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ELECTION 2011: Where do the Liberals stand on the right to water?

Day 10

THE LIBERALS ON THE RIGHT TO WATER? On Saturday, the Liberals released their election platform. At their May 2009 convention in Vancouver, the Liberals passed a resolution stating they would, “enshrine water as a human right to ensure that all people living in Canada are legally entitled to safe, clean, drinking water and water for sanitation in sufficient quantities.” Is there any mention of that in their election platform, especially given Conservative opposition to it and now two United Nations resolutions this year making the right to water and sanitation legally binding and equal to all other human rights? No. To read the Liberal party platform on ‘A Canadian Freshwater Strategy’, you can go to http://www.liberal.ca/platform/clean-environment/stewardship/.

THE RIGHT TO WATER: The NDP has long supported the human right to water and sanitation. The Green Party’s platform states they will, “Protect the fundamental right to water for all Canadians today and in future generations by amending the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to enshrine the right of future Canadians to an ecological heritage that includes breathable air and drinkable water.” To read the Green Party platform on ‘Water protection and conservation’, go to http://greenparty.ca/node/13336.

HARPER OFFSIDE ON KEYSTONE PIPELINE: A New York Times editorial states that the Keystone XL pipeline that “would link the tar sands fields of northern Alberta to Texas refineries…poses a major threat to water supplies on both sides of the border. …Operations in Alberta have already created 65 square miles of toxic holding ponds, which kill migrating birds and pollute downstream watersheds, a serious matter for native communities. In the United States, the biggest potential problem is pipeline leaks. It would cross the Ogallala Aquifer, a shallow underground reservoir of enormous importance for agriculture that also provides drinking water for two million people. A pipeline leaking diluted bitumen into groundwater could have disastrous consequences.” The Conservatives back Keystone and Stephen Harper, when he was in Washington this past February for the signing of the perimeter security declaration, made a ‘personal pitch’ to US President Barack Obama to support it.

F-35 NOT NEEDED: The Vancouver Sun reports, “The Conservatives have shifted their public relations strategy on the controversial F-35, putting aside their previous arguments about the need for the stealth fighter to counter Russian aircraft in the Arctic, to focus now on the Libyan war as proof the multi-billion dollar jet purchase is required. In defending his governments plan to buy the fighter, already dogged by concerns over escalating costs, Harper pointed to the role of Canadas CF-18s in the Libyan war. …But U.S. defence specialist Winslow Wheeler said, if anything, the Libyan war shows that sophisticated high-tech stealth fighters like the F-35 are not required. He noted the U.S. did not use its F-22 new generation fighter — a counterpart to the F-35 — in the conflict. Instead, the majority of the attacks were carried out by non-stealth aircraft such as the existing F-18s used by Canada, he added.” The University of Toronto’s Brian Stewart writes, “The Libya campaign drives home an awkward historical point — that Canada has never used more than a handful of jet fighters in foreign conflicts and there’s no reason to suspect this will change in the coming decades. …Throughout the jet age, Canada has acquired more than 1,100 fighters, out of which only 48 have seen service in our five hot conflicts.”

CANADA HEALTH ACCORD: CTV reports, “The next round of health talks with the provinces will happen in 2014 and Layton says Canadians shouldn’t trust those negotiations to the Harper Conservatives. …Layton vowed to use the upcoming health-care talks as an opportunity to press for change.”

NUCLEAR POWER: Will the safety and consequences of nuclear power be raised during this election? The Ottawa Citizen reports, “Radiation monitors in Ontario, New Brunswick and British Columbia have detected minute traces of radioactive iodine suspected to be from Japan’s stricken Fukushima nuclear plant.” While the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission “stresses there are no health hazards to Canadians”, it does give one pause to consider the 10,000 kilometre distance between Fukushima and the Bruce Power nuclear plant near Owen Sound, where the radiation in Ontario was detected.

A ‘WARM AND FRIENDLY’ LEGISLATION KILLER: The Globe and Mail reports that, “(Conservative senator Marjory LeBreton is) now serving as senior adviser to Stephen Harper’s re-election campaign. …Ms. LeBreton is fiercely loyal to the political leaders she serves and a strong partisan. Still, she comes across as warm and friendly with none of the nastiness that surrounds some political operators.” But Gerald Caplan writes, “Last November, for the first time in 70 years, (the) Conservative-dominated Senate, without a hearing or debate, killed a climate-change bill that had been passed by a majority of elected MPs in the House of Commons. …Marjory LeBreton, Mr. Harper’s Senate Leader, airily dismissed the legislation as ‘a coalition bill’, some kind of conspiracy, apparently, of Liberals, socialists and separatists. …(And) Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime was introduced nearly seven year ago as a proud effort to help people dying of preventable diseases in poor countries.” It passed in the House of Commons 172-111, with 26 Conservatives voting in favour of it. But LeBreton stalled any hearing of this bill in the Senate and it died when the election was called.

GETTING FIT AT TIMS: On Friday, Harper served donuts to customers – including an adolescent boy – at a Tim Hortons in Dieppe, New Brunswick. On Sunday, CTV reports, “(He) promised to boost the children’s (fitness) credit from $500 to $1,000, a change also to be enacted once the government gets back to balanced books (in 2015).”

LOW VOTER TURNOUT EXPECTED: The Montreal Gazette reports, “More than 40 per cent of eligible Canadian adults didn’t bother voting in the last federal election — the lowest turnout since Confederation. And so far, there’s no evidence the May 2 vote will yield a better result. A recent poll found that 57 per cent of Canadian adults are “certain” to vote, says Darrell Bricker, CEO of public affairs for Ipsos Reid. He says the proportion of people who respond this way tends to correspond closely to actual turnout.”

LIBERALS NEED TO GET THEIR VOTE OUT: CTV reports, “(Ignatieff) needs to get the vote out. By their own party estimates, roughly one million Liberal voters didn’t bother casting a ballot last time around – a phenomenon largely blamed on apathy tied to Stephane Dion’s leadership woes. …(Nanos Research president Nik Nanos) suggested there are two reasons those million voters stayed home in 2008: they were disillusioned with the Liberal campaign and with Dion as a leader. And also, they felt confident Harper wouldn’t get a majority. This time around Harper has made it no secret he’s out for a majority government, his poll numbers are strong, and a majority government is within reach.”

KEY RIDINGS: CTV reports, “Ignatieff has already been courting the vote in Toronto’s suburbs, where the Conservatives and Liberals are fighting a ground war for votes in a number of competitive ridings. Vancouver’s suburbs represent a similar battlefield, and even ahead of the election call Ignatieff was courting the Chinese-Canadian vote in Conservative-held ridings in Richmond and West Vancouver. Pollster Nik Nanos said there aren’t enough seats to make Atlantic Canada a major priority for Ignatieff, Quebec is a Bloc stronghold where none of the other parties have much of a chance and the Prairies are dominated by the Conservatives. As a result, Nanos predicted, Ignatieff is likely going to focus on Ontario and B.C.”

WHERE THE LEADERS ARE TODAY: CBC reports, “The NDP is expected to release its Old Age Security and pension platform at an event in Toronto Monday morning. Leader Jack Layton is expected to make the announcement at 9 a.m. ET, followed by a rally in London, Ont., Monday evening. …Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is scheduled to kick the week off with a campaign event in Wainfleet, Ont., on Monday morning, followed by a rally in Guelph at 5:30 p.m. local time. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff will spend the day in Atlantic Canada, greeting commuters at a Halifax ferry terminal in the morning, followed by an announcement at the Westin Nova Scotian and a rally in St. John’s, N.L., Monday evening. …Green Party Leader Elizabeth May was scheduled to spend the day in British Columbia, starting with a news conference outside the CBC building in Victoria. May is then expected to meet constituents and campaign in Sidney, B.C., followed by a campaign office opening and canvassing in Saanich, a Victoria suburb. Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe has a busy schedule planned for Monday, including a photo shoot with local candidates at Parc nautique de Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. Duceppe is then scheduled to attend a photo shoot with union representatives for Bombardier 7, visit a local business on Rue Louis-Philippe Lebrun and pose for photos with the mayor of Riviere-du-Loup Monday evening.”

TODAY’S POLL: The Toronto Sun reports, “After one week of campaigning, the country’s voters appear lined up almost exactly as they did on voting day in 2008, a vote that produced a minority Conservative government led by Stephen Harper. A poll done by Leger Marketing exclusively for QMI Agency finds that as the second week of campaigning gets underway, the Conservatives still have a commanding lead over their nearest rivals but their momentum has slipped slightly compared to Leger’s pre-election poll. Meanwhile, Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals have edged up after Week 1 while support for other parties is at about the same spot is was before the election was called. …(And) compared to a Leger poll published March 26, and taken before the campaign got underway, Conservative support has dropped by two percentage points and Liberal support is up three percentage points. The big shift in the last week came in Ontario…where a 10-point Conservative lead has now been halved to five points.”