Day 12 (26 days remaining)
YOUTH BLOCKED FROM HARPER’S SPEECH: CBC reports, “Conservatives threw two university students out of a Conservative rally in London, Ont. on the weekend. Awish Aslam, a second-year political science student at the University of Western Ontario, told CBC News she and a friend were trying to attend a Sunday rally with Harper when they were asked to leave by a RCMP officer. Aslam said they were led to the lobby where the officer told them they were no longer welcome because they had ties to the Liberal party. Aslam said her only connection to the Liberals was her Facebook profile photo showing her and Ignatieff together at a recent Liberal rally in London. Aslam said she wanted to hear directly from all the main party leaders and had also attended a rally with NDP Leader Jack Layton. She said she had to pre-register for the Conservative event Sunday, which is how the party had her name.”
HARPER TRIES TO EXPLAIN: The Globe and Mail reports, “(Harper) begged off explaining the incidents, saying he leaves the operations of rallies and events to Conservative Party workers. ‘The staff runs our campaigns and I can’t comment on individual matters like that,’ he said. The Conservative Party is tightly controlling access to Mr. Harper during the campaign. Those attending his rallies must pre-register and then produce identification at the door. He is not doing any door knocking or main-streeting where he might meet voters who don’t support him.”
AND CARSON? Jack Layton said, “It’s certainly quite a dichotomy that someone with a Facebook picture that bothers the Conservatives isn’t allowed close to the Prime Minister but someone who is a convicted fraudster who is trying to profiteer on the backs of first nations who desperately need clean water, this kind of person is allowed to have the closest access. I think it says something about Stephen Harper and his administration and it isn’t pretty.” The Vancouver Sun reports, “Ignatieff said Harper should not be doing background checks on the audiences at public events. He noted that Harper had failed to screen a top adviser, Bruce Carson, who joined the Prime Minister’s Office despite having five fraud convictions.”
CANCUN ACTIVIST STOPPED: CTV reports, “Joanna MacDonald, a fourth-year environmental sciences student at Guelph, said she too was barred after she pre-registered for the event. But after arriving she was told she was flagged and had to leave. ‘It was very bizarre to be on the flagged list but have no one there to tell you why you were on the list,’ MacDonald, 21, told The Canadian Press. She said she was told the RCMP did the screening for the event, and wondered why she was flagged if she had no record. MacDonald said she was told it was likely because she participated in the Sierra youth coalition on climate change at the Cancun conference last December. She said she has no party affiliation and has not been involved in politics. ‘I was just really curious about what Stephen Harper has to say,’ MacDonald said. ‘He’s the prime minister of Canada, so I’d like to ask questions.'”
OTHERS STOPPED: The Halifax Chronicle-Herald reports, “Dartmouth volunteer who helps homeless veterans was turned away from a Stephen Harper election rally last week and the man calls it a slap in the face to those who have been injured in service of their country. Jim Lowther of the Veterans Emergency Transition Team said he is apolitical but will stand with anyone who promises to help the people he helps: former Canadian Forces members who find themselves living on the street, often as a result of psychological disorders caused by their service. Lowther has been trying to set up a meeting with Harper to seek help for veterans but has been rebuffed. On Thursday, he and fellow veterans advocate Gary Zwicker went to the Halterm container pier on the Halifax waterfront hoping to get a few minutes with Harper, or at least to watch his speech. But a Conservative staffer in a suit and tie denied them entry at the gate.” In Guelph, a group of students sang O Canada outside a Harper campaign event and yelled ‘surprise, youth are voting’. The Guelph Record reports, “Several of the peaceful mob participants had registered to attend the Harper event, but they were turned away by RCMP officers. Cara Dawson and Izzy Hirji were among those asked to leave the venue. A Conservative Party of Canada official approached them and indicated they were not welcome because of their involvement in an action that was perceived as a protest by party insiders. Dawson and Hirji tried to explain that it was not a protest and that they had registered to attend the campaign event, but the official could not be persuaded.”
UNDER COVER OF A FEDERAL ELECTION: European Union trade negotiators will be in Ottawa April 11-15 to continue trade talks with the provinces and federal government on the Canada-EU free trade agreement. The deal on the table will have a considerable impact on jobs, farmers, municipalities, public services, and democratic governance. It will shape what future governments can and cannot do to guide economic development, create jobs and protect the environment. On Monday April 11 from 12 noon to 1:30 pm, the Trade Justice Network (which includes the Council of Canadians) and EU-based Seattle to Brussels network will hold a public forum on what we can do collectively to contest the agreement. Speakers include Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew, CUPE campaigner Carol Ferguson, Catherine Caron of ATTAC Quebec, Teresa Healy of the Canadian Labour Congress, and Brussels-based activist Marc Maes. The forum takes place in the PSAC Boardroom at 233 Gilmour in Ottawa.
RED DEER CHAPTER: The Red Deer Advocate reports, “A forum will be held at Golden Circle on April 28 from 1:30 to 4 p.m., organized by Council of Canadians, Friends of Medicare and Central Alberta Council on Aging. Each candidate will respond to questions prepared by the organizers at the afternoon forum. If there is time, questions may be taken from the audience. Golden Circle is located at 4620 47A Ave. Westerner Park is located at 4847A 19th St.” All-candidates debates organized with Council of Canadians participation are being listed at http://canadians.org/events/.
OTTAWA-CENTRE DEBATE: The Polaris Institute and the Centretown United Church are organizing an all-candidates debate for Ottawa-Centre on April 20. Questions will be asked by the Polaris Institute, Citizens for Public Justice and the Council of Canadians. The question posed by Council campaigner Emma Lui will be on water policy. More soon on this.
OAK RIDGES-MARKHAM CANDIDATES ON NAFTA: When asked, ‘Has Canada benefited from NAFTA?’, Conservative MP Paul Calandra said, “Absolutely, an overwhelming success for Canadians.”; Green Trifon Haitas said, “As of yet, it has not proven to be, because our growth has not been as much as did before NAFTA.”; NDP Janice Hagan said, “I think it’s been a benefit in some ways for some people, but overall, I don’t think so. We need an economy that rewards businesses for making jobs here.”; Liberal Lui Temelkovski said, “Yes, I believe so. I’m a free-trader, as long as it works for Canada.” Conservative leader Stephen Harper will be in this riding this morning.
ELECTION MATERIALS COMING! By Friday, the Council of Canadians will have posted to www.canadians.org its ‘Voter’s Toolkit’ that includes: Vote for Democracy, an election leaflet; questions for candidates; downloadable window signs; tips on how to organize an all-candidates meeting; and a voting FAQ.
LIBERAL WATER POLICY: Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui critiques the recently unveiled Liberal Party water policy – noting national water policy, bulk water exports, water and wastewater infrastructure, and what’s missing (water is a human right, CETA, Schedule 2). Her blog is at http://canadians.org/waterblog/?p=194.
HIGHWAY 5 PROTEST: The Wakefield LowDown reports, “Former Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion (spoke) to a group of protesters outside the La Peche municipal hall in Masham, Quebec, just outside of Wakefield April 4. The former environment minister came to the rally in support of Pontiac candidate Cindy Duncan McMillan and her commitment to protect the Gatineau River. Over 150 people from across La Peche turned out to the march to express outrage over a lack of government transparency with projects such as the light industrial park, the extension of Hwy 5, and a regional septic treatment facility.” The riding of Pontiac – which includes the Valle Verde aquifer threatened by the Highway 5 expansion – is currently held by Conservative MP (and foreign minister) Lawrence Cannon, a proponent of the highway expansion.
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: email@example.com.”
DIS-MAY-ED: CBC reports, “A Federal Court judge will not hear the Green Party’s arguments before next week’s televised debates, he ruled Tuesday. The party is fighting to have leader Elizabeth May included in the federal leaders’ debates. May’s response via Twitter was swift: ‘Justice denied. Consortium said there is no time to change format Is this about democracy or convenience?’ she said.” After the ruling, May told the Globe and Mail: “I want the other leaders to step up and demonstrate that they believe in the principles and the practice of a healthy democracy by telling the consortium that there will be no debate without me.”
CANADA’S TAKE ON AUSTERITY MEASURES IN THE UK: James Wright was appointed Canada’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom by the Harper government. The UK newspaper The Scotsman reported earlier this year that, “(Wright) said Canada’s experience of cutting its deficit through austerity measures which saw 50,000 civil servants lose their jobs in the 1990s has seen the country enjoy a budget surplus for the past 11 years which has helped it pay down its debt.” Does this imply Wright is expressing Canada’s support for Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron’s ‘big society’ austerity measures? It sure sounds like it. Those measures have targeted almost every area of government spending, seek to cut hundreds of thousands of public-sector jobs, and have prompted ongoing protests, including more than 400,000 marching in London on March 26.
CUPE ELECTION PAGE: Our friends at the Canadian Union of Public Employees have just launched their election page. Check that out at : http://cupe.ca/cupe-action.
AFN: For election priorities and questions from the Assembly of First Nations, go to http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/news-media/current-issues/2011-federal-election-first-nations-count-our-communities-our-nations-our.
CEASEFIRE: CBC reports, “Winslow Wheeler, of the Centre for Defence Information in Washington, told a press conference on Parliament Hill that ‘nobody on this earth’ is going to end up paying $75 million per jet by the time the planes, currently in production, are fully tested and developed. The cost will be more in the neighbourhood of $148 million, he said. The F-35 purchase, the biggest military procurement in Canada’s history, has been an ongoing source of contention and is a key campaign issue. …’This airplane is nothing to write home about,’ said Wheeler, who was speaking later Tuesday morning at an event organized by an Ottawa think tank, the Rideau Institute.”
BOAT TO GAZA: The Canadian Boat to Gaza organizers state that, “Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has now threatened to ‘act firmly’ using ‘force’ against the flotilla in May. The Canadian Boat to Gaza is calling on all of the federal parties to denounce these threats against Canadians by Israel, which has demonstrated its willingness to use lethal force against civilians, similar to its fatal attack on last year’s freedom flotilla.” The United Nations has stated, “Israel (should) heed the repeated calls of the international community to end its counterproductive and unacceptable blockade of Gaza.’” Amnesty International Canada has stated, “It is imperative that Israel lifts the blockade of Gaza without delay, as it is a form of collective punishment in contravention of international law and primarily affects the most vulnerable among the population.”
VOTE FOR THE GREAT LAKES: The Harper government’s federal budget in March 2010 allocated a mere $8 million a year for the clean-up of the Great Lakes. That’s about $2 million for each of the four Great Lakes that border Canadian provinces (Lake Michigan is entirely within the United States). In June 2010, the Harper government spent $2 million on the ‘fake lake’ for the one-day G20 summit in Toronto. In other words, in 2010, the Harper government budgeted as much for cleaning up Lake Ontario as they spent on the fake lake. Go to http://canadians.org to vote on this question, “Do you think more money should be spent on cleaning up each of the Great Lakes than was spent on building the G20 Fake Lake in Toronto?” The vote tally so far – 142 yes, 3 no, 3 don’t know.
WHERE THE LEADERS ARE TODAY: The Globe and Mail reports, “Stephen Harper starts his day in Markham, Ont., campaigning in the riding of Oak Ridges-Markham to help shore up support for incumbent Conservative Paul Calandra. The Conservative leader makes an announcement at manufacturer Novo Plastics in Markham. On Wednesday night, Mr. Harper attends a riding for Tory candidates across the Greater Toronto Area. It’s taking place in the riding of Ajax-Pickering, where Tory candidate Chris Alexander is trying to unseat incumbent Liberal Mark Holland. Michael Ignatieff, the Liberal leader, is touring the Eastern Townships Wednesday. After walking up in Premier Jean Charest’s Sherbrooke riding, the Liberal campaign heads to Compton, where Mr. Ignatieff visits an agricultural co-op, then on to Orford for a photo op. He ends the day with a rally in Brossard, a riding held by Liberal MP Alexandra Mendes, who is in a tight race with her Bloc opponent. NDP Leader Jack Layton is in Prince George, B.C., where his party hopes to make gains at the expense of the Conservatives. Long-time Conservative Jay Hill won in 2008 with more that 60 per cent of the vote. But Mr. Hill has retired and the NDP, who came second last time, hope his departure improves their chances. Mr. Layton will make a policy announcement in Prince George in the morning and then will fly to Cranbrook, B.C., for a rally with supporters in the evening. Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe will be in the Gaspésie on Wednesday, spending the first half of the day on the mainland dealing with fisheries issues, before flying over to the Magdalene Islands for an early evening rally.”
TODAY’S POLL: The Globe and Mail reports, “The Liberals appear to have enjoyed a platform bump, as a daily tracking poll shows them nibbling into the Conservatives’ commanding lead. Tuesday morning’s edition of the three-day rolling Nanos Research tracking poll conducted for The Globe and Mail and CTV shows the Liberals up about 2 percentage points to 30.2 per cent, now less than 10 points behind the Conservatives at 39.8 per cent. The NDP is at 16.5 per cent. Outside the West, the Conservatives and Liberals are now statistically tied, with Michael Ignatieff’s team winning back ground in the province with the most seats – Ontario.