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ELECTION 2011: Two more seats for a majority?

Day 17

MAJORITY? The Globe and Mail reports, “Were an election held today, the Tories would win 153 seats in the House of Commons, two short of a majority, according to’s updated seat and vote projections for The Globe and Mail. The Conservatives are three seats closer to their majority than they were one week ago in the projection but gains are becoming harder and harder to come by, and in most parts of the country the Tories are either stable or slipping.” Last week, the Kitchener Record reported, “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.”

BORDER SECURITY TALKS: While the federal government’s on-line consultation on perimeter security has been put on hold during the election, it may be that the talks with the US are continuing. Last Friday night, US President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Speaker John Boehner reached a budget agreement through to September 30, which avoided a partial US government shutdown. The Montreal Gazette reports, “Because only ‘essential’ US government operations would continue in a shutdown, it’s likely ongoing negotiations toward a Canada-US perimeter and border security deal would (have been) placed on hold until the US budget impasse is resolved.” A spokesperson for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said, “It would mean delays in the border talks, delays in the regulatory working group talks. We don’t like to see additional delays in a process which is already moving too slow for us…”

HARPER NOT HERE FOR HEALTH CARE: Council of Canadians health care campaigner Adrienne Silnicki writes, “The Conservative Government’s platform is about status quo.  If you think our health care system needs to be strengthened, improved, or expanded, then this platform is not for you. In fact, the only way the Conservatives may change health care is in a way that 90 per cent of Canadians don’t support, by privatizing it. …With no commitment to strengthen or expand the Canada Health Act; with no mention of home care, pharmacare, or continuing care; the Conservative platform on health care is just one more reason why Harper is not here for Canada.” To read her blog, please go to

CETA AND SUPPLY MANAGEMENT: The Montreal Gazette reports, “Stephen Harper, once a fierce opponent of agricultural protectionism, is touting the Conservatives as stout defenders of Canada’s highly protected dairy, egg and poultry industries. …Harper said a re-elected Conservative government would also continue to ‘resolutely’ defend the supply-management system that governs dairy, egg and poultry production. …All four main parties at the federal level have been loath to criticize supply management, fearing a backlash from farmers in Ontario and Quebec. Canada is negotiating a free-trade deal with Europe…” The Vancouver Sun reported last weekend, “European negotiators are hoping for at least some concessions by Canada on supply management. It’s a topic no federal politician will touch with a 10-foot pole on the campaign trail.”

FRACKING: One year ago, as reported by Canadian Press, “The risks (of fracking were) outlined in briefing notes…for Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis. (The documents) warn the process of releasing natural gas from shale…could draw heavily on freshwater resources and significantly increase Canada’s overall carbon-dioxide emissions. (They) also say projects in areas without infrastructure may require the construction of roads, drill pads and pipelines, which could create ‘extensive habitat fragmentation’ for wildlife.” Six months ago, then-environment minister Jim Prentice said federal regulations on fracking were a work in progress. There has been no news of this since. In contrast, Business Week reports, “On Jan. 22, (Green MEP Jose) Bové started a petition that now has about 100,000 signatures; within weeks the government (of France) ordered an exploration moratorium. On Mar. 11, Prime Minister François Fillon extended the ban until June, when parliamentary and ministry reports on the environmental and economic effects are due.”

WHAT ABOUT THE CANADA-COLOMBIA FTA? The Kings County Register reports, “Kings-Hants voters will get a chance to hear what their candidates have to say at a community forum Tuesday, April 19 in Wolfville. …Liberal Scott Brison, Conservative David Morse, Green Party member Sheila Richardson and NDPer Mark Rogers have been invited to participate through moderated questions from each of the sponsors and then a session of public questions. The forum will take place at Festival Theatre in Wolfville between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.”

DAM POLITICS: The Montreal Gazette reports, “That politicians believe there are more votes in damming a river than developing clean energy is clear from the recent billion-dollar loan guarantee promises from the Conservative Party to help finance hydro in Newfoundland and Labrador. …Lost in the politics of dam building are the rivers. From the Ontario border to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, only three major or mid-size rivers have not been harnessed for their electric power. …By 2020, the (Romaine River) will be replaced by four new dams, seven dikes, giant spillways and canals and 279.2 square kilometres of reservoirs. Once Hydro-Québec finishes damming the Romaine, it plans giant hydro dams for the neighbouring Petit Mécatina and Magpie Rivers. …Faced with this astonishing assault on nature, one question remains. Has hydro become an anachronism in a world where there are alternative energy solutions that do not destroy the environment? …(Apart from the destruction of the rivers), hydro reservoirs across Canada annually emit as much as one million tonnes of greenhouse gases. They come from the breakdown of biomass (dead trees and plants) left in the flooded area.”

NO SPECIFICS ON SPENDING CUTS: The CBC reports, “Conservative Leader Stephen Harper says a Conservative government would make only ‘modest’ cuts in spending to eliminate the deficit more quickly than forecast in its March 22 budget. …’Out of $80 billion of operating costs over three years, we’re going to shave five per cent off of that,’ he said. Harper was challenged by reporters to provide details of spending cuts needed to speed up the deficit reduction while paying for new tax cuts announced during the campaign, but wouldn’t offer specifics.”

NDP PLATFORM: The Toronto Star reports, “The New Democratic Party is offering (an) election platform it hopes will appeal to a broader sector of Canadians as it struggles against the Liberals and Conservatives to define its fourth party policies and priorities. …(Layton) said no matter the outcome on May 2, the platform will be a blueprint for the party. From health-care improvements to bringing Canadian soldiers home from Afghanistan, the plan provides a little bit for everybody while balancing the budget by 2014-15. …It includes rolling back the corporate tax rate, going after more than $16 billion from Canadian corporations using offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes, stopping $2 billion in subsidies to oil companies and taxing polluters to a tune of $1.2 billion over four years to reinvest in green initiatives, including transit. …The NDP plan to give consistent funding of more than $2 billion for municipalities to pay for infrastructure, police and public housing brought an immediate response from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.”

NO RIGHT TO WATER: While the NDP supports the human right to water and sanitation, disappointingly their election platform makes no reference to this now United Nations recognized and legally-binding (but not acknowledged by the Harper government) human right.

OUTREMONT: The Montreal Gazette reports, “A new CROP poll done for Montreal newspaper La Presse indicates (NDP MP Thomas) Mulcair handily leads the race for the Outremont riding, even though he’s up against a strong, well-known Liberal candidate – former MP and federal cabinet minister Martin Cauchon.”

LAC-SAINT-LOUIS: The Montreal Gazette reports, “The Tories hope that Larry Smith’s high-profile status might allow them to unseat Liberal backbencher Francis Scarpaleggia in the West Island riding, but their star candidate has made numerous political gaffes over the past few weeks, including bemoaning the ‘catastrophic’ pay cut he would be taking by accepting a job as a senator (a job that pays $132,000 a year), and being quoted in a French language newspaper as saying the protection of francophone Quebecers is not important.”

EDMONTON STRATHCONA: The Globe and Mail reports, “Locals (in this riding) are largely students and seniors, slightly poorer and about twice as likely to live in apartments compared to Alberta averages. However, they’re educated – about one-third have a university degree… (NDP MP Linda Duncan’s win in this riding was) helped that in 2008, they were going up against Conservative Rahim Jaffer… The grassroots swell that rallied behind Ms. Duncan pulled off an unthinkable, razor-thin 463-vote victory. Now, the battle is on again: The Conservatives want Edmonton-Strathcona back.”

TRINITY-SPADINA: The Toronto Star reports, “Trinity-Spadina is thought of as an NDP safe seat, and MP Olivia Chow, the two-term incumbent and leader Jack Layton’s wife, is a beloved figure among the calm, leafy avenues closer to Bloor St. But Chow only squeezed past her Liberal challengers in the past two elections. With the NDP and Liberals fighting for Toronto’s six downtown ridings, Trinity-Spadina is shaping up to be a political crucible.” Christine Innes is her Liberal challenger.

ST. JOHN’S EAST: VOCM reports, “Candidates in the province’s most populated riding of St. John’s East are locked into place. Incumbent NDP Jack Harris, John Allan is representing the Liberals, Jerry Byrne the Conservatives, and Robert Miller is running for the Green Party.” In the 2008 election, Jack Harris said of Sandy Pond, “Our party in parliament exposed this loophole which allowed mining companies to use these lakes as tailings ponds. We’re opposed to it. This was an exception which was allowed, and it seems a lot of mining companies across the country are lining up to drive through here. And we’re opposed to it. It’s wrong, and we’d like to change that legislation and ensure that this is not allowed to happen…”

FRENCH LANGUAGE DEBATE: The French language leaders debate has been rescheduled to Wednesday so as not to conflict with a Montréal Canadians vs. Boston Bruins hockey game on Thursday.

HOW DID YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD VOTE? The Tyee reports, “, a Quebec website, has created an electoral map of the 2008 federal election, overlaid on a Google Earth map of Canada. The map’s menu includes every riding in the 2008 election. Choose your riding and you’ll see it with every poll coloured according to the party that took it. The heavier the vote, the more intense the party colour. What’s more, you can click on a given poll and see exactly how many votes each candidate gained there.” To see the map, go to

TODAY’S POLL: The Montreal Gazette reports, “One poll last week gave the NDP 24 per cent support in the province, second only to the Bloc Quebecois and ahead of both the Conservatives and Liberals. But an Ipsos Reid poll for Postmedia News on Friday didn’t duplicate that result. It put the NDP at only 18 per cent in Quebec – not far behind the Tories (22 per cent) and the Grits (21 per cent), but behind nonetheless. …Winning over Quebecers is a priority and NDP leader Jack Layton started pumping resources into the province years ago, Mulcair says.”