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January 14, 2010

The Globe and Mail reports that, "Stephen Harper’s Conservatives would lose 33 seats if an election were held today and only maintain a tenuous hold on minority government, according to a new EKOS poll."

"The EKOS data is consistent with two polls released yesterday showing the Tories and Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals effectively tied for support and that Canadians are displeased with Mr. Harper’s decision to prorogue Parliament."

"If an election were held today, (EKOS) says, the Tories would have only 112 seats compared to the 145 they have now. ...(EKOS) has the Ignatieff team winning 107 seats compared to the 77 seats they have now. ...The NDP would win 33 seats, down from the 37 they have now. And the Bloc Quebecois would win five more seats, going to 53 from 48 seats."

The Council of Canadians is opposed to Stephen Harper’s prorogation of Parliament and believes that parliamentarians should be back at work on Monday January 25.

January 14, 2010

The CBC reports that, "Ottawa will face structural budget deficits well into the future even after the Canadian economy returns to normal levels of expansion, suggests a report from the Parliamentary Budget Office. ...The PBO is an independent body, mandated to provide independent analysis on the state of the country's finances, government estimates and trends in the national economy."

"A structural deficit describes a portion of a country's budget deficit that exists even when the economy is running at full capacity during a period of expansion. ...A structural deficit happens when the shortfall between income and spending becomes systemic and normally requires deliberate action — typically either tax increases or spending cuts — to rectify."

"The government has thus far insisted that a return to balanced budgets can be achieved without raising taxes or significantly cutting program spending, instead relying on basic economic expansion."

"(The PBO's) analysis suggests that the numbers do not, at this point, lead to a balanced budget unless the economy starts performing well above normal historical capacity."

January 14, 2010

As you have all read by now, a massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake has struck Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

It is not known at this point how many people have been killed, but tens of thousands are feared dead and casualties could be in the hundreds of thousands.

The devastation has meant a lack of access to drinking water and basic sanitation services, many areas without electricity, and collapsed hospitals.

The Canadian government is responding with emergency aid, and many non-governmental organizations - including Oxfam, Médecins Sans Frontières and avaaz.org - are collecting donations.

Along with this critical immediate assistance, attention is also turning to the long-term development needs of Haiti and how our response now sets part of that course.

Our thoughts are with the Haitian people and with the more than 100,000 Haitian-Canadians.

January 13, 2010

Winnipeg Free Press columnist Bartley Kives writes that, "Early in the new year, the city will settle on a strategic partner ...to replace its water-and-waste department with an arm's-length corporation that would be responsible for completing the city's expensive sewage upgrades, waste-water treatment and water distribution, and garbage collection."

The strategic partner will either be CH2m Hill, Veolia, or Black & Veatch.

For background on this, please see 'ACTION ALERT: Defer decision on commercialization of Winnipeg's water utility' at www.canadians.org/action/2009/09-July-09.html and the 'Municipal Corporate Utility for Winnipeg's Water and Waste: Lessons from Elsewhere' report by Maude Barlow and Meera Karunananthan at www.canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=1533.

January 13, 2010

The Canwest News Service reports that, "Nearly seven months ago, Herb Gray watched as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, Lawrence Cannon, met halfway across the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls and ...pledged to redraft and bolster a decades-old treaty aimed at protecting the Great Lakes from environmental harm."

The Council of Canadians commented on that pledge in a campaign blog at www.canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=769.

"This week, on the eve of Gray's departure (on Thursday) after eight years as Canadian chairman of the International Joint Commission that oversees transboundary waters, he expressed frustration that the 'very fine words' spoken by Clinton and Cannon at the bridge ceremony in June had not yet led to the launch of formal negotiations between the two countries to modernize and strengthen the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement."

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