Stop Harper Now, say Environmental, Labour, Arts, First Nations, Anti-Poverty Leaders

October 9, 2008, 5:00 PM EST


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Eight leaders representing diverse organizations joined together to convey the need to defeat the Stephen Harper Conservatives in the October 14th federal election.

Each of the eight delivered messages reflecting Harper's poor record on child poverty, First Nations issues, the environment, the economy and Canadian culture, while urging Canadians to recognize that they deserve better in a federal government. The press conference, which took place downtown Toronto, was moderated by journalist and best-selling author Linda McQuaig.

 Marvyn Novick, Professor Emeritus, Ryerson University and co-founder of the national anti-poverty group Campaign 2000 (http://www.campaign2000.ca/), emphasized the need to elect a government that will reflect Canadians' concerns about poverty, especially among children. "Four of the five federal parties are committed to poverty reduction. Mr. Harper stands alone in his indifference to the 800,000 Canadian children currently living in poverty."

Naomi Campbell, founding central committee member of The Department of Culture, a new grassroots group formed to promote the arts, (http://departmentofculture.ca/) said that the Harper Conservatives are out of sync with the majority of Canadians, who don't want to see Canada's cultural heritage destroyed.

Chief Isadore Day, Serpent River First Nation Chief and Huron Treaty Commissioner spoke about government inaction in addressing First Nations concerns, even following the historic apology on June 11. "Let me remind the Prime Minister and the Canadian public that real apologies are sustained by the acts of amending wrongs and efforts correcting wrong doing," said Day.

David Martin, Climate & Energy Coordinator, Greenpeace Canada (http://www.greenpeace.ca/) said that all parties with the exception of the Conservatives have adopted a Kyoto Plus platform which would see a 25 per cent reduction in green house gas emission levels.  "The United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen in December 2009 will make a historic decision on whether to strengthen and extend the Kyoto Protocol. Canada should be part of the solution, not part of the problem."

Alice Klein, Editor and CEO of Now Magazine and co-founder of strategic voting site http://www.voteforenvironment.ca/ said: "Harper's deceptive climate politics have aroused a new citizen's movement empowered by new 21st century tools like voteforenvironment.ca. The grassroots are not letting Harper's climate crisis denial go unanswered."

Ken Lewenza, National President of the Canadian Auto Workers union (http://www.caw.ca/) said that Canadians are worried about a future under another Harper government, which over the last two and a half years has demonstrated real callousness towards the Canadian people. "The crisis that economists are predicting is already here and has been for the last number of years in the country's manufacturing sector -working people, their families and communities are paying the price for the Harper Conservatives poor economic policies."

Garry Neil, Director, Council of Canadians (http://www.canadians.org/) spoke about the necessity of electing a government that negotiates trade deals that don't erode the quality of life for Canadians as well as domestic industry. "Stephen Harper can't be given a blank cheque to negotiate a sweeping new trade deal like he's now proposing with the European Union, which is based on NAFTA. And he can't be trusted to fix the grave errors in NAFTA either."  

Ricken Patel, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Avaaz (http://www.avaaz.ca/) (sponsor of the Stop Harper anthem performed by K-OS, Ed Robertson, Sarah Harmer and other artists) said that their recently released Stop Harper video and song is just one example of how Canadians are mobilizing to ensure Stephen Harper doesn't get a second mandate. "Canadians are shocked at the irresponsible record of Stephen Harper -we don't recognize our country under this leader."

The eight leaders also outlined their plans to mobilize an anti-Harper vote in the remaining days of the campaign, including in swing ridings.

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