Mount Royal off to the polls again
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 31 mars 2011
It’s that time again, one all too familiar to Canadian voters. On May 2 Mount Royal residents will be going to the polls for the fourth time in seven years. It promises to be a horse race as the Conservatives strive to capture seats in Montreal, a bulwark of Liberal support.
Mount Royal is one such riding that they hope to win. Traditionally a Liberal bastion, it is represented by Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, a prominent human rights advocate and former attorney general of Canada.
He will be facing-off against high-profile challenger Saulie Zajdel for the Conservatives. Zajdel, a former veteran city councillor for more than 20 years, represented the districts of Victoria and Darlington.
Also in the running is Jeff Itcush for the NDP, a history teacher and chief negotiator for the teachers of the Federation of Jewish Schools. He helped found Projet Montréal and ran as its candidate in the NDG district in 2005.
All three men have strong ties to the Jewish community and could split the vote which accounts for 36% of eligible voters in the riding. Historically, Jewish voters have backed the Liberals, but foreign policy regarding Israel could prove to be a wedge issue in this campaign.
Gabriel Dumais will be throwing his hat into the ring for the Bloc Québecois. A student in international studies at the Université de Montréal, he plans to study law when he graduates and is running to give voters a choice.
Cotler said that this election is going to be about values and ethics as much as about the economy or anything else. This is the first time in Canadian history that a majority of MPs voted that the government was in contempt of Parliament.
The Harper government didn’t provide parliamentarians with the necessary information to vote on the budget, he said.
Cotler thinks that the question of the budget should be framed in terms of comparative needs. For example, the budget envelope for stealth jets was a thousand times greater than the entire budget for education.
Saulie Zajdel said that he will be a hands-on representative, there to serve all of the riding’s residents. He is in the process of setting up meetings with the cities and boroughs, with a view to assessing the riding’s needs and to develop projects.
He plans to emphasize Stephen Harper’s strong track record on Israel over the last five years and what he calls the Conservative leader’s “great affinity” for the Jewish people. Zajdel said that while the non-confidence vote may have been constitutionally valid, it wasn’t practically necessary.
For his part, Jeff Itcush will be stressing youth employment and educational opportunities. He would like to see employment incentives that are environmentally friendly. For example, warehouses are often laid out on an antiquated energy model that isn’t energy-efficient. Many businesses could be retrofitted, providing much needed jobs for unemployed youths from disadvantaged communities.
[ Deborah Rankin ]