Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Canada's Mayors Brace for Election

Paul Martin's government officially collapsed yesterday, paving the way for an election scheduled for January 23, 2006. While the issue of the Liberal party's corruption prompted the latest collapse of the minority government and "clean governance" promises to be a consistent campaign theme over the next few weeks, the mayors of Canada's largest cities are taking a proactive approach to make sure that urban interests are served by the next government.

One of Martin's accomplishments was the New Deal for Cities which funnels gas tax money back to cities for use on "sustainable infrastructure" projects--such as public transportation.

Most of the major cities have already signed agreements with the federal government to insure that the gas tax money continues to flow regardless of the party in charge. The mayors are broadening their view--in yesterday's meeting they agreed that the next government should provide them with a slice of the income and sales taxes, as well.

Whether that will happen is uncertain at this point. But it is a positive development that the New Deal will continue. Moderate environmentalists have welcomed it in light of Canada's continuing problems meeting its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol--a particularly embarrassing disclosure given this week's meeting in Montreal to discuss the post-Kyoto climate change agreements.