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ELECTION 2011: The RCMP should not eject people from Harper rallies

Day 13

BLOW A BUBBLE FOR DEMOCRACY! The Council of Canadians is encouraging everyone to send us a photo of yourself, your friends and family blowing a bubble for democracy to take a poke at Harper’s campaign bubble. Among the various news reports, the Toronto Star is now reporting, “One young woman was apparently ordered to turn her T-shirt inside out because it had a slogan endorsing environmentally-friendly fuels.” Send your photos to mramsden@canadians.org or upload them to a Flickr group called ‘bubbles4democracy‘ www.flickr.com/groups/1668231@N23/. More on this at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=7371.

BOTTLED WATER TOO? The Toronto Star reports, “When Joanna MacDonald pressed officials further (on why she couldn’t enter a Harper forum in Guelph), she was asked if she had ever been involved with any on-campus clubs. When MacDonald replied that she had been involved with various environmental groups — including one advocating for the removal of bottled water from the university grounds — she said the official responded, saying: ‘Well, that’s probably why.'”

RCMP SHOULD NOT EJECT PEOPLE FROM HARPER RALLIES: The Winnipeg Free Press reports,” The RCMP are pointedly reminding their police officers they have a duty to protect the safety of Prime Minister Stephen Harper — not the Conservative Party of Canada. The police force issued a statement Wednesday weighing into a controversy over the Conservative campaign’s efforts to eject certain people from its political rallies. …’RCMP members assigned to the security details for party leaders have been reminded of their responsibilities,’ said the note from spokesman Sgt. Greg Cox. The RCMP’s mandate does not include managing public access to private events, Cox noted. Earlier Wednesday, in a statement issued to some media outlets, Cox went further, confirming the RCMP had assisted party organizers in restricting access to an event. It’s not the first time the Harper Tories have used police to keep journalists, photographers and some members of the general public at bay during an election campaign. In 2008, a Harper aide ordered the Mounties to move reporters away when they tried asking him questions at a vineyard photo op.”

NO CETA OFFERS THIS ELECTION! The Council of Canadians has argued that Canada-European Union free trade talks – scheduled for April 11-15 in Ottawa – should be put on hold during this federal election. Now Embassy magazine reports, “The federal election may not have stopped Canadian and European negotiators from meeting for another round of trade talks this week—but it did postpone a landmark moment for the negotiations: the presentation of formal offers. Those offers could have included services, notably public water, health, transit and energy services, as well as public procurement by provincial and municipal government agencies. Last week, Postmedia newspapers across the country reported, “Free trade critics (the Council of Canadians) say Harper should postpone this round of negotiations…so that Canadians can debate the issue during the election campaign.” The Toronto Star reported Maude Barlow saying, “Common sense tells us you shouldn’t be allowed to make major policy decisions during an election that would bind future governments. The deal involves controversial social and economic policy changes that should be made by Parliament.”

HEWERS OF TOXIC OIL, CARRIERS OF A PAPER THIN ECONOMY: Council of Canadians Board member Robert Chernomas writes on rabble.ca, “The Harper vision for our economy depends on the world’s most destructive environmental project, private banks that will leave no stone unpolluted or worker unexploited domestically and globally and an increasingly tax free, free trade and unregulated economy open for business. We should be saying no to austerity. A vote for the Conservatives is to take the wrong side in one of the great economic debates of our time and leave us all too dependent on toxic oil and the power of our banks to determine our economic and environmental future.” His full commentary can be read at http://www.rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/robert-chernomas/2011/04/hewers-toxic-oil-carriers-paper-thin-economy.

RIGHT TO WATER THIS ELECTION: CottageCountryNow.ca printed this open letter to the prime minister from James A. Thomson in Bracebridge, Ontario: “On July 28, 2010, an overwhelming number of nations agreed to (recognize) the right to water and sanitation as a basic human right. Unfortunately for the reputation of Canada, your government chose to speak against this change and when the matter came to a vote Canada abstained. Now Canada and Toga are left as those who have not recognized this right. The true shame in this action is represented by the fact that Canada has ignored the terrible conditions on many of the aboriginal reserves in this country where clean, potable water and proper sanitation facilities are lacking. …Since the federal government is responsible for matters affecting the well-being of our aboriginal, First Nations peoples, it would seem that your government has failed miserably in this responsibility and in the process damaged the reputation of Canada. Surely funding can be discovered for inclusion in your election platform to address this scandal.”

LONDON WEST DEBATE: A London Health Coalition media release states, “Conservative federal election candidate in London West, Ed Holder, has refused to attend an all-candidates meeting on health care to be held on April 20 at London’s Best Western Lamplighter Inn. Today, the London Health Coalition released a letter from Mr. Holder’s communication director stating that Mr. Holder does not see health care as a federal issue and they ‘are not interested’ in seeing Ed Holder debate health care. Green, Liberal and NDP candidates have all agreed to attend.”

PRINCE ALBERT DEBATE: The Council of Canadians Prince Albert chapter is organizing an all-candidates debate. The NDP and Green Party candidates have agreed, messages have been left with the Conservative and Liberal candidates. More on this soon.

CALGARY EAST DEBATE: 660 News reports, “A Calgary Conservative up for re-election is being slammed by his opponents for refusing to take part in an all-candidates forum. But Calgary East MP Deepak Obhrai isn’t the only one. So far, only a couple of Tory incumbents in the city will be debating other party candidates. Calgary Centre MP Lee Richardson and Calgary Centre-North MP Michelle Rempel will both participate (in debates). According to The Calgary Herald, Calgary Southeast MP Jason Kenney is spending much of his time on the national campaign. Calgary-Nose Hill MP Diane Ablonczy says that at this point, people know her for good or for ill, and there have not been forums in her riding in recent years.” The Calgary Herald notes, “Liberal candidate Josipa Petrunic, the NDP’s Al Brown and Green party hopeful Scott Milton have all said they will participate in an all-candidates forum on April 12 at 7 p.m. at the Inglewood Community Hall, in advance of the May 2 federal election.”

BRANT: The Brantford Expositor reports, “Leslie Bory is unhappy that he lost his manufacturing job during the recession. To lodge his protest, the 41-year-old, who went back to school to study environmental technology, has filed his papers to run in Brant riding in the May 2 federal election. Bory said he believes Canada’s international trade agreements, particularly NAFTA, are not working for this country. He is the fifth candidate in the race in Brant riding. The others are Green Party candidate Nora Fueten, New Democrat Marc Laferriere, Conservative incumbent Phil McColeman and Liberal Lloyd St Amand.”

SOUTH SHORE-ST. MARGARETS: The Halifax Chronicle-Herald reports, “Workers for South Shore-St. Margarets Conservative candidate Gerald Keddy pulled down an election sign from an Economic Action Plan signpost in Bridgewater on Wednesday after NDP candidate Gordon Earle complained to Elections Canada. The sign was posted on another sign advertising $767,800 in federal funding for a waste-water infrastructure project on the corner of Dominion and High streets. Keddy said it is not much of a story, and that campaigns for all parties routinely have to pull down signs that are improperly placed. According to the New Democrats, Keddy’s sign violated the Elections Act, which states: ‘No person shall knowingly conduct election advertising or cause it to be conducted using a means of transmission of the Government of Canada.'”

SAULT STE. MARIE: Sault This Week asked local candidates, “What is your party’s stand on public/ private health care?” Liberal candidate Christian Provenzano said, “Our party fully supports the Canada Health Act and any changes would have to be made within the scope of that Act, and any deviation from that is not on the books right now. …I think Canadians have to ask themselves if they want a Liberal government or a Conservative government negotiating (the Canada Health Accord).” Green Party candidate Luke MacMichael said, “We absolutely believe in full 100 per cent public funding for everyone, there shouldn’t be private health care because that only widens the divide between the rich and poor.” Incumbent New Democrat MP Tony Martin said, “We’ve always believed in public health care, we were responsible through Tommy Douglas for bringing it in, in the first place, and we believe all subsequent governments, both Liberal and Conservative, have dropped the ball on it. They’ve allowed it to slip slowly into disarray, some of it being delivered by the private sector, costing individuals more in terms of fees and billing schemes that have popped up. We believe that if the government was serious about the public health care system it would move to reform it in a way that would be reflective of the needs of today. …We really need to be looking at pharmacare, what Tommy Douglas called the second wave.”

CORPORATE TAX CUTS DON’T WORK: CTV reports, “A new analysis appears to undermine the Harper government’s rationale in pressing ahead on corporate tax cuts. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says its analysis finds that companies who benefited most from a massive reduction in taxes during the last decade underperformed on job creation. The left-leaning think-tank tracked the job creation record of 198 of Canada’s top companies from 2000 to 2009. During that period they reported a 50 per cent increase in profits and paid 20 per cent less in taxes. But from 2005 to 2010, those companies grew their employment by five per cent, less than the six per cent average for the entire economy. The decade also saw a decline in the rate of corporate investment in machinery and equipment, another reason the government argues taxes should be reduced.”

CITIES: The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has unveiled its platform for the federal election. That platform says, “Proposed new federal wastewater regulations will require cities and communities to rebuild one in four of the country’s wastewater systems, at an estimated cost of more than $20 billion. Parties must commit to legislate a long-term infrastructure plan that…pays the federal share of any new infrastructure costs downloaded onto municipalities, including the more than $20-billion cost of meeting new federal wastewater standards…”

HEALTH CARE: Canada’s universal health care system is in jeopardy if the Conservatives form a majority in this election, NDP Jack Layton said. Layton maintained during a campaign stop that health care remains the centerpiece of the federal election and that Conservative Leader Stephen Harper can’t be trusted to protect it. ‘The future of health care in Canada will be determined by the results of this election and if Mr. Harper is in charge of the future of health care in our country then Canadians should be very, very worried,’ he (said). The federal Health Accord with the provinces is up for negotiation in 2014.”

NELLY FURTADO: CTV reports, “Nelly Furtado has launched a Twitter campaign to encourage young people to vote in the upcoming federal election. The 32-year-old Victoria songstress has tweeted about almost nothing else in the past week. She’s dished out tips to students who will be voting outside their riding, linked out-of-country citizens to forms on the Elections Canada website and has reminded her nearly 2 million followers about non-democratic countries where citizens aren’t allowed to vote.”

WHERE THE LEADERS ARE TODAY: CBC reports, “Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is expected to kick off the day with a campaign event in Vaughan, Ont., followed by a rally in Hamilton, Ont., Thursday evening. Ignatieff, the Liberal leader, will host a town hall with seniors in Laval, Que., Thursday morning, followed by a town hall in Hamilton, Ont., in the evening. NDP Leader Jack Layton will stay in B.C. Thursday, starting with a campaign announcement with community leaders in Surrey, B.C. Layton will then head to Vancouver Island, where he will campaign with local candidates in Courtenay and Nanaimo. He is scheduled to finish the day with a rally in Esquimalt, B.C., Thursday evening. Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe will spend the day in Baie-Comeau, Que., starting with a photo opportunity at a local restaurant, followed by a meeting with a support group for the unemployed and a news conference. The Green Party is set to release its party platform at a media event in Toronto on Thursday. Party leader Elizabeth May is set to release the details at the Centre for Social Innovation Thursday morning. May is scheduled to wrap the day with a rally in Toronto Thursday evening.”

TODAY’S POLL/ SEAT PROJECTION: The Kitchener Record reports, “Based on (on an amalgamation of opinion polls taken between March 28 and April 2, which together surveyed 8,500 people in Canada by phone and online), the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy is projecting 150 seats for the Conservatives, 74 for the Liberals, 33 for the New Democrats, and 51 for the Bloc Québécois. A party needs 155 seats for a majority in the 308-seat House of Commons.”