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ELECTION 2011: Council election ad to reach 1.2 million voters

Day 33

VOTE FOR DEMOCRACY: With less than a week until Election Day, the Council of Canadians is running a series of print advertisements in Metro Newspapers across Canada, encouraging Canadians to vote. The ads, which will run in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Vancouver, declare “On May 2nd, Vote for democracy” for “Your chance to win! Fill out your ballot for a chance to win the Canada of your choice!” The ads note there is “no purchase necessary, must be 18 years or older.” The ads will reach an estimated 1.24 million people. To see the ad in yesterday’s Toronto Metro, go to http://reader.metronews.ca/digital_launch.aspx?ID=ae45d194-e887-4f4e-bfc7-62a403de57df.

GET OUT AND VOTE: Toronto Star columnist Tim Harper writes, “Pollsters say they are finding little enthusiasm and engagement from voters in this campaign, despite the huge audience for the televised debates earlier this month and a soaring turnout rate at advance polls. A smaller turnout helps Harper because his base is — if the pollsters are to be believed — more energetic and enthused. And the Conservatives are generally acknowledged to be the most adept of the parties at getting their voters to the polls.”

DEEP INTEGRATION: Ralph Nader writes in the Toronto Star, “Opponents of Prime Minister Stephen Harper are finding that, in one commentator’s words, ‘Questions of Harper’s ethics, accountability, secrecy and contempt for democracy have not stuck.’ Questions about secrecy, however, should stick. Harper’s secret ongoing negotiations for ‘deep integration’ with the U.S. could diminish the features of Canadian independence which have brought Canada world-envied standards of living, including medicare for all. …The early tangle of ‘deep integration’ within the framework of a North American security perimeter agreement is being readied secretly without public participation for signing by Ottawa and Washington later this year is just beginning. …Once the U.S. government’s national security scaffolding surrounds Canada, many policy matters will become ‘national security’ priorities. Canadian energy, water, the Canadian Arctic, anti-monopoly enforcement, and Canadian foreign investment policies could be subsumed under ‘national security’ imperatives. …This election presents an opportunity for citizens to question and demand truthful responses from their incumbent government about serious risks to Canadian independence. What is Harper, who has an authoritarian bent, offering in his secret deliberations with the U.S. government? …Deep integration and all it involves for your people needs to become a major election issue before a lengthy period of unilateral government solidifies.”

STOCK EXCHANGE TAKEOVER: The Globe and Mail reports, “You might have expected the fate of Canada’s iconic Toronto Stock Exchange to come up at some point during the federal election campaign. After all, the contentious merger proposal between the owners of the Toronto and London stock exchanges has sparked intense debate in the business community. …(But) federal leaders also have avoided a potential political headache over whether the stock exchange…is a ‘strategic asset’ – the kind where there should be no erosion of this country’s influence. So why is the deal on the sidelines of the campaign? Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan likely has something to do with that. …Initially downright hostile to the deal, …just as suddenly, he clammed up. His silence is not because he became a fan of the deal, …rather, he is no longer sure whether Ontario can stop the deal on its own. …So while government lawyers sort out what exactly Ontario can do, questions over where Canada stands on foreign takeovers have been punted to another day.”

ASBESTOS: CTV reports, “As the Conservatives battle for every possible seat in Quebec, they are fixing their sights on the riding of Richmond-Athabaska, in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, which is currently held by the Bloc Quebecois. They’re also hoping to hold on to neighbouring Megantic-L’Erable, which is home to another asbestos operation in Thetford Mines. Harper spent Tuesday unabashedly boosting the industry, insisting asbestos can be used safely, even as his government’s support has come under fierce criticism at home and abroad.”

BUSINESS TAKES NOTICE: The Ottawa Citizen reports that Jayson Myers, chief executive of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, says, “What happens after the election (if the NDP win 60 or 100 seats) in terms of the next budget, (and) the economic-policy agenda going forward? For a lot of businesses, there is some cause for concern.” CTV adds, “With the latest polls suggesting that Jack Layton and his New Democratic Party are reaching unprecedented levels of national support, investors are starting to take notice.” BMO Nesbitt Burns deputy chief economist Douglas Porter says, “While that’s certainly an ‘interesting’ result, it’s not exactly market friendly. In other words, hang on to your hats!” The Canadian Press reports that Jim Stanford, chief economist at the Canadian Auto Workers, says, “Corporations won’t be happy to see their $6 billion in tax cuts cancelled. But even if Jack Layton was prime minister on May 3, Canada is still a fantastically profitable and secure place for business to operate and that’s why our dollar is worth $1.05 and our stock market is high and corporate profits are so high. None of that is going to change.”

CONSERVATIVE HILLYER IS DONE WITH DEBATES: CJOC reports, “Lethbridge Conservative candidate Jim Hillyer won’t be attending any more all-candidates forums for the rest of this federal election campaign. His campaign team sent out a media advisory Wednesday evening stating, ‘After very careful thought and consideration, the campaign team has determined that rather than having Jim spend his time engaged in partisan bickering, the best way for him to reach out to constituents is to spend his time out in the various communities, knocking on doors and speaking with people on a more personal level’. …Hillyer was a no-show to an all-candidates forum on Tuesday at the Library and that sparked some criticism after the forum and on social media. Hillyer did however attend a forum on Monday at the University of Lethbridge. Hillyer’s campaign says it will not comment on that matter any more.”

WILLIAMS LAKE ALL-CANDIDATES DEBATE: LL-The Williams Lake Tribune reports, “Federal candidates in the Cariboo-Prince George riding – Jon Ronan (IND), Dick Harris (CON), Jon Van Barneveld (NDP), Henry Thiessen (CHP), Sangeeta Lalli (LIB), Heidi Redl (GRN), and Jordan Turner (RHI) – (were in attendance) for the first of two all-candidates meetings Wednesday evening at the Cariboo Arts Centre. …The meeting was organized by the Williams Lake chapter of the Council of Canadians and gave the public an opportunity to submit questions that would be answered by each candidate. …The privatization of health-care was…queried. Lalli defended public care as a ‘necessity’. Thiessen suggested there was a place for private care in the system but that it should be ‘managed and paid for by the government’, and remain accessible. Van Barneveld said the public system should be protected and can be paid for by rolling back corporate tax cuts. Harris suggested that the Conservative party supports public health care and that the party has ‘no intention’ to privatize it. Redl promoted the idea of universal pharmacare, no health-care privatization and more beds across the system.”

COALITIONS ARE GOOD: CEP President Dave Coles writes on rabble.ca, “To hear Stephen Harper tell it, having a coalition form the federal government would not only be a disaster, but would go against parliamentary values. Nothing could be further from the truth, on both counts. Fact is, coalitions are – and always have been – a big part of parliamentary democracy. In many countries, coalitions are even the norm. …In Canada, we tend to deal with voter hesitation by electing minority governments that have to work with other parties without forming actual coalitions. …Harper doesn’t like minorities because they mean he can’t do whatever he wants. That’s why he wants a majority. And that’s reason enough to deny him one.”

MAUDE ELECTION VIDEOS: To watch short videos with election commentary by Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow, go to www.canadians.org. The videos have had 3850 views so far. A fourth video will be made on Thursday and posted for the remaining days of the election.

GREEN ON WATER: The Peterborough Examiner reports that Green candidate Michael Bell says, “We’re absolutely adamant about not exporting water to America. A lot of the Council of Canadian folks are Green thinkers, and some are Green supporters, and we’ve certainly been in conversation with Council of Canadians who have been our main lead on the stewardship of our water supply. There are ways that it’s going to end up sneaking out of here, as bottled water. We would fight that. If there were ever attempts to bulk export it, we would fight that tooth and nail.”

NDP ON RTW: Northumberland Today reports that local NDP candidate Russ Christianson says, “Human beings require fresh, clean water to survive. That’s why the United Nations has declared it a basic human right. Successive Liberal and Conservative governments have abstained or blocked this UN resolution.”

ELECTION VIDEO: For election commentary from a young woman in Quebec, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cll21V-PO_E&feature=feedwll&list=WL.

MAJORITY FOR HARPER? Toronto Star columnist Tim Harper writes, “Harper has already proven adept at governing as if he had a majority. Now, in these final days, he’s campaigning as if he has a majority. Voting day is being treated like so many of those inconvenient interruptions in his life, like contempt motions and election campaigns, which just get in the way of an honest day’s work at the office. …Party insiders concede he is not there, and unless he can turn back a tide of support for NDP leader Jack Layton, particularly in B.C. and Quebec, he won’t get there. If he does win his majority Monday, it will be because he has traversed the country delivering the simplest of messages — Canadians are sick of elections. There may be a variation here and there, a nod to a local situation, a shot at whichever party poses the greatest threat based on whatever ballroom he happens to be standing in at any given moment. But he has adorned every region with the same, cynical bumper sticker. Vote for me and no one will bother you for four years.”

LATEST SEAT PROJECTION: ThreeHundredEight.blogspot.com/ is projecting 146 seats for the Conservatives (up 3 seats, but 9 seats short of a majority government), 75 for the Liberals, 42 for the NDP, and 44 for the Bloc Quebecois.