The election: What issues are important to you, what are being missed?

On Cross Country Checkup: the election

The campaign has been going for a week now and despite a few spending promises, issues have been trumped by jostling over leaders' debates, coalitions, and trustworthiness.

What issues are important to you, what are being missed?

With host Rex Murphy.


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The general election campaign has been going for more than a week now ...and we want to check in and see how you think it's going.

There has been a lot of talk about whether a coalition should be an option. Tere's been debate over the leaders debate: who belongs in it ..and who should faceoff. And there's been some jostling over how much the parties should be funded by taxpayers.

Now, there have also been daily announcements on social policy and tax policy ...the meat of politics. But those announcements seem to have generated little excitement leading some observers say this election is not about policy ...its about leadership ...who do you want running the country.

What about the other important issues, such as, what are we doing in Libya? What happened to the concerns about green policy and climate change? Healthcare is always tops the list of Canadians' concerns in almost every poll ...but it is not an issue in this campaign. Should it be? Should we also be talking about the other issues too?

An election is often a horse race. It is sometimes a clash of ideas ...and sometimes its just a clash about who gets to call the shots. This time we've got a variety of ideas but most of the energy seems to come from the attempts to gain moral or partisan advantage.

We want to know what you think about this election campaign far. Do you like what you hear? Do you want more talk about issues? Are some things being missed? Or can it all be boiled down to who do you want running the country?

Our question today: "The election: What issues are important to you ...and what's being missed?"

I'm Rex Murphy ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius satellite radio channel 137 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.


  • Rob Russo
    Ottawa Bureau Chief, Canadian Press.

  • Ed Roberts
    Ed Roberts was a member of the Newfoundland House of Assembly for 23 years and served as the province's Lt. Governor from 2002 to 2008.

  • André Pratte
    Chief Editorial Writer for La Presse newspaper.

  • Janice MacKinnon
    Former finance minister of Saskatchewan and now professor of history and public policy at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

  • Lydia Miljan
    Associate Professor of political science at University of Windsor. Co-author of several books including Hidden Agendas: How Journalists Influence the News. And the author of Public Policy in Canada, (5th ed. Toronto: Oxford University Press).


National Post

Globe and Mail


Chronicle Herald


It seems to me that the environment is the huge elephant in the room. This issue trumps everything yet it is so far being ignored. Is the only way to have a voice for environmental issues to vote for the Green Party and hope we get an elected few to parliament? The other leaders lack the backbone to tackle the colossal changes that need to happen in order to give future generations a habitable planet.

Gail Jewell

One topic missing from the debate seems to be the PMO. Harper has grown the PMO, and centralized our democracy, almost creating a single executive with an irrelevant Parliament. I question why the opposition parties are not making this an issue.

Bruce Balson
Prince George, British Columbia

What is most important to me is the state of our democracy. In particular, what information gets shared with Canadians and who's voices get heard? This has a direct impact on other issues especially as the annual deficit gets reduced by 25% a year. What programs or issues might be negatively impacted such as health care, the environment, and women's issues? What trade deals will be made that reward corporations while destroying our ability to protect Canadian resources and interests, and what will continue to not be addressed (i.e. poverty and homelessness, aboriginal issues, a lack of affordable housing)? This is what matters to me.
Keith Lanthier
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

I'm listening carefully for a party who promises something that pertains to my particular life. I am not a veteran. I am not a firefighter. I have children, none of whom require daycare or are going to university. I am not going to university. I am not a traditional homeowner although I do own my own home (a boat). I am not living in a rural area. I am not a corporation.

Many promises, none of which speak to me.

I am part of the working poor doing my best to plan and save for retirement. I am not so poor that I will likely qualify for GIS for a number of years due to my husband's and my saving for retirement. However, my husband may not be able to afford to retire when he reaches 65 next October. Neither of us have company pensions.

I am listening for policies speaking to regular pensions. Also relevant is the cost of prescription drugs.


Judy Brooks
Victoria, British Columbia


It's a travesty that a political party such as the Greens, who have candidates in every riding and have garnered nearly as many votes as the Bloc in the last election, have been shut out of the televised debates. How can anyone pretend that this is acceptable, particularly in a campaign boasting many policies containing energy and conservation as their theme? We have nothing to lose by including Ms. May, and everything to gain.
Thank You,
Andrew Monahan,
Glen Huron, Ontario

Dear Rex,

You asked for opinions on the issues in the election. I am disappointed that the Conservative party has, so far, been allowed by the press to ignore the fact that they demonstrated a disdain for democratic principles so strong and overt that they lost the confidence of Parliament. Instead of asking Mr. Harper why he won't take more questions, please ask him questions about moral and ethical values in Canadian life. Those should trump the normal issues of education, health, etc.


Paul Harrison
Vancouver, British Columbia

Mr. Murphy is right that the limited use of military air resources should have been discussed more. However, he is exaggerating our exposure, and his dismissal of the Bev Oda affair is unfortunate. It is a serious issue when a Minister deliberately and repeatedly lies to Parliament. Her mismanagement of the official record  of a government decision was a secondary issue.

David Laughton
Edmonton, Alberta

Why is there no coverage of the shortage of NDP and Liberal candidates in the West, when we are almost a quarter of the way through the campaign? At this emailing, the Liberals have posted on their web site only 17 candidates for 28 ridings in Alberta. They're also short in BC. The NDP don't make it easy to count their candidates on their web site, but I found no candidate for Calgary Centre-North. Why did the media even interview Mr. Ignatieff about the Sebastien Togneneri (in my riding) affair when he hasn't even announced a candidate here, yet?

Peter Brandon
Edmonton, Alberta

Hi Rex,

Let us bring the issue of the youth vote into this discussion. An election is called to achieve change in govt, surely the youth of Canada could have a big impact on this. That is if they are motivated to get out and vote. We indeed saw this in the US election.

Thanks for the opportunity to contribute,

Tina Jones
Gabriola Island, British Columbia

In my opinion, the most important issue is the environment, specifically Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline project. This project would see a pipeline carrying tarsands oil to Kitimat, crossing hundreds of rivers and streams on the way. Some of the largest tankers in the world would be on Canada's west coast on an almost daily basis.

Enbridge has admitted that oil spills are inevitable. We risk losing our tourism and fisheries industries, as well as the First Nations' way of life. As we have seen in the past, there is never enough money to cover the cost of cleanup so we, as taxpayers, will end up paying. Only shareholders stand to reap the benefits.

Big oil and gas companies are Mr. Harper's strongest supporters and I fear that their money for advertising will sway the election. If Mr. Harper gets a majority, we can say goodbye to our environment. He will have to repay his benefactors.

M. Ouwehand
Kitimat, British Columbia

Dear Rex,

This is the most important election in Canadian history. Steven Harper's goal is to become governor of the fifty- first state. If he gets a majority the country will be gone.

R. C. Cameron
Victoria, British Columbia

I am really concerned about Harper's limiting questions during his campaign to five per day, four of these being by reporters on the campaign, and only one question allowed from a local reported. He also ignores questions he doesn't like. Where is the openness and accountability he promised? I am appalled that so many Canadians aren't bothered by this. What's he trying to hide and what will happen to Canada if he gets a majority?

Diane Kristensen
London, Ontario

Here's my beef: I am sick of hearing the same old media song about the Liberals and Conservatives. Which fella has his slippery hand on the top of the bat today. We just attended a large, spirited, loud, enthusiastic rally for the NDP in Dartmouth yesterday. Their policies are for genuine improvement of the lives of those of us who need improvement. Media coverage: nearly nil. They seem to want impossible promises rather than reasonable, doable improvements to our lives. Jack Layton has seniors, veterans, the young, the needy in his plans. Worse than useless bunch. Vote them out!

Emily Levy-Purdy
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Two crucial issues that need to be addressed in this election are how to build and sustain an economy based on less throughput of resources and how to lessen the wealth inequality across the entire spectrum of the population. Our addiction to ever-increasing consumption and the resulting beggar-thy-neighbour outcome will soon dissipate both the material and social foundations of our society if they are allowed to continue not only unchecked, but actively encouraged by the "open for business" platitudes so often heard from government. Only equality can build the necessary solidarity needed for Canadians to feel like they're part of a country again and not just a collection of individuals and interest groups.

Tim Nickel
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

As a young Canadian, democratic reform and a clear vision for Canada, not just in the next five years but in the next 25, 50 and 100 years are the things foremost on my mind in this election. I find myself continually disappointed by the level of discourse.

The flyers sent out by my local MP Dean Del Mastro, covering the governments 'successes' are a perfect example of propaganda hiding behind the mask of communication. The poor quality is not only in substance (large pictures and large print with buzz words) but in thoughtfulness; for Remembrance day a one paragraph flyer was obviously not even proof read, as the word 'mourn' had accidentally been replaced with 'moron'. This seems endemic of our politicians.
In recent years the quality of discussion has reached what seems like an all time low, and not just between politicians, but between the politicians and the public they are supposed to represent. This has done more than its fair share to create apathy among voters and has done nothing to improve the quality of people headed into politics. After all, what kind of people are we going to get to lead, if they are continually berated by name calling not only in the house of commons, but in paid advertising? Who is going to choose that as a career? Adults should be able to have a discussion without resorting to screaming matches that ignore all substance.

Sincerely, a very disappointed Canadian,

Oliver Strong
Peterborough, Ontario

If the Liberals were smart, they'd hire someone to produce some parody ads. Most people I've spoken with think the current Conservative ads already sound like parodies of American-style campaign ads. Lampooning them would, I think, win a lot of support among Canadians.

Michael Brooks
Victoria, British Columbia

I must agree with the female caller who stated that we women represent over 50 percent of the population. However, it seems that most of our politicians are not interested in women's issues.  While it has been recognized that many women are struggling to live in poverty, nobody seems to care to provide support. We hear of child poverty quite frequently. Has nobody made the connection between child poverty and women's poverty?  Most of the children living in poverty belong to single-parent families headed by women.

In my riding, we had a woman serve as an MP for many years, but she was never selected by the Prime Minister for a portfolio.  It definitely seems an old boys club to me.  While the Old boys club has finally accepted a few members of racialized communities, it seems women are still excluded.

I do hope Elizabeth May and the Green Party do better in the upcoming election. I am also fed up with the mud-slinging being used in the ads. Integrity and honour are much more important to me. I lost confidence in Mr. Harper when I learned about his decision to prorogue parliament I recognized that act as the fellow who didn't like playing by the rules and took his ball home. He seems to not be a team player.

Debbie Baker
Brampton, Ontario

Hi Rex,

My issue is The Debate. In the last election, when Ms. May was (finally) allowed to participate, I was waffling between Liberal and NDP. Greens were those flakey people who were too far out to be real. Boy, was I wrong. That woman impressed the hell out of me. She refused to allow misstatements or gross generalities go by. She had the information at her fingertips and in a firm yet respectful manner corrected the others as appropriate.

So I changed my vote. I decided to support the Green Party. And I will continue to. If anything, my determination is strengthened by the way she has been treated by the other leaders. I can understand that they're afraid of her, but really...all of them?

And I'm incredibly disappointed by the cabal of media (and especially CBC/RC) who voted unanimously to exclude her.
Her party got almost a million votes last election. That's a lot of people who's opinions are being deemed not worthy of exposure.

And in answer to all those who think environmental issues are going to be job killers, I got an email today from a company I've dealt with in the past, that installs solar hot water. Four years ago, there was the owner and two others. Today, he has 14 employees and is looking to hire more!

In summary, all I can do it echo the call of the Saskatchewan Rough Riders' fans: Go Green!

Roger Priddle
Perkinsfield, Ontario

On the subject of Negative campaigning or attack ads, every time I mention to anyone that we need to be rid of Stephen Harper someone will always say to me, "Well you don't mean I should vote for Michael Ignatief?" It would appear that the Conservative attack ads are working. People are hearing the message and not paying attention to were it is coming from. I mentioned to one person recently that we are voting for the party with the leader who will be the best prime minister, not for someone you are going to have a beer with. It doesn't matter if you like him as a person or not.

Stephen Harper is a bully who is very good at turning all the other kids in the playground against the person he is targeting.  We don't tolerate this in our schools how can we tolerate this in out highest democratic positions.

Darryl Birch
Meaford, Ontario

Sorry to ask the obvious, but why is voting limited to a single day? Seems to me that if we were really to serve the concept of Democracy (especially in an era of voter apathy) that it would be best to extend voting over several days, making it as accessible as possible.

Ron Simon
Montreal, Quebec

Hi Rex,

I love your show. I am very sad for Canadian politics. We are supposed to have a democratic society here, but I find it hardly democratic when I feel that I cannot vote for the party I wish to vote for. Because of the way our voting system works, I feel that if I vote for my preferred  party, I also, by default, vote for the party I dislike the most. I feel that instead I am being forced to vote for the lesser of two evils. What kind of a democracy is that?

Kate Lind
Golden, British Columbia

We are not hearing about the loss of Canada's stature in the world due to the aggressive, U.S.-imitating policies of the Harper government. In addition, climate change and the dangers of the continuing major presence of nuclear weapons are game-changing, planet-threatening issues of our time. Somehow it is okay for all parties to omit discussing their policies while we sleep-walk into major changes in our way of life.

Adele Buckley
Toronto, Ontario

My issue in this election that is not being addressed is the lack of democracy in this country and the need for parliamentary reform. We spend a good deal of taxes to send these people to Ottawa only to watch them bicker. The PMO gleans more and more power unto itself so that even if the bickerers could say something enlightening it would no doubt be sabotaged by maneuvers in the PMO. We need ethical candidates from all the parties, including the Green Party, to commit themselves to this issue and to be given a voice in our media (which, by the way our taxes pay for in the case of the CBC). I am really disappointed with the coverage by the CBC. You should be embracing the opportunities to hear all the points of view of candidates including Elizabeth May. You are a very important factor in this so-called democracy.

Maureen Karagianis
Gabriola, British Columbia

I am concerned about the apathy among Canadians regarding the issues of trust and integrity vis a vis the Conservative party. Only five questions at a time? This is very disturbing to me as a Canadian. I read a recent article from Australia which indicates thats Canada's democracy is at stake. Also, I think on an international basis our integrity and history as a peace keeping nation has been compromised. Also, I believe that our policy re environmental issues have been following the American's lead. I cannot trust this current government and I am concerned that they possibly could get a majority.

Susan McVarish
Winnipeg, Manitoba

I don't care anymore, I am tired of elected members of Parliament doing what ever they want with no accountability. This is unacceptable. They are hired and work for us, they are supposed to look out for our best interests  and this just doesn't happen. I can recall a week before the budget came down, two Liberal MPs from this area saying they would oppose it. Please, at least make it look like you would read it first. Shame on the Liberal leader, shame on the Prime Minister as well for baiting them to force an election. I think the MP's should pay for this election, I think these elected officials who serve at OUR pleasure should start earning their pay and serving the people who elected them. I think we need more Bill Casey's who actually do what they are paid to do and actually show some moral fortitude and look after the people who elect them. You want an election, then you pay for it.

Ray Collins
Moncton NB

Hi Rex,

I have an issue that seems to be missing here, that is the fact the the Conservatives had been found to be in contempt of Parliament. I wonder how it is that they are allowed to be running? Perhaps the legal watchdogs can comment on this, as it seem to me that this contempt is akin to being in contempt of court or  some parliamentary 
equivalent of perjury.

Keep up the good work.

Lily Popoff
Trail, British Columbia

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