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Layton proposes a Belinda bill

[PoliticsWatch Updated 4:30 p.m. December 7, 2005]

MPs who cross the floor like Belinda Stronach will be more accountable to their constituents if Jack Layton has his way. 

OTTAWA  — Call it the Belinda bill.  

NDP leader Jack Layton specifically mentioned Liberal MP Belinda Stronach on Wednesday when he unveiled his party's new ethics package. 

Layton introduced a number of measures including a bill that would force MPs who cross the floor to join another party to have to face an automatic by-election. 

"We'll make MPs accountable to their electors when they switch parties," Layton said. "The next time Belinda Stronach decides to change leaders, she'll have to go back to a by-election to see if her voters agree," 

The NDP leader made the announcement on the steps of Place Guy-Favreau, where Justice John Gomery held the Montreal round of his inquiry into the sponsorship scandal. 

Stronach ran for the Conservative party leadership in 2004 and came in second. She narrowly won the riding of Newmarket-Aurora in the 2004 federal election for the Conservatives. 

In the spring, Stronach crossed the floor to join the Liberals days before Prime Minister Paul Martin was to hold a confidence vote in the House of Commons. Stronach's decision to cross the floor helped the Liberals win the vote by the narrowest of margins.

That vote was on a revised NDP budget bill put forward by Layton. 

Layton's ethics package also includes reforms for "taking power out of the hands of lobbyists" and "making key appointments on merit not political connections."

The announcement is completely new as it is based on a number of recommendations NDP Ed Broadbent recently made. 

Greens want CPP out of the Wal-Mart

The average person tends to buy at Wal-Mart during the holiday season, but the Green Party is proposing the Canada Pension Plan sell Wal-Mart. 

The party wants an advisory panel that invests a portion of the CPP to sell any shares it may own in Wal-Mart.

According to the Greens, the CPP held 322,000 shares in Wal-Mart as of March 31 of this year. 

The party is upset with the discount retailer's decision to close its store in Jonquiere, Quebec, in the spring, shortly after employees unionized. 

"If the CPP still owns these shares they have a responsibility to divest and send a strong message to all companies that our values as a community are more important than a single corporation's interests," Green Party leader Jim Harris said in front of the abandoned Wal-Mart store in Jonquiere on Tuesday. 

"Wal-Mart has a proven track record of insufficient sensitivities to the communities in which it operates."

Wal-Mart owns 235 stores employing more than 60,000 across Canada. 

Petitions continue to come in from communities across the country requesting Wal-Mart stores be built in their towns, according to Wal-Mart's Web site. 

Liberals headed for a majority … or are they?

The latest daily SES Research tracking poll shows the Liberals at 40 per cent support nationally, a number that would likely be good enough to put the party in position to win enough seats for a majority. 

It's the first election poll to put the governing party in majority territory. 

But another pollster doesn't think a Liberal majority is likely. 

Paul Seccaspina, president Oracle Research in Sudbury, Ontario, told the Northern Life, this week he believes the Conservatives -- not the Liberals -- will win a majority government on January 23. 

What's Seccaspina basing this on? 

"That's my gut feeling, although it's still too early to say," he told the Northern Life. "We could have a Conservative minority or a Liberal minority, but I'm going to go out on a limb and predict a slim Conservative majority."

"I'm going to make the prediction that I don't think the Harper team is going to make the gaffes...it did last time around. The cries of Paul Martin and the Liberals of how Stephen Harper may threaten national unity will not resonate this time. I think the Liberals are going to get slaughtered in Quebec."

Seccaspina correctly predicted a Liberal minority in 2004. 

While Seccaspina is predicting losses for the Liberals across the country, he predicted they will hold their two Sudbury-area seats, including Liberal MP Ray Bonin's seat in Nickel Belt, which is one of the ridings the NDP is targeting in this election. 

For the Conservatives to win a majority, they would have to pick up 57 seats, with about 40 of them coming from Ontario and the rest from the other provinces. 

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