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ELECTION 2011: Conservatives, Liberals fail on the right to water

Day 26

THE RIGHT TO WATER: On July 28, 2010, the right to water and sanitation was recognized by the United Nations General Assembly, and on October 1, 2010 the UN Human Rights Council affirmed that the right to water and sanitation is contained in existing human rights treaties and is therefore legally binding and equal to all other human rights.

CONSERVATIVES OPPOSE THE RTW: It is no surprise that the Conservatives oppose the right to water. They have consistently fought against it at the UN. And even after the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council resolutions, the right to water was conspicuously absent in the Harper government’s World Water Day message, http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=7124. An Environics Research poll commissioned by the Council of Canadians indicated that 73 per cent of Canadians want the Harper government to recognize the human right to clean and safe water and sanitation.

IGNATIEFF FAILS TO RECOGNIZE THE RTW: Now, the Vancouver Sun reports, “While the Liberal leader did not directly address a question about whether Canada should support a United Nations effort to declare access to water a basic human right, he acknowledged that Canada has some international responsibilities.” This is unacceptable. More at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=7556.

THE RTW IN WELLINGTON-HALTON HILLS: The Guelph Mercury reports, “A voter asked the candidates (at a Wellington-Halton Hills all-candidates meeting on Monday in Fergus, Ontario) if they would have water enshrined as a human right. …(Liberal candidate Barry) Peters said the Liberals are committed to the creation of the National Fresh Water Act, but not to making water a human right. (Conservative candidate and MP Michael) Chong said he was unsure what implications such a right would have on municipal water systems, and could not support it for that reason. He said he is not in favour of bulk water exports, and favours the consolidation of legislation under a single law that would protect Canada’s water resources. Only (Green Party candidate Brent) Bouteiller said he would do so, saying he was ‘completely against water taking’ operations and believes that all water-taking permits should be reviewed. Nestlé Waters Canada has a major water bottling operation in the riding.” The NDP candidate was not present at the debate.

HEALTH CARE QUESTION: Council of Canadians health care campaigner Adrienne Silnicki submitted a question on the continuing care crisis in Canada to an all-candidates discussion on the CBC Radio program White Coat, Black Art. Listen at http://www.cbc.ca/whitecoat/2011/04/15/election-show/ or http://www.cbc.ca/whitecoat/blog/2011/04/15/bonus—extended-political-panel/.

VOTE MOB: CTV has reported, “University students across the country are using impromptu ‘vote mobs’ to encourage more young voters to cast a ballot in the federal election. …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.” Yesterday, Council of Canadians campaigns administrative assistant (and university student) Melissa Dick participated in one at Carleton University in Ottawa. To see that video, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drsHSXOyfsU.

CHAPTER ORGANIZED DEBATES: Council of Canadians chapters are involved in all-candidates debates across the country. They include two in Prince Albert and Williams Lake (today, April 20) and Red Deer (April 28). Debates took place in Medicine Hat, Brockville, South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale (on April 18), Calgary Centre-North, South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale, Peterborough (April 19), Vancouver Island North/ Comox Valley (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!

PETERBOROUGH DEBATE: More on the Peterborough-Kawarthas chapter and Peterborough Health Coalition all-candidates debate from the Peterborough Examiner at http://www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3085707.

VIDEO OF CALGARY-NORTH DEBATE: To watch the Calgary chapter and Friends of Medicare organized all-candidates debate, go to http://calgary.openfile.ca/calgary/file/2011/04/livestream-tonight-centre-north-forum.

TORY NO SHOW AT AMC DEBATE: The Drum reports, “The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs held an All Candidates forum at the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre last evening (April 18) to encourage more First Nation voters to visit the polls on May 2. All the political parties that the AMC invited attended with the exception of the Conservatives.”

INSTRUCTED NOT TO ATTEND DEBATE: CBC reports, “A teacher who organized an all-candidates debate for two Toronto-area ridings says the Conservative Party’s national campaign headquarters told its local candidates not to show up. James Blair said he spoke to the campaign manager for Corneliu Chisu, the Conservative candidate for Pickering-Scarborough East, and was told officials in the national campaign war room instructed Chisu not to attend. Chisu and a neighbouring Conservative candidate, Chris Alexander, did not attend the event at Dunbarton High School in Pickering on Monday. …In an email, Conservative spokesman Chisholm Pothier said Blair is incorrect, and that Tory war room staff did not stop Chisu from participating.”

COMOX VALLEY NO SHOW: Last week, Comox Valley chapter activist Gwyn Frayne reports, “At our (Vancouver Island North) all-candidates’ meeting (on April 13) we had a standing-room-only crowd in our College theatre. The NDP, Green and Liberal candidates all came and we had an empty chair with the incumbent Conservative MP’s name. Right after the meeting two of our members went to the Conservative party office to ask where the MP was. They were told that their policy is NOT to attend any meeting sponsored by the Council of Canadians! We’ll have some letters to the editors about that…” Two of those letters are at http://www.canada.com/students+unhappy+about+Duncan+absence/4644173/story.html and http://www.canada.com/Thanks+election+forum+help/4643141/story.html.

MORE NO SHOWS: According to the Globe and Mail, Conservative candidates refusing to participate in all-candidates debates include Deepak Obhrai (Calgary East), Diane Ablonczy (Calgary-Nose Hill), Julian Fantino (Vaughn), Bryan Hayes (Sault Ste. Marie), Ed Holder (London West), and Damian Konstantinakos (Ottawa Centre).

OTTAWA-CENTRE ENVIRONMENT DEBATE: The debate takes place tonight (Wednesday April 20) at 7:30 pm at the Centretown United Church. The themes covered will be: the green economy, climate change and water. The questions will be asked by four Ottawa-based groups: Ecology Ottawa, Council of Canadians (water campaigner Emma Lui), Citizens for Public Justice and the Polaris Institute. Some time will be reserved for questions from the audience at the end. Will Conservative candidate Damian Konstantinakos show?

BARLOW ELECTION VIDEOS: A new Maude Barlow election commentary video will be made in Winnipeg on Saturday morning. Her third election video-commentary can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukqw2derkRE. In this video she says, in part, that, “We have to deny Harper his majority. This is our job.” Her first week of the election commentary can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueixe7SIF70; her second week commentary is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hXiyT-PXsM. Check them out and be sure to forward them.

WATER IN SAINT JOHN: The Telegraph-Journal reports, “Sparks flew (at an all-candidates debate sponsored by the Telegraph-Journal and Rogers TV) Monday evening as the five candidates running in the federal riding of Saint John debated such environmental issues as the Point Lepreau nuclear plant and a safe supply of clean drinking water for the city. …On the water issue, the candidates tended to gang up against Rodney Weston, the Conservative who won the last election in Saint John. Weston’s opponents claimed he had not done enough to ease the city water problem. Weston called the water situation his ‘No. 1 priority’. His opponents did not seem convinced. The Liberals’ Stephen Chase, who is also Saint John’s deputy mayor, said the city needs $57 million over four years to deal with the problem but that the federal government had not stepped up to the plate. The New Democratic Party’s Rob Moir, Green Party’s Sharon Murphy-Flatt and independent candidate Arthur Watson also emphasized the need for the federal government to work out a deal with the provincial and municipal governments.”

IGNATIEFF WILLING TO WORK WITH OTHER PARTIES: CBC reports, “Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says he would be willing to form a government according to parliamentary rules if Stephen Harper wins the most seats in the election but fails to win the confidence of the House of Commons. …The statement is the closest Ignatieff has come to describing how he could become prime minister since his vow on the first day of the campaign renouncing a coalition with the NDP and the Bloc Québécois.” Ignatieff said, “If the Governor General wants to call on other parties, or myself, for example, to try and form a government, then we try to form a government. That’s exactly how the rules work and what I’m trying to say to Canadians is, I understand the rules, I respect the rules, I will follow them to the letter and I’m not going to form a coalition. What I’m prepared to do is talk to Mr. Layton or Mr. Duceppe or even Mr. Harper and say, ‘We have an issue, and here’s the plan that I want to put before Parliament, this is the budget I would bring in,’ and then we take it from there.”

WOULD HARPER RESIGN? Polling seems to indicate that the outcome of this federal election will be another Conservative minority government. The Globe and Mail reports, “(Harper) warns at every opportunity that another minority Parliament will bring the Liberals to power with the collusion of the NDP and Bloc Québécois. (If that were to happen), would he stay on? ‘You know I’m not going to take the bite on that one,’ Mr. Harper smiled wearily. …But if the Conservatives were consigned to opposition, the pressure on Mr. Harper to step down would be enormous. And Mr. Harper himself would no doubt want to move on after seven years as Conservative Leader, five-and-a-half of them as Prime Minister. This is strange territory for speculation, with Conservatives well ahead in the polls and almost certainly destined to win, at the least, more seats than the Liberals. But Mr. Harper appears to genuinely believe that he has little hope of staying on as Prime Minister unless he wins a majority. …’I don’t think (another minority is) in the cards. I think if we win a minority, all the signals are clear the other three parties are going to get together in some form’ to replace the Conservatives, he said. …Many analysts would argue that, whatever the rhetoric, the opposition might well let another minority Conservative government govern.”

TODAY’S POLL: CTV reports, “About 43 per cent of surveyed Canadians said they were “comfortable” or “somewhat comfortable” with a Harper majority, the April 16 Nanos poll for CTV News and the Globe and Mail said. A nearly equal amount of Canadians — 46 per cent — said they were “uncomfortable” or “somewhat uncomfortable” with a Harper majority. But with the election only a few weeks away, about 11 per cent of Canadians say they are still unsure. National polling numbers show the Conservatives facing the prospect of a third straight minority government unless something changes in the next two weeks.”