Wins for Citizens 2011

May 6th, 2011

WINS  for Citizens    2011 (more info at www.canadians.org)

WIN! 75-day extension to Melancthon quarry comment period (April 27, 2011)

WIN! Winnipeg P3 contract made public, scaled back (April 27, 2011)

WIN! New Tecumseth passes CETA resolution (April 19, 2011)

WIN! Nova Scotia to conduct review on fracking (April 6, 2011)

WIN! No offers to be exchanged during April CETA talks (April 6, 2011)

WIN! P3 water project in Mission rejected (April 5, 2011)

WIN! Burnaby becomes a Blue Community (March 22, 2011)

WIN! Vermont water as a public trust law challenges quarry permit (March 3, 2011)

WIN! London rejects Nestle’s pressure to end bottled water ban (March 2, 2011)

WIN! Nestle-backed motion to end London bottled water ban fails, for now (February 16, 2011)

WIN! Inverness County council supports Nova Scotia-wide fracking ban (February 15, 2011)

WIN! Calgary city council votes against fluoridation of drinking water (February 9, 2011)

WIN! Kalahari Bushmen win right to water in Botswana court decision (January 27, 2011)

WIN! Appeal for gravel mine permit on Alberta aquifer denied (January 21, 2011)

WIN! PEI agrees to pursue more transparency on GM salmon proposal (January 13, 2011)


2010

WIN! New Westminster freeway connector blocked (December 31, 2010)

WIN! GE can’t assemble low-enriched uranium fuel bundles in Peterborough (December 23, 2010)

WIN! Moncton stops selling its drinking water for fracking (November 17, 2010)

WIN! Glacier Howser project derailed (November 16, 2010)

WIN! Moncton says no to fracking in Turtle Creek watershed (November 16, 2010)

WIN! Langley freeway connector turned down (November 16, 2010)

WIN! Harper government rejects the Prosperity Mine (November 2, 2010)

WIN! Harper agenda rejected by UN General Assembly (October 12, 2010)

WIN! UBCM calls for local exemption from CETA (October 1, 2010)

WIN! Red Deer County rejects gravel quarry on alluvial aquifer (September 21, 2010)

WIN! Millbrook, Ontario water diversion defeated (August 4, 2010)

WIN! Citizens for Quality Health Care prevent health care layoffs and closures (July 30, 2010)

WIN! UN General Assembly passes historic Human Right to Water and Sanitation resolution (July 28, 2010)

WIN! Site 41 finally finished (May 25, 2010)

WIN! C-311 passed by the House of Commons (May 7, 2010)

WIN! WIN! Winnipeg rules out private ownership of new water-sewer utility (May 6, 2010)

WIN! Peterborough to phase out bottled water in city facilities (May 5, 2010)

WIN! Nova Scotia bans bottled water in provincial buildings (April 30, 2010)

WIN! CETA resolution passed by Trail, Burnaby and North Vancouver councils (April 30, 2010)

WIN! Duncan city council backs climate change motion (March 31, 2010)

WIN! Public sewage treatment in Victoria (March 31, 2010)

WIN! NB Power sale scrapped! (March 24, 2010)

WIN! Kamloops chapter helps stop incinerator (March 19, 2010)

WIN! Parents vote down water vending machine at Toronto school (March 15, 2010)

WIN! Public pressure leads to hearings on Canada-US procurement deal (March 12, 2010)

WIN! Bute hydro project delayed in British Columbia (March 12, 2010)

WIN! NB Power deal delayed for nearly two months (February 26, 2010)

WIN! Publicly-owned Seymour Capilano water treatment plant opens (January 30, 2010)

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Friends,
The 2011 federal election was historic in many ways and most of us are still trying to process the outcome. It is crucial that we pause to reflect on its meaning and think carefully about the next steps we must take.

While it is true that the remarkable surge in support for the NDP means a more dependable progressive voice in the House of Commons than we have had for years, it is equally true that the most socially and economically right-wing government perhaps in Canadian history has just won a substantial majority in the House and – along with their control of the Senate – is now free to implement its agenda even if every member of every other party votes against it.

The Harper Conservatives are now free to:

- cut corporate taxes and transfer payments;

- go after public services, public sector workers and public pensions;

- allow the growth of private health services to undermine Medicare in the lead-up to the expiry of the Canada Health Accord in 2014;

- vigorously promote more unregulated free trade agreements like the Canada–European Union CETA, that will drastically curtail the democratic rights of local governments to promote local economic development, local resource sovereignty, or local food production;

- kill the Canadian Wheat Board;

- fast track the security perimeter deal with the United States that will violate the civil liberties of Canadians and give away crucial pieces of our sovereignty;

- kill the long-gun registry;

- continue to decimate environmental regulations, under fund source water protection, promote dirty energy projects such as the tar sands, gas fracking and Arctic oil and gas drilling, while ignoring the rights of nature;

- and spend our money on military equipment and prisons we don’t need and don’t want.

This means we at the Council of Canadians and civil society in general have our work cut out for us as never before.

However, there are important signs of hope. The Harper Conservatives do not have the support of the majority of Canadians. Almost 40% of eligible Canadian voters did not cast a ballot in the election and of those who did, fully 60% voted for parties other than the Conservatives. This means that over two-thirds of Canadians who were eligible to vote did not cast a vote for the Harper agenda.

As well, the presence of an opposition with a clear progressive agenda on trade, social and environmental justice and public services will create the opportunity for unparalleled (until now) collaboration between Members of Parliament and progressive civil society. While we have had good working relationships with some Liberal MPs on some issues, how frustrating it was to see the Liberals side with the Conservatives on signing trade deals with corrupt and criminal regimes in Peru and Colombia. Further, the election of the first Green Party member, Elizabeth May, will open the door for an environmental debate and dialogue too long missing from the House of Commons.

And, as Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew reminds us, we have fought battles against both majority and minority governments before and won. Unfair deals such as the Multilateral Agreement on Investment and the Security and Prosperity Partnership were defeated by popular protest. Unfair trade deals are fought and won outside Parliament, in the court of public opinion, he points out. It was also public pressure that stopped Canadian troops from being sent to Iraq. Similarly, no matter how much Stephen Harper dislikes public health care (and is on record in his preference for private health services), he can go only so far in his dismantling of Medicare, so deeply loved and fiercely protected is this most important of Canadian social programs. And let Harper try to open the doors for commercial export of our water and see how far he gets!

In other words, this country and its values still belongs to the people. As our director of development, Jamian Logue, says, “Neither our democratic responsibilities nor our democratic opportunities ended on May 2. Democracy is a 24/7 pursuit. We have the right and responsibility to act beyond the ballot box.”

What is needed now is a coming together of progressive forces in civil society and the labour movement as never before in our country’s history. Social and trade justice groups, First Nations people, labour unions, women, environmentalists, faith-based organizations, the cultural community, farmers, public health care coalitions, front line public sector workers, and many others must come together to protect and promote the values that the majority of Canadians hold dear. And we must work with, and demand the active representation of, the opposition forces in the House of Commons. In particular, the NDP must oppose the Harper agenda with the full weight of its new power and the Liberals must redeem themselves by working alongside the NDP in defending the interests of the people of Canada.

As the old union saying goes, “Don’t mourn – organize!”. The Harper majority is unfortunately really due to our “first past the post” system. (An American friend writes that he and his colleagues are having trouble understanding how Stephen Harper is Prime Minister with way less than half the votes in Canada. This reminds us of the urgency to promote proportional representation.)

But support for the Harper agenda is paper-thin, as most Canadians do not share the values of this agenda. This then is our task: to work hard over the next four years to protect the laws, rights and services that generations of Canadians have fought for from being dismantled; fight the corporate-friendly, anti-environmental, security obsessed agenda that will come at us; and prepare the way for the kind of government in four years that does in fact, express the will of the people – one with an agenda of justice and respect, of care for the earth, of the more equitable sharing of our incredible bounty.

This will be hard work and will take a great deal of courage and commitment.  But really, what more important thing do we have to do?

Maude Barlow

Chairperson

The Council of Canadians
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The results are in and Conservative leader Stephen Harper has secured a majority government. In the House of Commons, the NDP – which nearly tripled its seat count – will undoubtedly play a significant role as the Official Opposition. And civil society organizations like the Council of Canadians will need to rise to this new challenge and play a critical role in mobilizing public opinion and community action as the extra-parliamentary opposition. While Harper acted in an authoritarian way with his previous minority governments and may see his new majority government as an end to the constraints on his power, democracy does not work that way and he will not have free reign until the next election, likely in October 2015.

THE RESULTS: Here is the new seat count in the House of Commons compared to the last sitting: Conservatives 167 (143), NDP 102 (36), Liberals 34 (77), Bloc Quebecois 4 (47), Green 1 (0). CTV reports, “(The Liberals now) fall into third place for the first time in the party’s storied history. …Equally stunning is the ascent of NDP Leader Jack Layton, who will make history by becoming the first-ever NDP leader to move into Stornaway as official Opposition leader.”

THE POPULAR VOTE: The Conservatives won 39 per cent of the vote, the NDP 31 per cent, the Liberals 19 per cent, and the Bloc Quebecois 6 per cent. The Conservatives won 5.8 million votes, the NDP 4.5 million, and the Liberals 2.8 million votes.

WHAT HAPPENED: “Much of the NDP’s rise has been attributed to a burst of support in Quebec, while the Conservatives were able to breach the Liberal heartland in Toronto (and) voters in Ontario ran from the Liberals to Harper’s Conservatives en masse. Many gains came in the so-called 905 region, where the Conservatives made major inroads with new Canadians.”

THE HARPER AGENDA: The Globe and Mail reports, “Stephen Harper will put this new-found authority to immediate use. …(A majority government) gives him four years to pursue his policies as he sees fit without having to shelve long-term plans every few months in case his rivals might defeat him. …He will be able to schedule government spending cuts over four years… it may also give him leeway to cut payments to provinces if his promise to keep health transfers rising at 6 per cent annually puts too much pressure on Ottawa’s coffers… say goodbye to the long-gun registry and $2-per-vote subsidies for political parties… And get ready for term limits on senators and greater foreign ownership of companies that offer telecom services such as cellphones. …The Tories will also be tempted to kill the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly over selling Western Canadian grain…”

OUR CAMPAIGNS: A Conservative majority will also pursue as they have promised the Canada-European Union free trade agreement at ‘full-throttle’, seek to complete negotiations with the United States on perimeter security, and likely continue to ignore the funding needed for a clean-up of the Great Lakes, for upgrades to municipal water and wastewater infrastructure, and for clean drinking water in First Nations. The government will also prioritize new jet fighters over action on climate change, and will continue to seek an expansion of the tar sands, as well as likely fracking, oil and gas exploration in the Arctic, and Schedule 2 exemptions for mining companies. As noted above, the six per cent increase in health care funding past the 2014 negotiations for the Canada Health Accord is now in question.

THE OPPOSITION IN PARLIAMENT: The Leader of the Official Opposition-to be Jack Layton said last night, “I’ve always favoured proposition over opposition. But we will oppose the government when it’s off track. I will propose constructive solutions focused on helping Canadians.”

NOTABLE LOSSES: Those who lost their seats election night include: Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe, foreign minister Lawrence Cannon, Liberals Martha Hall Findlay, Gerrard Kennedy, Ujjal Dosanjh, and Ken Dryden, NDP Tony Martin, and Independent Helena Guergis. NDP candidate Nettie Wiebe lost her bid in Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar by just over 500 votes.

NOTABLE WINS: New additions to the House include: Green party leader Elizabeth May, and New Democrats Peggy Nash and Andrew Cash.

RETURNING INCUMBENTS: Notable returning incumbents include Conservatives: John Baird, Bev Oda, Peter Van Loan, Peter Kent, and Gerald Keddy; the New Democrats Linda Duncan and Peter Julian; and Liberals Frank Valeriote, Francis Scarpaleggia and Justin Trudeau. Also Conservative Dick Harris who represents the riding where Fish Lake is located; Conservative Tony Clement who represents the riding where the G20 took place last summer; asbestos-promoting Conservative Christian Paradis; and Liberal Scott Andrews who represents the riding where Sandy Pond is located.

NDP/LIBERAL MERGER? Metro reports, “Bob Rae, the former NDP premier of Ontario and a federal Liberal leadership contender, hinted strongly that the time has come to debate a potential merger between Liberals and New Democrats.”

VOTER TURNOUT: The Canadian Press reports, “The Tory majority appears to have been won on the back of a low voter turnout. An incomplete Elections Canada report early Tuesday said that 60 per cent of eligible Canadians had voted. …Canadians registered a record low turnout of 59 per cent in the federal campaign three years ago.” Another Canadian Press report has the voter turnout at 56 per cent. A final number should be available later today or sometime this week.

THE 2015 ELECTION: Now that Harper has his majority, under his fixed election date law Canada will next go to the polls in October 2015. Between now and then we’ll need to think outside the (ballot) box, rise to the challenge, and continue to fight for the Canada we want.

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