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ELECTION 2011: Midway point in the election

Day 19 – Today marks the midway point in this federal election.

LAST NIGHT’S LEADERS DEBATE: While the general consensus is likely that no one leader won the debate, and that there were no ‘knock-out’ punches, there were a few good lines: 1) After Harper answered the first question of the evening, a pre-taped segment from a voter, Duceppe said, ““I would first like to congratulate Mr. Harper for answering a question from a citizen for the first time in this campaign.” 2) After Harper used the word ‘bickering’, Ignatieff said, “There he goes again with this word bickering. This is a debate, Mr. Harper. This is a democracy. …You keep talking about Parliament as if it’s this little debating society that’s a pesky interference in your rule of the country.” 3) Layton saying, “I don’t why we’re talking about (new) prisons when the crooks are so happy in the Senate.” If you missed the debate, watch it at http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/leaders-debate/#.

PERIMETER SECURITY: Canadian Press is reporting in newspapers across the country 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. ‘It affects the Canadian people and we have a right to hear about it, and it should be part of this election debate.”

G8 SPENDING SCANDAL: Demand that the G8 spending report be released immediately. Send your message – voters need to know – to the party leaders, the Speaker and the Auditor General at – Harper.S@parl.gc.ca; Ignatieff.M@parl.gc.ca; Layton.J@parl.gc.ca; Duceppe.G@parl.gc.ca; Milliken.P@parl.gc.ca; communications@oag-bvg.gc.ca. Your message could be as short as two lines — I demand that the G8 spending report be released. The Globe and Mail says, “Parliamentary scholar Ned Franks said that Peter Milliken, who still holds the office of Speaker of the House of Commons, could be urged, on unanimous agreement of the parties, to release the report if it was provided to him by the Auditor-General.”

CETA TALKS THIS ELECTION: In a further contempt of Parliament, the Harper government is continuing free trade negotiations with the European Union this week despite a federal election being fought, partly, on economic policy. Maude Barlow says, “Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to explain to Canadians how he can justify negotiating the biggest trade agreement in Canada’s history right in the middle of an election campaign. This is another contempt of Parliament that the public needs to hear about.”

PETERBOROUGH ALL-CANDIDATES DEBATE: At an all-candidates meeting on Monday night in Peterborough, Council activist Roy Brady asked, “With the Canada-EU trade and investment agreement negotiations (CETA) going on at this very moment and hardly any information coming to us, please provide a specific update. And would you exempt health services, water services and municipal government procurement from the negotiations?” Conservative MP Del Mastro provided no specifics or updates, just the usual support for trade; the Liberal candidate said the Conservatives were being secretive; the Green candidate said he would protect water and health; and the NDP candidate said the threat to health care from this government is recurrent and real.

PARRY SOUND-MUSKOKA DEBATE: There will be an all-candidates debate tonight in at the Algonquin Theatre at 7 pm. It will feature Conservative MP Tony Clement, Liberal candidate Cindy Waters, NDP Wendy Wilson, and Green Glenn Hodgson. Will there be questions about G8 spending?

WESTERN ARCTIC DEBATE: CBC reports, “Northwest Territories group that has had a long history of hosting federal all-candidate forums is struggling to round up all of the riding’s candidates this time around. Roughly half the candidates in the Western Arctic riding have confirmed they will attend Alternatives North’s public forum in Yellowknife on April 27, according to organizers. NDP incumbent Dennis Bevington and Liberal candidate Joe Handley — two of the riding’s five candidates — said they plan to be at the social justice group’s event. …But Green Party candidate Eli Purchase declined to attend because of a prior commitment… Conservative candidate Sandy Lee told Brockman she would not attend the forum because she will be on the campaign trail that day…”

CAPE BRETON-CANSO DEBATE: An all-candidates debate in Inverness County, Nova Scotia – organized by CBC Information Morning – will take place this Thursday at the Inverness Education Centre/ Academy gymnasium at 7 pm.

UPCOMING DEBATES: To date, chapters are organizing all-candidates debates in Comox Valley (tonight), Kamloops (April 15), Brockville (collecting questions for a debate on April 18), Calgary (April 19, tbc), Prince Albert (April 20), and Red Deer (April 28). The Council of Canadians is offering $250 to chapters to help cover the costs of organizing all-candidates debates.

REFUSING TO DEBATE? 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). Are there candidates in your riding refusing to attend debates? Let us know!

HARPER THE BULLY: Council activist Brigid Kemp writes in the Penticton Western News, “Last July Stephen Harper, supposedly on behalf of Canada and Canadians, abstained from voting on a United Nations resolution to make access to water and sanitation a human right. Not only did the prime minister abstain, but the Council of Canadians reported that he approached other countries to do the same. Fortunately, the resolution did pass, but is yet to help those communities, especially in the northern reaches of Canada who don’t have access to safe, drinkable water and sanitation, in the 21st century. To place himself as a privileged class, and above the democratic rights of the people of Canada, I see that prime minister is very much akin to the bully in the school yard, the bully/abuser in a relationship, the bully in the workplace.”

SALARY AND SEPARATION PAY: The Canadian Press reports, “Newly released documents suggest the Conservative government fattened the pay of some political staffers while the country was tackling an economic crisis in 2009. In one case, a senior aide’s salary was raised to $190,000 — $35,000 more than the maximum rate. News of those bonuses comes two days after The Canadian Press revealed that, in the future, more staffers will become eligible for an increase in salary and separation benefits thanks to guidelines enacted this month. The Harper government approved a 50 per-cent increase in the maximum separation pay political aides can receive — up to six months from four. That’s on top of severance pay.”

GREAT LAKES POLL: The Great Lakes poll on our website has 279 people saying YES, more should be spent on cleaning up each of the Great Lakes than the $2 million the Harper government spent on the G20 Fake Lake. To vote, go to www.canadians.org.

MAUDE ELECTION VIDEO: Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will be making her third election commentary video this Friday in Montreal. To see her first (with 1,173 views) and second (with 409 views) video, please go to www.canadians.org.

WHAT WOULD HARPER DO WITH A MAJORITY? Globe and Mail columnist Adam Radwanski writes Harper would:
– further remove Ottawa from health care
– move the country toward a more market-oriented health care system
– have more leeway to negotiate a perimeter agreement with the United States
– package law-and-order initiatives into an omnibus bill
– do away with the long-gun registry
– eliminate per-vote subsidies to political parties
– start to reform the Senate
– downsize government departments
– implement further tax reforms
– change the CBC.

RABBLE ELECTION WEB-PAGE: Check out the rabble.ca excellent election web-page at http://www.rabble.ca/issues/elections.

TODAY’S POLL: It will be interesting to see the post-debate polls. CTV reported, “A poll released Monday puts the Conservatives in the lead with 39.7 per cent support from surveyed voters, with the Liberals trailing behind at 31.2 per cent and the NDP at 16.8 per cent. The Bloc Quebecois received 7.8 per cent support from respondents, while the Greens had 4.0 per cent.”