News that Osama bin Laden is dead brings Americans one major step closer to bringing democracy to the Middle East and, today, Canadians head to the polls to exercise our democratic right to vote.

There are many political implications to this news but in terms of business, it looks like Osama’s death may be helping to revive the American economy:

“President Barack Obama’s announcement that the man who inspired the deadly Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States had been killed in an operation by special forces in Pakistan, prompted an increase in investors’ appetite for risk. That usually benefits assets like stocks but dents widely-considered financial safe havens, such as gold.”  http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2011/05/02/business-markets-binladen.html

The Canadian Dollar is firm at $105.22 US, but that may be subject to a quick change.


For the Federal Canadian Election happening today, here are 41 Things About the Election to help you place your vote. Get out and vote! 

Toronto Star National Affairs Reporters
1. “Hit the road Jack” took on a whole new meaning. Early on, NDP Leader Jack Layton joined reporters at the back of his campaign plane for an impromptu jam session. He strummed and crooned about “NDP blues.” Kinda captured the mood of the campaign at the outset. Not anymore.
2. -23 C. The temperature in Yellowknife, N.W.T., the most northern stop of this campaign, where both Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and Conservative leader Stephen Harper visited on April 18. Layton made his own visit this week.
3. Best prop — not a blue book or a red book or an orange book or a green book, but Layton’s crutch, which was traded in for a cane. It was a weapon he wielded with humour: “Mr. Harper, if it hadn’t been for him (Ignatieff) supporting you all this time, I’d have to be lending you my crutch.” Then the cane became a metaphor for Layton’s growing strength. He waved it joyously to partisan crowds and in televised ads and pledged to “win this fight.”
4. “Rise up,” Ignatieff’s refrain at the mid-point of the campaign. Ignatieff said he was borrowing the line from Bruce Springsteen’s tune “The Rising,” but the “rise up” chorus is actually part of another song, “My City of Ruins.” It turned out to be metaphorically apt that there was some confusion between rising and ruin for the Liberal leader.
5. Techno trash talk: “Harper is a Commodore 64 in an iPad world . . . thinks an app is something you order before dinner,” Layton said during one Toronto stop. “Hashtag fail,” the NDP leader also declared of Harper’s crime policies.
6. 2,056,001 voters embarrass pundits who were muttering about “a disengaged” electorate by turning up in droves at advance polls.
7. One — the number of times the Conservatives penned in reporters with a bright yellow fence. After the party took criticism for the tactic at the Halifax docks, the fence never appeared again.
8. Conception Bay South, Nfld., the place where Harper got asked about federal funding for Planned Parenthood and his views on abortion. He did not visit Cupids, Heart’s Desire or Virgin Cove.
9. Weapons of mass distraction. If this election bored you, there were plenty of other things to think about: the royal wedding, tax-filing deadlines, exam season for students, Easter, Passover, hockey playoffs and, of course, Harper’s birthday on April 30.
10. Past tense, future conditional: a lot of the early election disputes involved time travel, backwards and forwards — revisiting the nature of the 2004 co-operation deal among Harper, Layton and Duceppe, or examining many of the Conservatives’ promises (income-splitting), which won’t be implemented until the budget is balanced several years from now.
11. Mobs and rules: comedian Rick Mercer exhorted students to vote, students responded with lively rallies called “vote mobs.” The first such mob was held at the University of Guelph, where Conservatives later complained, after a campus scuffle, that a special ballot box was against the rules. Elections Canada allowed the ballots but ended the practice of special ballot sites.
12. Two thumbs up for religious freedom, not so much for freedom of the press. At a Conservative event in Mississauga to highlight a promised office of religious freedom, the crowd shouted down a CBC journalist trying to question Harper. Harper did nothing to deter his partisan supporters.
13. The RCMP waded into the election campaign — not to announce an investigation, as they did (notoriously) in 2005-06, but to announce that they would not be acting as bouncers or crowd-control staff for Conservative rallies.
14. The RCMP waded into the election campaign, part two. No, not to announce an investigation, but to let former Conservative cabinet minister Helena Guergis know exactly why the PMO blew the whistle and bounced her from caucus. Guergis, in a tearful press conference, exposed the baseless allegations, denounced Harper and introduced reporters to her new baby.
15. The auditor general waded into the election campaign. A sneak peek at Sheila Fraser’s report on G8 summit spending — which suggested the government acted improperly in approving $50 million to be spent in Muskoka — landed like a bombshell mid-campaign but then fizzled like a wet firecracker.
16. Lying, liars, lies. On the opening day of the campaign, three leaders — Harper, Ignatieff and Duceppe — traded rather blunt accusations of lying. The one who couched his complaints in safer language (“no credibility” said Layton) enjoyed a “surge” in the final days of the campaign. Coincidence? Maybe not.
17. Canada’s Constitution took a beating in the campaign. Constitutional experts rushed to its defence and denounced how Harper was demonizing minority and coalition governments in campaign rhetoric. Layton and Duceppe reminded Quebec that its signature still wasn’t on the document. That made Ignatieff and Harper accuse Layton of trying to reopen the Constitution, which no one wants. Only in Canada — a law of the land that dare not speak its name.
18. Green Party leader Elizabeth May, who was not allowed in the TV debates, was not the attraction in this campaign that she was in 2008. Were the Greens perplexed/annoyed by this? But of course.
19. Celebrities on the campaign trail: Singer Nelly Furtado stumped with May, Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar invited Harper to his Brampton film premiere. Montreal band Arcade Fire took a contrarian stance, using its star power to urge votes against Harper.
20. Facebook got some face time, with leaders racing to build followers’ lists, partisans releasing videos through the social network sites, and, more ominously, at least one student getting expelled from a Conservative rally because her Facebook profile included a picture of her with Ignatieff.
21. It was revealed that Harper’s favourite card game isn’t Texas hold ’em poker, it’s cribbage.
22. Alcohol: what May gave up for Lent. This was revealed at the launch of her campaign, which was held at a winery in Saanich, B.C.
23. “Very ethnic” — Conservatives flirted with controversy and possible insults to the so-called “ethnic vote” in the campaign, with Harper referring to them as “you people” at one rally and an organizer asking people to show up in “ethnic costume” at an Etobicoke event a couple of weeks later. But Harper shrugged off the controversies.
24. Harper once bought wife Laureen a power drill for Christmas. “I asked for a drill,” she said during one campaign stop. “That was a good thing. I wanted a drill.”
25. The Twitter election, with Canadians tweeting like mad about politics under the hashtag #elxn41. Social media analyst Mark Blevis tracked the top five issues of conversation on the fast-moving medium. They were, in descending order: taxes, Harper’s question limit for reporters, coalition, Conservative screening of rally attendees and health care.
26. Don’t “if” Ignatieff. The Liberal leader spent lots of time fending off hypothetical questions — would he form a coalition to oust another Conservative minority government, or what would he do if Layton’s NDP formed the official opposition. He tried quoting former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, who Ignatieff said never answered a question that started with the word “if.” Later, he tried a different tack when asked about the possibility of an NDP official opposition. “If my aunt had a lower voice, would she be my uncle,” Ignatieff said. Memories of the old saw used by Jean Chrétien, who answered hypothetical queries with: “If my grandmother had wheels, she would be a bus.”
27. Running on “fun in the sun.” Two long-shot NDP candidates made news for heading south during the campaign instead of door-knocking. The NDP candidate in Ajax-Pickering was reportedly at an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean, while a Quebec candidate spent the first part of the campaign working at a student bar three hours away from her riding and then took off to Las Vegas. Layton stood by their decisions to keep their previously booked trips and blamed it on the lack of fixed-date elections.
28. “Big eyes” —that’s what Quebec City “trash radio” was calling Gilles Duceppe as hosts continued to disparage the Bloc.
29. There’s a tie for the Most Pithy Law-and-Order Quote. Ignatieff, who in the past did social work with convicts on a weekly basis, said this about the Tories’ plan to spend billions on new mega-prisons: “I’ve never seen a prison that didn’t make people worse.” Or Layton: “I don’t know why we need more prisons when the crooks are so happy in the Senate.”
30. A request from the great beyond: when Toronto resident John Bolan died at the age of 78, his obituary had a message for mourners: “In lieu of flowers, please vote LIBERAL.”
31. Sovereignty — the theme that sovereignist Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe decided not to include in his campaign at its outset.
32. Sovereignty, part two — the theme that Duceppe relied on almost exclusively in the campaign’s last week, as his party hemorrhaged support
33. Conservatives in contempt — of fruit. Each time the Tory campaign plane lifts off into the air, staffers roll a piece of fruit (orange, apple, cantaloupe, watermelon) from the front of the plane to the rear of the aircraft, where they’ve erected a miniature hockey net.
34. Most eligible bachelors on Parliament Hill? That would be Conservatives Jason Kenney and Brad Trost, according to a Saskatchewan pro-life organizer. That dubious honour was delivered before Trost delivered a politically damaging anti-abortion speech on April 16 in which he talked about the need to keep pressuring Harper to roll back women’s right to choose.
35. The campaign plane nicknames, as bestowed by the travelling press: NDP “Hipster Air,” the Conservatives’ “ScaremongAir,” the Liberals “Unnecessair.”
36. 82 per cent: the highest margin of win in 2008 by any candidate in the 308 ridings. Conservative candidate Kevin Sorenson, who is up for re-election in the Alberta riding of Crowfoot, won by more than 10 times the nearest votes of his closest competitor — 39,342 that year versus 3,783 votes won by NDP candidate Ellen Parker, who is running again.
37. No spinning — the Liberals may have broken new ground in this election by ordering their staff on Ignatieff’s plane not to badger the accompanying media with “spin” meant to reinforce his message or influence the day-to-day coverage. It made for a pleasant, relaxed relationship between reporters and Ignatieff’s handlers. But it remains to be seen if it paid any dividends.
38. The first zinger of the televised debates came early, in the first one-on-one exchange between Duceppe and Harper. “I would like first like to congratulate Mr. Harper for answering a question from a citizen for the first time in this campaign,” Duceppe said, a jab at Harper’s bubble campaign.
39. Conservatives kept a rolling list of just 30 ridings they believed were at risk of being lost or could be snatched from other parties. So focused were they on this list of key seats that, according to one party official, the party eschewed national opinion polls in favour of more targeted surveys.
40. Showing up: Layton slammed Ignatieff for not showing up at Commons votes. Political rivals slammed Conservatives for not showing up at all-candidates debates. Harper didn’t show up at the Toronto Star‘s editorial board. Youth voters showed up in vote mobs. Who will show up on voting day?
41. Magic number for a majority in the 308-seat House of Commons: 155.

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