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Election in Canada

A fascinating overview of the Canadian election and the major issues there, for anyone who’s interested…

Big Issues:

Economy: Our banks aren’t collapsing, but Canada is seeing a great deal of economic change. High oil prices have driven up the Canadian dollar, which has hurt the manufacturing base in Ontario and Quebec. Jobs are drifting west to Alberta and Saskatchewan to work in the oil patch. The main stock exchange in Toronto has seen similar sized drops as the US indicies since the crisis began.

Environment: Dion has done a bold/risky/foolish thing by putting the Liberals behind an ambitious carbon tax plan called the “Green Shift” which involves taxing carbon, while promising to drop income and other taxes in a revenue neutral way. This has the backing of most environmental groups and plenty of prominent economists as a solid way to reduce carbon emissions. Up side is, he can now answer critics who complain the Liberals got Canada into Kyoto but did nothing to actually meet its commitments. Down side is the Conservatives have done about what you’d expect conservatives to do with any tax plan while avoiding much discussion over their agenda.

Afghanistan: Canada has lost 97 soldiers in Afghanistan since 2002. We have about 2000 soldiers there, currently stationed in the volatile Kandahar region. They moved there from a much safer mission in Kabul in 2004. It has played out a lot like the US in Iraq. The Conservatives were all for staying indefinitely, the Liberals wanted a defined end date and the NDP, BQ and Greens want out immediately. Public opinion has turned against staying and the public opposed the Liberal/Conservative agreement to extend the mission to 2011. Harper recently promised that really would be the end, that he would not seek to extend the combat mission past that point. However in intensity, it is not clear this issue is driving all that many votes. Canadians mostly feel Canada is suffering too much and the rest of NATO other than the US is doing too little. Canadians want a negotiated peace with the Taliban and fearmongering about “negotiating with terrorists” is not very effective here.

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