Harper shows contempt for civic groups, increases fear of Conservative Government

    Conservative strategy to ignore policy questions from non-partisan groups
    increases mistrust among Canadians

    OTTAWA, Oct. 11 /CNW Telbec/ - The Conservative Party is the only party
to have not responded to a single one of the policy surveys sent to all
political parties by 20 prominent national organizations and associations in
this election, including the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian
Chamber of Commerce, and Canadian Federation of Students.
    "It's startling that someone running for Prime Minister of Canada thinks
he can just ignore serious questions from our country's top civic groups" said
Ricken Patel, Executive Director of the democratic advocacy group, Avaaz.ca.
"This fits with a pattern of contempt we've seen from this Prime Minister for
many elements of our democratic process"
    "Climate change is one area where Mr. Harper refuses to take questions.
And the reason is clear -- his plan is a fraud -- it just doesn't stand up to
any scrutiny."
    "Mr. Harper has described Canada to a room full of Bush Republicans as 'a
Euro welfare state in the worst sense of the word', and yet wants us to think
he's no longer a right wing ideologue" added Patel. "But if he refuses to even
answer questions about his agenda, he gives us no reason to trust him."
    "All these civic groups can conclude is that the Harper agenda remains
far out of step with mainstream Canadian values and principles."
    Below is a list of 20 organizations that have specifically asked each of
the parties a set of questions that directly relate to their concerns. Harper
and the Conservatives chose to ignore all of them. Each of the other national
parties provided answers.

    1.  Make Poverty History: Asked all 5 party leaders to respond to
        questions about their plans to reduce poverty nationally and
        internationally. All but Conservatives responded.


    2.  Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Interagency Coalition on AIDS and
        Development: Sent out a 7-question survey about how Canada should
        confront the AIDS epidemic at home and abroad. All but Conservatives


    3.  Canadian Medical Association: Asked all 5 parties to respond to
        questions about Canada's physician shortage, mental health issues,
        innovation and information technology, access to prescription drugs,
        health and the environment, and the sustainability of the health care
        system. All but Conservatives responded.


    4.  Canadian Conference of the Arts: Sent a list of questions concerning
        cultural policy, specifically dealing with each party's priorities
        for arts and culture funding, program creation or revision, advancing
        the socio-economic status of artists/ art professionals, and
        enhancing the production of Canadian art and culture at home and
        abroad. All but Conservatives responded.


    5.  Canadian Council for International Cooperation: Surveyed the five
        federal parties on what they would do to end global poverty and
        injustice. All but Conservatives responded.


    6.  Canadian Federation of Students: Questionnaire focused on post-
        secondary education funding, tuition fees, research grants,
        aboriginal funding and education, and access to information. All but
        Conservatives responded.


    7.  Canadian Firearms Institute: Survey focused on firearm related
        issues, firearm policies and the firearm registry. The Liberal Party
        and NDP responded. Conservative Party did not respond.


    8.  PIAC, CIPPIC, National Anti-Poverty Organization and other groups:
        Asked parties to respond to a survey about competition and


    9.  Canadian Chamber of Commerce: Sent the five major party leaders a
        questionnaire, asking each party to outline its plans to address key
        issues facing Canadian businesses. All but Conservatives responded.


    10. The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC): Asked
        parties to respond to a questionnaire on their commitment to higher
        education and university research. The NDP, Liberals and Greens
        responded. The Bloc and the Conservatives did not respond.


    11. Equiterre, EnJeu, Nature Québec, RNCREQ, Vivre en ville: Asked
        leaders a series of questions regarding environmental issues. All but
        Conservatives responded.


    12. Tomorrow Today Group of Canada's 11 largest environmental
        organizations: Asked parties to provide video responses to
        6 questions about environmental policy and climate change policy. All
        but Conservatives responded.


    13. Sierra Club and Greenpeace Canada: Asked parties to answer questions
        on a variety of environmental issues. All but Conservatives


    14. Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS): Produced an Election
        Primer sent to the 5 parties asking questions about promoting and
        protecting parks, public land and water, marine protected areas and
        land use projects. All but Conservatives responded.


    15. Directors Guild of Canada: Sent a list of questions concerning
        investment in film, TV and new media, increased access to markets,
        copyright, ownership, labor issues, and censorship to all 5 parties.
        All but Conservatives responded.

    16. PowerUP Canada: Asked parties to survey questions on steps the
        federal government could take to deploy technologies and stimulate
        market solutions to global warming. All but Conservatives responded.


    17. Canadian School Board Association: Association canadienne des


        All but Conservatives responded.

    18. Heart and Stroke Foundation: The foundation sent a survey to all
        parties to learn about their position on key issues that impact heart
        disease and stroke. Only Liberals + NDP responded. Conservatives did
        not respond.


    19. Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC): The group asked each
        party for its views on issues related to Canada's private copying
        regime. All but Conservatives responded.


    20. Canadian Federation of Independent Business:
        All parties were asked how they would respond to issues of importance
        to Canada's small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Subjects
        range from taxation and the environment to labour shortages and paper
        burden. All but Conservatives responded.


    About Avaaz Canada

    Avaaz is a new web-based democratic advocacy group that has grown in
18 months to over 300,000 supporters across Canada. Avaaz exposed and
challenged the Harper government's policy at the UN climate change summit in
Bali through sending hundreds of thousands of messages and funding a widely
publicized ad campaign.
    Avaaz Canada is part of Avaaz.org, a global web movement with a
democratic mission to close the gap between the world we have, and the world
most people everywhere want. At 3.4 million supporters, Avaaz.org is the
largest online activist community in the world and brings people-powered
politics to global decision-making. It is the latest chapter in new wave of
web-based, people-powered political movements that have profoundly impacted
countries from Australia to the US to the Philippines

For further information:

For further information: Kristen Ostling, (613) 222-2573,

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