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Canada's costly election: Could $600M have been spent elsewhere? – CTV News

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EDMONTON —
With an estimated record-setting price tag of $610 million, the 2021 election is the most expensive in Canadian history — at a cost of about $100 million more than the 2019 election.

After all of that spending resulted in little change politically, many are asking whether it was worth the money and where else those hundreds of millions of dollars could have been directed.

Indigenous organizations have criticized the election as being “unnecessary,” suggesting the money could have been better spent on clean drinking water initiatives, reconciliation projects, and mental health initiatives.

Child-care advocates have similarly suggested that the funds could have been used to propel the Liberals’ $10-a-day child-care promise. And many Canadians have spoken out, wishing the money had instead been spent on pandemic recovery.

Experts say that it’s not quite that clear-cut, as governments don’t have a set amount of money in their pot each year – and some say you can’t put a price on democracy, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

Ian Lee, associate professor at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business, says it’s important to first understand that government budgets don’t operate like your run-of-the-mill household budget.

“Governments don’t have a ‘fixed, rigidly financed, precise’ amount of money in their pot each year. They roughly know revenues come in and expenditures go out. Sometimes they’re a little short and they just have a deficit, and then they print the money because that’s what governments do,” Lee told CTVNews.ca by phone Thursday.

“Budgeting, unlike for the average consumer, is not a zero-sum game – consumers, if they don’t have the money for something, you’re just out of luck. You don’t buy it. Governments don’t face that dilemma, especially the federal government.”

In other words, just because a certain amount of money million was spent on the election, that doesn’t mean there is the same amount less to spend on something else.

But as for the principle of calling a pricey election during the fourth wave of a pandemic, experts are split.

“For me – it is true that anytime the government spends money it could be spent elsewhere and the point of elections is to judge the government on how they spent money and the decisions they made,” Michael Johns, visiting professor in the Department of Politics at York University, told CTVNews.ca by email Thursday.

“There are far too many examples of things that could be funded and are not and other things that are spent that are problems.”

But Johns says he is uncomfortable with the idea that spending money on an election should be considered an issue, suggesting that those upset with the timing of the election should have reflected such in their ballot.

“There would have been an election a year ago if the opposition had been successful in voting out the government on a matter of confidence; there would have been one in probably a year if it had not been triggered now due to the nature of minority governments,” he explained

“Either way the act of voting and having our preferences registered matters and costs money. People could judge the government on its timing and vote accordingly but we should be very careful when we start making decisions about holding elections based on their cost.”

Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch, a non-profit citizen group advocating democratic reform, has a different view, saying the money spent on the election could have been spent on “anything else.”

“The prime minister decided to hold an election even though 327 MPs voted against holding the election at the end of May,” Conacher told CTVNews.ca by phone Thursday.

“And he knew in calling an election that Elections Canada would have a right to spend any money it needed to run it, which ended up being more than usual because of the costs of, for example, buying one pencil for everybody.”

As for what that money could have been spent on instead, Conacher says the government should make those decisions based on what the large majority of the country needs – like health-care solutions during a pandemic.

“In terms of where the $600 million could be spent, there’s many areas where the health of Canadians is at risk or where Canadians want money spent – pharmacare, child care – the polls show the large majority want those in place,” he said.

Lee disagrees that it has to be one or the other, saying that “you cannot make the argument that because they spend $600 million on the election, that therefore some other spending item will be cut by $600 million.”

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Former U.S. President Clinton leaves hospital, will return to New York

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Former U.S. President Bill Clinton walked out of a Southern California hospital on Sunday after being admitted last week for a Urological Infection, live video showed.

Clinton, 75, will return to New York and remain on antibiotics, Dr. Alpesh Amin, who had been overseeing his care at the hospital, said in a statement released by Clinton’s spokesman. His fever and white blood cell count have normalized, Amin added.

The former president had been in California for an event for his foundation and was treated at the University of California Irvine Medical Center’s intensive care unit after suffering from fatigue and being admitted on Tuesday.

He left the medical center accompanied by his wife, former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

The two-term president, who has had previous heart problems, held the White House from 1993 to 2001.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey, Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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China condemns U.S., Canada for sending warships through Taiwan Strait

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The  Chinese military on Sunday condemned the United States and Canada for each sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait last week, saying they were threatening peace and stability in the region.

China claims democratically-ruled Taiwan as its own territory, and has mounted repeated air force missions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over the past year, provoking anger in Taipei.

China sent around 150 aircraft into the zone over a four-day period beginning on Oct. 1 in a further heightening of tension between Beijing and Taipei that has sparked concern internationally.

The U.S. military said the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey sailed through the narrow waterway that separates Taiwan from its giant neighbour China along with the Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg on Thursday and Friday.

“Dewey’s and Winnipeg’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” it added.

China’s People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command said its forces monitored the ships and “stood guard” throughout their passage.

“The United States and Canada colluded to provoke and stir up trouble… seriously jeopardising peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait,” it said.

“Taiwan is part of Chinese territory. Theatre forces always maintain a high level of alert and resolutely counter all threats and provocations.”

U.S. Navy Ships have been transiting the strait roughly monthly, to the anger of Beijing, which has accused Washington of stoking regional tensions. U.S. allies occasionally also send ships through the strait, including Britain https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/british-frigate-sails-through-taiwan-strait-2021-09-27last month.

While tensions across the Taiwan Strait have risen, there has been no shooting and Chinese aircraft have not entered Taiwanese air space, concentrating their activity in the southwestern part of the ADIZ.

While including Taiwanese territorial air space, the ADIZ encompasses a broader area that Taiwan monitors and patrols that acts to give it more time to respond to any threats.

Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Sunday that three Chinese aircraft – two J-16 fighters and an anti-submarine aircraft – flew into the ADIZ again.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo in Beijing, Ben Blanchard in Taipei and Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Pravin Char and John

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No end in sight to volcanic eruption on Spain’s La Palma – Canaries president

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There’s no immediate end in sight to the  volcanic eruption that has caused chaos on the Spanish isle of La Palma since it began about a month ago, the president of the Canary Islands said on Sunday.

There were 42 seismic movements on the island on Sunday, the largest of which measured 4.3, according to the Spanish National Geographical Institute.

“There are no signs that an end of the eruption is imminent even though this is the greatest desire of everyone,” President Angel Víctor Torres said at a Socialist party conference in Valencia, citing the view of scientists.

Streams of lava have laid waste to more than 742 hectares (1833 acres) of land and destroyed almost 2,000 buildings on La Palma since the volcano started erupting on Sept. 19.

About 7,000 people have been evacuated from their homes on the island, which has about 83,000 inhabitants and forms part of the Canary Islands archipelago off northwestern Africa.

Airline Binter said it had cancelled all its flights to La Palma on Sunday because of ash from the volcano.

“Due to the current situation of the ash cloud, operations with La Palma will continue to be paralyzed throughout today. We continue to evaluate the situation,” the airline tweeted.

Almost half – 22 out of 38 – of all flights to the island on Sunday have been cancelled, state airport operator Aena said, but the airport there remains open.

(Reporting by Graham Keeley; Editing by Pravin Char)

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