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ELECTION 2011: Not Harper for the climate

Day 16

NOT HARPER FOR THE CLIMATE: The Associated Press reports, “Delegates from around the globe (including Canada) spent five days talking about what they will talk about at a year-end (climate) conference in Durban, South Africa. They agreed to talk about their opposing viewpoints. …’Developing nations, pointing to the industrialized world as the main culprit behind global warning, want an international treaty that would legally bind countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Washington and others (including the Harper government) reject (that). …Developing countries (want) to preserve the landmark 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the only international existing agreement on reducing emissions. It (expires) at the end of 2012…” About 300,000 people die annually from climate change-related causes and – given this continued inaction on the climate crisis – this number may increase to a million people a year.

SOUTH SHORE-ST. MARGARET’S: CBC reports that, “The riding of South Shore-St. Margaret’s was the closest Nova Scotia contest in the 2008 election.” It is currently held by Conservative MP Gerald Keddy. Before he was elected, he was an offshore drill operator and is currently the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of International Trade Peter Van Loan. As such, Keddy would be well aware of his department’s lobbying efforts against the European Fuel Quality Directive and their promotion of the tar sands.

FORT MCMURRAY-ATHABASCA: Which riding had the lowest voter turnout in the 2008 election? The centre of the tar sands debate – Fort McMurray-Athabasca. Just 35.8 per cent of those eligible voted. Conservative MP Brian Jean won that last election with 67 per cent of the vote.

SASKATOON-ROSETOWN-BIGGAR: The Globe and Mail reports, “Can (Jack Layton) create a breakthrough (in Saskatchewan) after seven years and three federal elections of NDP drought? The lack of NDP seats is not for lack of candidates with name recognition. Take Nettie Wiebe who is running Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar. Ms. Wiebe was the President of the National Farmers Union. She ran unsuccessfully for the federal NDP in Saskatoon-Humboldt in 2003 before losing two more times in Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar. Each race was very tight.”

WILLOWDALE: Embassy magazine reported last week, “At the federal level, the Liberals are also supporting the free trade talks with Europe, Liberal Trade critic (and Willowdale MP) Martha Hall Findlay said, although issues such as the Europeans’ push to reform Canada’s intellectual property laws and provincial public procurement might pose some concerns that need to be further debated, she added.” At the take-note debate on CETA in the House of Commons on December 14, Hall Findlay said, “The Liberals are very supportive of this agreement, but there have been some legitimate concerns raised, partly because people are not necessarily sure of the details of what is being negotiated.”

CARIBOO-PRINCE GEORGE: This is the riding that holds Teztan Biny (Fish Lake), the centre of a Schedule 2 mine waste into freshwater lake controversy. The Globe and Mail reports, “The former Liberal candidate in Cariboo-Prince George, where Conservative Dick Harris would appear to be a prohibitive favourite after taking 55 per cent of the vote in 2008, has endorsed NDP candidate Jonathan Van Barneveld.” The Prince George Free Press says, “The race will be between incumbent Dick Harris and Van Barneveld … the wily old veteran and the brash newcomer.”

AVALON: This riding includes Long Harbour, Placentia Bay where Vale is building a nickel processing plant – to be completed in 2013 – that will dump 400,000 tonnes of tailings annually into Sandy Pond, a 30-hectare freshwater lake. The Liberal MP representing the riding is Scott Andrews, who notes on his campaign website that “a new metal processing plant is being constructed.” His opponent is former Conservative MP and now former senator Fabian Manning. He was appointed to the Senate by Harper after he lost the 2008 election, where he ‘serves’ as a member of the Fisheries and Oceans standing committee. The St. John’s Telegram reports that this riding could have one of the closest outcomes in this election.

SIMCOE-GREY: This riding is where the Site 41 landfill on an aquifer campaign was fought. Former Conservative MP Helena Geurgis is now running in this riding as an independent. Her opponents are Conservative Kellie Leitch, Liberal Alex Smardenka, and NDP Katy Austin who, as reported by Simcoe.com, is “a retired school teacher, was part of the fight against Site 41, and sits on the Zero Waste Simcoe board of directors.”

BRUCE-GREY-OWEN SOUND: This riding — which includes the launching point for the Bruce Power nuclear waste shipments on the Great Lakes — is represented by Conservative MP Larry Miller. He faces NDP candidate Karen Gventer, Liberal Kimberley Love, and Green Emma Hogbin.

PARKDALE-HIGH PARK: This Toronto riding features a contest between Liberal MP and environment critic Gerard Kennedy and former NDP MP Peggy Nash, who was a strong-backer of the need for a new national water policy and the recognition of the human right to water and sanitation.

NDP PLATFORM: The Globe and Mail reports, “The New Democrats will roll out their policy platform on Sunday morning – the last of the three federalist parties in the House to put the full range of their ideas before the Canadian public.”

NDP WARNS OF CUTS: CBC reports, “Layton warns Canadians will suffer from major service cuts under either a Conservative or Liberal government. …(The Conservatives) say they’re going to cut $11 billion in government services and programs — they don’t tell us what they are,’ Layton said. …The Tories have pledged to cut $11 billion in government expenditures over the next three years by controlling spending and cutting waste, as well as through retirements in the federal civil service. The NDP leader also targeted the Liberals, warning that they too would be bringing in major cuts to services, ‘just like the Chrétien Liberals’. He said Ignatieff cannot be trusted, accusing him flip-flopping on issues such as corporate tax cuts, the Afghanistan mission and supporting Harper in the House of Commons ‘time and time again’.”

DEBATE THIS WEEK: QMI reports, “Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, NDP Leader Jack Layton and Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe — will debate in Ottawa in English on Tuesday night, with the French debate taking place Thursday.” Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson writes, “For Mr. Harper, next week’s debates are all about keeping his anger under control, not sounding so partisan all the time, and surviving a three-against-one format that’s inherently unfair to the incumbent Prime Minister. For Mr. Ignatieff, the debates are about showing himself as he has been in the campaign, in contrast to the demonic portrait of him in the Conservatives’ negative ads. He needs a lot of voters with a negative feeling toward him to be impressed with what they see. Otherwise, the Liberals’ chances will be over.”

CHAPTER-ORGANIZED ALL CANDIDATES DEBATES: To date, chapters are organizing all-candidates debates in Comox Valley (April 13), Kamloops (April 15), Brockville (collecting questions for a debate on April 18), Calgary (April 19, tbc), and Red Deer (April 28). The Council of Canadians is offering $250 to chapters to help cover the costs of organizing all-candidates debates.

ELECTION VIDEO: To see Maude Barlow’s new ‘Week 2’ election commentary, please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hXiyT-PXsM. In the one day since it was posted it has had 116 views.

VOTER’S TOOLKIT: Want to help make a difference in your community by taking action during the federal election campaign period? Check out the Council of Canadians’ new Voter’s Toolkit. The kit includes downloadable resources such as a 2011 Election leaflet, “Vote for the Canada you Want,” questions for candidates, tips on how to organize an all-candidates meetings, window signs and much more. You can download them at http://canadians.org/election/.

BUBBLES4DEMOCRACY: For more on this, go to http://canadians.org/action/2011/bubbles4democracy.html.

COUNCIL MEMBER RUNNING: The Kelowna Capital News reports, “(Tisha Kalmanovich) has played a prominent role with the Council of Canadians and spearheaded the formation of Kelowna Citizens for Public Power. ‘I’m running for the NDP (in this election) because it’s a people’s party,’ she said… Though she is running a virtual campaign office, this Sunday she is hoping to get out and talk to others about exactly what the needs in this community are and how she can address them. Starting with a meet-and-greet at Truffles Chocolates in downtown Kelowna, she hopes to launch a campaign grounded in grassroots issues—the economy, environment and social support.”

TODAY’S POLL: A new Nanos poll released yesterday says puts the parties standings at – Conservatives: 40.5 per cent support; Liberals: 31.7 per cent support; New Democrats: 13.2 per cent support; Bloc Quebecois: 9.2 per cent; Green Party: 4 per cent. CTV reports, “Nanos polling has shown daily drops of around one percentage point for the NDP for seven days straight. Nanos Research President and CEO Nik Nanos said Ontario is the key battleground where the NDP is bleeding support to the Liberals. The phenomenon could be partly due to Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff’s call for NDP supporters to turn to the Liberals as the only means of stopping Prime Minister Stephen Harper from winning a Conservative majority.”