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ELECTION 2011: Supporting all-candidates debates

Day 11

KAMLOOPS ALL-CANDIDATES DEBATE: The Kamloops Daily News reports, “The Kamloops chapter of the Council of Canadians is first off the mark with a federal all-candidates forum set for Friday, April 15 at 7 p.m. at Desert Gardens, 540 Seymour St. They have hosted forums in every election for the past 10 years with participation with most candidates who’ve run. The format will allow each candidates five minutes for a general outline, after which questions will be taken from the floor with a three-minute limit for candidates’ answers. Each candidate is then given five minutes to sum up their general responses.” Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo is currently represented by Conservative MP Cathy McLeod.

BROCKVILLE CHAPTER: The Brockville chapter is collecting questions to be asked at the all-candidates debate which takes place on April 18 at the Brockville Arts Centre.

CALGARY DEBATE? CBC reports, “A Calgarian trying to organize an all-candidates debate has secured a venue and set a date. Now all he needs is the candidates. Ted Woynillowicz says such forums aren’t common in the city during federal elections, even though they play an important part of the political process. …Woynillowicz is a Calgary organizer of a provincial healthcare lobby group called Friends of Medicare (and is with the Calgary chapter of the Council of Canadians). The group has secured a community centre in the riding of Calgary Centre-North and set a tentative date of April 19 for their forum. …Woynillowicz said all-candidates forums were popular when he first moved to Calgary in the 1970s. ‘They used to have forums all over during elections,’ he said. ‘It hasn’t been all that evident recently and that’s a real concern. And that is leading to lower and lower voter turnouts.’ …Calgary Centre-North is without an incumbent since former Environment Minister Jim Prentice announced in November that he was leaving politics. Replacing him as the Conservative candidate is Michelle Rempel, the director of the University of Calgary’s institutional programs division. That might bode well for Woynillowicz, who says he finds incumbents particularly hard to pin down.”

SUPPORT FOR DEBATES: As chapter activist Ted Woynillowicz says, all-candidates debates play an important part of the political process. The Council of Canadians is now offering up to $250 to each of its chapters across the country to help cover the costs (venue booking, promotion) to hold such debates. The Council of Canadians Montreal chapter recently had to cancel its planned April 6 debate due to the lack of candidates confirming to attend.

SUBMIT QUESTIONS FOR THE LEADERS’ DEBATES: CTV reports, “The English language leaders’ debate will be held on April 12th (and in French on April 14) in Ottawa. As in the past, the questions will come from Canadians. Submit your questions via email: question@electiondebate2011.ca.” The Globe and Mail adds today, “Nearly half – 48 per cent – of those surveyed over the past weekend by Nanos Research for The Globe and Mail said they support Ms. May’s inclusion in the pair of televised faceoffs among party leaders… Another 13 per cent said they somewhat support allowing her to take part. That compares with the just 19 per cent of respondents who said they would oppose having Ms. May at the table, and a further 9 per cent who said they were somewhat opposed.”

THE COUNCIL ‘STEPS UP’: Fred Wilson writes in his rabble.ca blog, “In political time, the four weeks of concentrated politics ahead is long enough for thousands to be organized into action. Canada’s largest citizen organization, the Council of Canadians, has stepped up to the challenge and national chairperson Maude Barlow is giving weekly video commentaries on the election. The first can be seen here http://canadians.org/.” To read Fred’s blog, go to http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/fwilson/2011/04/neo-conservatives-are-gates.

NEW MAUDE BARLOW VIDEO COMING: Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will be commenting on ‘Week 2’ of the federal election, specifically on water policy and the urgency for the parties to prioritize recognition of the right to water, now that there are United Nations resolutions recognizing the right and indicating that the right is legally binding and equal to other human rights obligations. In just over three days, the first Maude Barlow election video has had 508 views. A recent Amnesty International report – issued by their International Secretariat – stated, “Canada’s standing as an international human rights champion has dropped. In the days leading to the election all parties must make concrete commitments to help to restore its leadership role. …Canada must recognize the right to water and sanitation in international law.” The Liberal Party platform released on Sunday failed to mention the right to water.

CRITIQUE OF LIBERAL CLIMATE/ ENERGY POLICY: To read Council of Canadians campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue’s critique of the Liberal climate/ energy platform, which was unveiled on Sunday, please go to http://canadians.org/energyblog/?p=494. On the tar sands, she writes, “The Liberal’s platform does recognize that the tar sands are poorly regulated. It calls for investments in technologies that reduce environmental impacts, increased rigour of federal government regulatory responsibilities and an increased knowledge base for responsible regulation. It also includes a plan to shorten the Conservative’s planned phase out of a lucrative subsidy, the Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance, for the tar sands. This does not go as far as the NDP which recognize the need for a moratorium on new projects. The Green Party is calling for a moratorium on further increases in annual production.”

FIRST NATIONS DRINKING WATER: The Winnipeg Free Press reports, “Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said Sunday a Liberal government would bring running water to northern Manitoba reserves that now lack it. …Ignatieff said he met with chiefs from northern Manitoba while he was in Winnipeg March 30 and is appalled by the fact thousands of Canadians live in deplorable conditions without running water. …Most reserves have water-treatment plants that provide potable water for residents to use, but in several Manitoba reserves, particularly in the Island Lake area, residents have to fill buckets and pails at the plant and carry them home. Others have holding tanks beneath their houses that are filled by water trucks. Last fall, the tanks on one reserve were contaminated with bacteria because they are difficult to clean and few in the communities have the training and equipment necessary to do so. …Ignatieff said the chiefs have to bring him a plan and then find a way to fulfil it. ‘We gotta get a plan, we gotta get a competitive bid and we gotta get it done,’ he said. …Additional dollars are needed to expand water-treatment plants, many of which are not big enough to produce the amount of clean drinking water needed in fast-growing communities. The recent federal budget was silent on the issue of clean water for reserves.” Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui has written, “The 65 F-35 fighter jets that Harper plans to purchase have been estimated to cost over $100 million each. So to be clear, the purchase of two of these fighter jets would exceed what is being allocated to First Nation communities for drinking water. …We need to highlight the importance of Canada’s recognition on the right to water and to press party leaders to make effective commitments to improve drinking water in First Nation communities.” Emma’s blog is at http://canadians.org/waterblog/.

PENSIONS: CBC reports, “The NDP leader (Jack Layton) said that if elected prime minister he’d gradually double the benefit seniors get from the Canada Pension Plan and the Quebec Pension Plan.” The Globe and Mail adds, “Since 2009, Mr. Layton has been urging the Conservative government to double CPP and QPP payouts, increasing the monthly benefit to $1,817 from $908. …The Liberals are proposing a voluntary type of top up to Canada Pension Plan contributions that would see pensioners get more in benefits.” The Toronto Star notes, “(The NDP plan) would cost employers somewhere between $2.50 and $3.50 more per week once implemented.”

THE GUN REGISTRY: CBC reports, “Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is promising once again to eliminate Canada’s long-gun registry.” For a Coalition for Gun Control backgrounder on the long-gun registry – which includes party positions on this – go to http://www.guncontrol.ca/English/Home/Releases/HandoutElection2011.pdf. The coalition writes, “The gun registry never killed anyone. Ending it may.”

COALITION WON’T SET BACK THE ECONOMY: The Toronto Star reports, “Contrary to federal election campaign rhetoric, neither a minority nor coalition government would necessarily be a detriment to the Canadian economy, economists and political science experts say. …In the opening days of the federal election campaign, Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned voters that a coalition government could set back the economy.” But Steven Hess, lead analyst for Canada’s rating at Moody’s Investors Services in New York, says, “No matter who is in power we feel there is a consensus in Canada among the major political parties that deficit reduction is desirable. For us the bottom line is that reduction and elimination of the deficit over the next several years will be the goal of no matter which government is there.” Mark Hopkins, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in Pennsylvania, says, “The economy is recovering. It has the money to spend on what it wants, corporate tax cuts or money for seniors. Now that’s going to be up to the electorate to make that call.” The article concludes, “Any new budget introduced after the election is likely to show a similar path toward eliminating the budget deficit by 2016, which would be positive for the country’s credit rating, according to Moody’s.”

GUELPH: The Toronto Star reports, “Guelph candidate Marty Burke, an Air Canada pilot, welcomed Harper to an evening rally. The retired air force officer was in hot water over the last few days after the Star unearthed his letters to local newspapers that called the Afghan mission “near worthless” and railed against the appointment of former governor general Michaëlle Jean because she is a female immigrant and visible minority.” Burke’s opponents are Liberal MP Frank Valeriote, NDP candidate Bobbi Stewart and Green Party candidate Rob Routledge.

WHERE THE LEADERS ARE TODAY: The Winnipeg Free Press reports, “Prime Minister Stephen Harper ventures into unfriendly territory today, taking his campaign into solid Bloc Quebecois ridings. His standard stump speech routinely talks about the dangers of his opponents giving the Bloc a role in a coalition government. He’s likely going to drop that segment for this stretch of the campaign. One event will see him visit a fire hall in Victoriaville, Que. (at 9 am), where he’ll certainly tout the March 22 budget and its proposed tax break for volunteer firefighters. And he’ll bring most of his Quebec cabinet ministers to an evening rally. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is also heading into Quebec, where he’ll have to prepare himself for tough questions about his announcement Monday that a Liberal government would back a Newfoundland hydro project with billions in loan guarantees. Jack Layton is in Winnipeg, where the party is desperately trying to regain Winnipeg-North, a bastion they lost in a byelection last fall.” He’llmake a policy announcement at 10 am. Gilles Duceppe will be in Rimouski then Sainte-Flavie and Mont-Joli. Elizabeth May will be in Saanich.

TODAY’S POLL: The Winnipeg Free Press reports, “The polls don’t all put Harper within touch of a majority. A Canadian Press-Harris Decima survey released (Monday) afternoon suggested the gap was a mere seven points, with the Conservatives leading the Liberals 35 per cent to 28 per cent. That is almost identical to the vote results in the last election.”