on and talk about the advantages of free trade until the cows come home. It’s very good for Canada and if you think otherwise then your choice is Alex – but you are going to continue to languish, you’re going to continue to lose schools, you’re going to continue to lose hospitals, and we’re going to go backwards,’ Hill stated. (NDP MP Alex) Atamanenko is against CETA and wants desperately to re-work NAFTA so that Canada isn’t being hurt as a result of it. He clearly laid out why to vote for him by asking, ‘Do we want a sovereign nation that has control of its destiny, control over its food supply, and control over its manufacturing sector; or do we want a nation that continues to say, ‘well the answer is more trade agreements, more trade agreements.’ And maybe that’s what this election is about – the future of our country.'”

TODAY’S POLL: The Toronto Star reports, “The New Democrats begin the fourth week of the campaign tied with the Liberals for second place, but their support could collapse by the time voters go to the polls, according to a new survey. An Angus Reid poll shows one quarter of Canadians say they would vote for the New Democrats, an increase of four percentage points since early this month. That puts the party in a tie for second place with the Liberals, who are also at 25 per cent after seeing their support drop by two percentage points over the same period. The Conservatives remain in first place with 36 per cent of the support, down by two percentage points but still a double-digit lead. Support for the Bloc Québécois came in at 9 per cent nationally and the Green Party was picked by 5 per cent of survey respondents.”