The predictions of a spring 2008 election were off by two seasons. The election was called on last Sunday when Prime Minister Stephen Harper went to visit Governor General Michaëlle Jean at Rideau Hall. Voters will be going to the polls on October 14th. In preparation for the call Harper lost thirty pounds, made sure all the ridings were ready and called a by-election for September 22 for four ridings.
The issues during this election, according to the pollsters, are economics, environment and health. The reason for the early election call, instead of the mandatory period Harper legislated, is that Harper wants the election over with before the Canadian economy, which follows the United States economy, gets worse.
Last week when the by-elections were still the only game in town, the Liberals were sending in their heavy guns to help out their rookie candidate Rob Oliphant in the riding of Don Valley West, home to many Estonians. First Bob Rae pitched in, then Michael Ignatieff.
Bob Rae spoke to the ethnic media on August 28. Rae referred to the situation in Georgia as "troubling." He added, "I remember after I went to Lithuania (to monitor the elections) in 1990 I also went to Moscow and the people there were convinced that (the Baltics, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Ukraine) will soon be back in the fold because they simply cannot survive without Russia. Soviet and now Russian control over the media greatly restrict the peoples' knowledge." Rae also spoke about Red China and the difference between it and South Africa.
Michael Ignatieff paid a visit to the riding the Friday before the writ for the general election was dropped, likely then the last Liberal "star". "I've been to Estonia and Canada historically has been a supporter of the Baltic States and Baltic freedom matters to our party. We do not want to see what has begun in Georgia to spread to the Baltics. That is, the Baltic States have under NATO a guarantee of sovereignty. We must be absolutely sure that the sovereignty of the Baltic States is respected, we have no reason to believe that the Russians would be so foolish as to call into question the post cold war settlement, which clearly states that the Baltic States’ freedom will never be challenged or threatened. We know that the Baltic States have significant Russian populations, their rights must be respected, and their rights are respected in the constitutions of these states. Therefore there are no grounds for an outside power to intervene on their behalf. Baltic freedom matters not only to citizens of Baltic extraction but matters to Canada's sense of how the world should work," said Ignatieff.
Oliphant added, "I have spoken to some Estonians and Latvians in Don Mills and they seem to be more concerned about trade and commercial, entrepreneurial links to Europe and seniors issues. The seniors are interested about affordable housing and younger ones about how they can take advantage of trade and European commerce."
Contact the candidates for their foreign policy views on Georgia as well as the Baltics.
Rob Oliphant (L) 33 Laird Dr., 416-421-6515 www.roboliphant.ca
John Carmichael (C) 49 the Donway West,416-444-3336 www.johncarmichael.ca
Dr. Georgina Wilcox (G) 82 Laird Dr., 416-449-7913
David Sparrow (NDP) 747 Don Mills Rd., Ste 23A 416-696-1439
Federal election on October 14th