June 1, 2014 11:00 am

Transcript: Episode 39, June 1

THE WEST BLOCK

Episode 39, Season 3

Sunday, June 1, 2014

 

Host: Tom Clark

Guest Interviews: Roméo Dallaire, Paul Martin, Coral Davenport, Barry McLoughlin

Location: Ottawa

 

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On this Sunday morning, a truly great Canadian, Senator Roméo Dallaire discusses why he is leaving the Senate, and the prime minister who appointed him reflects on the future of the Red Chamber.

And capping carbon, US President Barack Obama is set to unveil far reaching rules on carbon emissions, breaking away from Canada in the race to control climate change.

Plus, what has happened to the relationship between the government and Canada’s veterans?  The bond appears to be breaking.

It is Sunday, June the 1st and from the nation’s capital, I’m Tom Clark, and you are in The West Block.

Well seven years from mandatory retirement, Senator Roméo Dallaire has announced he is stepping away from the Red Chamber.

Dallaire was appointed to the Senate in 2005 by Paul Martin.  A retired general, he is best known as the United Nations Commander during the nightmare of the Rwandan massacre.  That horror never left him, and it threw him into a lifelong struggle with PTSD.  But Dallaire says he’s not leaving the Senate because of that or even because of the Senate scandals.  Rather, it’s upcoming work with the United Nations and a prestigious American university.

And joining me now is senator or general or you can just call him a Canadian hero, Roméo Dallaire.  Good to see you here senator.  Thanks very much.

 

Roméo Dallaire:

Very kind.

 

Tom Clark:

You’re moving on from the Senate but I’m wondering this, why did you feel that it was necessary to leave the Senate to pursue these other goals that you wanted to achieve?

 

Roméo Dallaire:

Time, I just don’t’ have enough time.  I don’t have enough time to do the job in the Senate and where it takes up a lot of the time the committee time and so on, and doesn’t give you much flexibility that way.  And the escalating demands on all the other programs that have taken off like my Child Soldier Initiative at Dalhousie. Now that Security Council has given us resolutions, we’re now training contingents in Africa going into conflict zones like Mali and Somalia.  So that with genocide work, with writing books, with going to do research at USC, they were all coming to a head and so I said I can’t do this anymore.  It was too much and that’s why at the end of the session, I’m stopping the Senate, except for all the work I do on veterans.  I still have a team that’s going to work with me on that.

 

Tom Clark:

You’ve talked so openly about your own battles and so on and I think it’s remarkable.  Fourteen years later, those demons are still chasing you.  You may be outrunning them but they’re always right there behind you.

 

Roméo Dallaire:

I’ve gotten 14 years of therapy.  I’ve got 20 years of living with the damn thing.  It’s an injury…it’s a vicious injury because contrary to a pure physical injury, which you can build a prosthesis and use when you want to and become very proficient at it.  This, you build a prosthesis but you’re always vulnerable.  You’re vulnerable to a smell, to a noise, to a bad day, to fatigue and this injury can be terminal.  And so it took years, and that’s why I went public to make people realize that there’s got to be a sense of urgency with this urgency, just like we have it with an arm dangling because the longer it festers, the more complex and a higher risk of it being catastrophic.

 

Tom Clark:

Are you going to miss this place when you’re gone?

 

Roméo Dallaire:

Terribly.

 

Tom Clark:

Really?

 

Roméo Dallaire:

Yeah.  I mean my father is a staff sergeant, during the army in 1929.  We lived in wartime housing in east end Montreal, the fourth largest petro-chemical city in all of North America.  There were seven oil refineries there.  The sheeting on our wartime housing was asbestos.  We never saw leaves on the tree and to be able on these days to walk up to that building and to say that I’m actually working in there and I’m actually influencing, and as tedious as it can be and as manoeuvering and so on that it requires.  And sometimes I could use my blue beret in fact, or maybe a blue helmet.

 

Tom Clark:

Sometimes the artillery would be helpful too.

 

Roméo Dallaire:

Haha, big guns would help, and the fact that I’m in awe of it.  I’m in awe of it being the heart of the system of governance and I’ve been part of it has not waned at all.  And there are days when the sun hits it right; I just can’t believe that I’m actually…I actually work there.

 

Tom Clark:

General Dallaire, Senator Dallaire, I think the whole country at this point would like to say thank you very much for your service.

 

Roméo Dallaire:

Well I hope the country also helps us internationally.  And my Roméo Dallaire Child Soldier Initiative is saving a lot of kids and we’re going to save a hell of a lot more.  And so out of Dalhousie, so I hope I get the support to do that.  I’m going to be on the scrounge now.

 

Tom Clark:

A real pleasure seeing you again sir.  Thank you so much.

 

Roméo Dallaire:

Thank you very much.  You’ve been very kind.

 

Tom Clark:

Well joining me now from Quebec City is the man who appointed Roméo Dallaire to the Senate, Canada’s 21st Prime Minister Paul Martin.  Mr. Martin awfully good to have you here.

First of all, could you just give me your reaction to the departure of Mr. Dallaire from the Senate?

 

Paul Martin:
General Dallaire is in every way a great Canadian hero.  In fact, he’s actually a global hero, and I understand why he is doing this.  I had the opportunity to speak to him yesterday and he really wants to devote the rest of his life to the issues that have concerned him so much over the last 20 years; the questions of genocide, the question of child soldiers.  And he’s also writing a book again.  And his books have been so well received.  I think he really just wants to fully concentrate on where the world is going and what it has to do to prevent the kinds of things that happened in Rwanda.

 

Tom Clark:

Roméo Dallaire has said on his departure that he still believes in the Senate and most importantly he believes that the Senate should be continued to be appointed by the prime minister of the day.  Justin Trudeau as you know has gone the other way and said there should be an independent commission.  Have you got any thoughts about the forward way keeping the Roméo Dallaire situation in sight?

 

Paul Martin:

Well I think that the appointment by the government has obviously worked in large cases.  I think that…I mean I actually appointed for instance some Conservatives to the Senate because I felt that there was a need for a better balance and I would hope that the current prime minister would take that kind of thing into account.  Do I think that outside bodies, the way that Justin Trudeau has talked about, making recommendations?  I always think that’s a good idea.

 

Tom Clark:

The Supreme Court has made it pretty clear that the only way towards Senate reform is by reopening the Constitution.  Do you think it’s worth the risk and the pain of reopening the Constitution to enact or to try and get those reforms?

 

Paul Martin:

Well I’d rather…I think I’d much rather see a stronger economy for that to happen.  I think that reopening the Constitution should only occur if you’ve got a very good chance of making it happen.  And I think we’ve got to recognize that the provinces have the right to speak on this issue.  And to try to do it behind the provinces backs or over around them and ignoring them is just wrong, and that’s the reason why the other great institution has played a role in a lot of these kinds of debates, and that’s the Supreme Court of Canada.  And I don’t think…I mean I believe very strongly in the privacy of Parliament but I don’t think that the privacy of Parliament has to take place at the expense or the destruction of the other great institutions of government.

 

Tom Clark:

I want to switch subjects for a minute because you’ve dedicated your life now to the betterment of the Aboriginal situation in this country, and I want to get your thoughts.  Last week, the Education bill, the Aboriginal Education bill died when the AFN decided that they weren’t going to support it anymore.  The government withdrew it.  Two billion dollars went off the table.  How bad a setback is this?

 

Paul Martin:

I just think that the government’s position is unconscionable. You know, they walked away from Kelowna which dealt with this issue, you know and that means…this was in 2006.  And they are then saying we’re going to put more money in, in 2016.  You know what that means?  That means a young child in 2006 who went into grade one would have spent their whole life in grade school without decent funding.  And underpaid teachers, schools that were you know just simply the kind of school that you would never send your children to.  And I just think that…I think what the government is doing is morally wrong.  I think there is an enormous amount of mistrust on behalf of the First Nations and I understand why.  You know the government initially said…admitted there was a gap.  Then they came out and said there was no gap, which was simply not true because six months later they then contradicted themselves.  And so I think what they’ve been playing is a very tough game here, a very…really an unfair game with the First Nations and you’re seeing the result of it.

 

Tom Clark:

You know some people might say though, you know, by relying on the AFN to approve any Aboriginal bill basically gives them a veto power over what should be done.  How do you respond to that?  I mean I guess it comes to the heart of this, Mr. Martin and that is, the nature of the relationship between the Aboriginal community and the government, and whether we’re even close to the place where it can be a cooperative arrangement.

 

Paul Martin:

Well it was with us in Kelowna and there’s no doubt that the First Nations want it to be.  I think the fundamental issue that the government should understand is that the First Nations parents love their children every bit as much as any other Canadian loves their children.  And what the First Nations want for their children is the best education possible.  And they want all those opportunities that other Canadians have.  And if you have an underfunded elementary and secondary school education system compared to other Canadians, you’re not going to have that kind of a system.  For the government refusing to give it to them makes absolutely no sense, and of course the First Nations want a say in the kind of education their children are going to receive.  If we had been through, you or I had ever been through what the residential schools cause, we would certainly insist on having the say.

 

Tom Clark:

Paul Martin, 21st Prime Minister of Canada and still very passionate about the issues of this country.  Thanks very much for your time.  It’s been great talking to you.

 

Paul Martin:

Well thank you very much.

 

Tom Clark:

And coming up, US President Barack Obama is about to make a bold move to curb greenhouse gas emissions.  Will Canada follow suit?

And then later, another confrontation caught on tape, painting Canada’s Veteran’s Affairs Minister as uncaring towards vets and their families.  How did it get there and how can the government fix it?

 

Break

 

Tom Clark:

Welcome back.  There is much anticipation about a major announcement that President Barack Obama will be making tomorrow.  According to the New York Times, he will call upon states to cut carbon output from coal power plants by 20 per cent. And that, it’s predicted, will prompt states to introduce a cap and trade system.  The fight to contain climate change has become a priority for Obama and especially for his legacy.  This move will be highly controversial in the states, will reverberate in this country as well, underlining that Canada still has no greenhouse gas regulations for its oil and gas industry.

Well joining me now is the reporter behind this story, Coral Davenport of the New York Times.  She writes on energy and environment policy.  Coral, welcome to The West Block.  Tell me just how big a deal is this going to be?

 

Coral Davenport:

Oh this is a huge deal.  This is going to be the largest action ever taken by any US president on climate change.  The president has the executive authority to do what he is doing.  This is far more than just an announcement.  This is the first shot fired in what we’re going to see, a set of regulations kicking in over the next couple of years.  It could have a tremendous environmental and economic impact.  It will also be very controversial.

 

Tom Clark:

Very controversial because Republicans especially, have not liked the idea of a cap and trade system.  It was brought in and defeated in Congress, I think it was back in 2010.  This seems to be coming through the back door but does it look right now that this method may in fact introduce a cap and trade system that eventually will spread throughout the United States?

 

Coral Davenport:

It could do that.  What the regulation, what the proposed regulation will do is tell states they have to cut their carbon emissions.  That will not be in question and then it will offer states a menu of options, different ways, different policies that states can comply.  They can comply by shutting down existing coal-fired power plants, installing new wind and solar.  One of the new ways they’ll be able to comply is by creating or joining state level cap and trade programs.  We don’t have the details of the rule yet so that will have a big impact on… a significant impact on how states actually choose to comply, but it’s expected that for a lot of states, joining or creating a state level cap and trade will be the easiest and cheapest way to comply.  We’re already hearing from electric utilities from the owners of these coal plants.  They say for them, cap and trade would be the easiest way to comply.  So it does look like you know the president failed to get his national cap and trade bill through Congress but you know through this regulation, it does look like we will see the creation of state level cap and trade programs all across the country.

 

Tom Clark:

And that could have a huge impact in this country, and I’m sure the bill in the states isn’t designed to change Canadian policy, but in your investigation of all of this Coral, have you ever heard any expectation expressed by either the White House or the state department that Canada up its game?  That Canada somehow needs to be shamed into coming to its own oil and gas regulations?

 

Coral Davenport:

I think that there is a lot of unhappiness within the Obama administration about Canada’s lack of a climate policy.  Canada pulled out of the Kyoto protocol.  I think within the Kerry state department, Canada is kind of looked at as a bad actor in some cases on this.  Of course, within the state level, cap and trades that already exist in the US, some of those do already trade with regional Canadian cap and trade programs.  So, you know it might not be surprising if there are more US state level cap and trade programs that might strengthen that.  Certainly one of the goals of President Obama is to strengthen his own hand in international negotiations to try to force other countries to cut their emissions.  I think first and foremost, they are looking; their sights are trained on China, the world’s largest polluter of greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Tom Clark:

Yeah, and this also is a legacy item for the president, isn’t it, in that he’s decided that in his last two years, he wants to write his own script.  Although this has absolutely nothing to do with Alberta’s oil sands or the Keystone pipeline, is there anything in this move though that might signal to us where the president may end up on that issue, if in fact this is a big legacy issue?

 

Coral Davenport:

So it’s really interesting.  You know the administration recently decided to punt once again their decision on the Keystone pipeline.  It looks like that will not come until after this November’s midterm congressional elections.  By delaying that decisions and by putting that Keystone decision in the broader context of a president who is moving forward aggressively on climate change, you know, the Kremlin watchers…the White House watchers on this, look at this and say it could be more likely that he’ll thumb it down.  You know after the midterm elections, President Obama doesn’t have to run for office, doesn’t have to take part in elections.  If he wants to make climate change his legacy, you know that could be…thumbing down Keystone could be one more piece of it but I have to say, this is one issue that no one wants to say for sure what he’s going to do.

 

Tom Clark:
Okay, Coral Davenport of the New York Times joining us from Washington.  Thank you very much for your insight.  I appreciate your time.

 

Coral Davenport:

Sure, great to be with you.

 

Tom Clark:

Well still to come, the growing rift between the government and its veterans.  What’s the fix?  That’s next.

 

Break

 

Tom Clark:

Welcome back.  Well on this day, 70 years ago, final preparations were underway for the greatest sea born invasion in history.  D-Day changed the course of the war and the greatest generation took its place in history.  But recently the bond between veteran and country has been strained here.  Many who wore the uniform of Canada say that they feel that they’ve been abandoned by the federal government, in the name of cost cutting and politics.  That’s led to some ugly confrontations like this one last week where a military wife tried to get the attention of Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino.  Take a look.

 

Military Wife (Jenifer Migneault):

“I’m just a vet’s spouse.  You’re forgetting us, once more.  We’re nothing to you.”

 

Tom Clark:

Well that is Jenifer Migneault, the wife of a veteran.  She wanted to talk to Fantino as he was leaving committee.  Fantino’s office told reporters later that he was unaware that she was there among all the cameras.

Well joining me now, Barry McLoughlin, an expert in crisis communications.  Barry thanks very much for being here.

 

Barry McLoughlin:

My pleasure Tom.

 

Tom Clark:

Is this a crisis for the government?

 

Barry McLoughlin:

Well it’s certainly a crisis of perception that they don’t seem to care about veterans, which is seen as the most vulnerable and deserving of all groups in this country.  A lot of it is in how they have communicated through their minister.  Their programming has been somewhat controversial.  They’ve made some very good progress for veterans but boy, when you have another incident like this occur; it seems to absolutely…that perception is very damaging.

 

Tom Clark:

And let’s take what Julian Fantino said.  He said he didn’t know she was there, that it was a lot of confusion going on and in another way they felt that they had been set up a little bit too.  And there’s no question that when cameras are around in politics, things do get set up but nevertheless.

 

Barry McLoughlin:

Yeah that’s right.  It’s a moment of truth.  You know you see cameras and somebody is yelling at you.  Your instinct is not to leap over there and say what can I do for you.  Your instinct is to keep moving.  And so ministers tend to want to do that but he had staff around him and they all went in.  Nobody came back.  Nobody said look it, the minister would be pleased to talk to you.  You know usually you want to do that.  He’s already had it happen to him once with cameras rolling and he wasn’t there on time for that meeting with the minsters last December.  That was extremely damaging so he should have been hyper sensitive to the potential for another vent like that.

 

Tom Clark:

How has this been allowed to happen because normally the Department of Veterans Affairs historically has not been one of the more high profile ones in government?  It suddenly becomes pretty high profile and not in a good way.  How did they allow this to happen?

 

Barry McLoughlin:

Well I think they didn’t realize that with the age now of World War II veterans in particular, I’m a World War II veteran myself.  They are extremely vulnerable.  With what’s going on today, this is going to naturally escalate the importance and significance of the Veterans Affairs minister, who in the past was hard to name who they were.  But all that a Minister of Veterans Affairs has to do is to listen and to care.  They gotta do that.  Government programs are government programs but if you have the perception you don’t even listen then you don’t care.  Fifty per cent of credibility is caring.  Thirty-five per cent is honesty and sincerity.  And fifteen per cent is competence.  Well you know, you could pick any one of those but I think the caring one has been the one that he has failed to manage.

 

Tom Clark:

So here’s what the government’s going to say back to you on that.  They’re going to say, well listen Barry, since 2006, we’ve put over $5 billion new dollars into veterans’programs; we’ve expanded the type of programs that are out there.  You know, come on, I mean we’ve done a good job.

 

Barry McLoughlin:

And they have actually on some stuff.  I can say that definitively but the problem is that they don’t realize the importance of perception.  They put millions into advertising.  It’s hard to care in advertising.  Advertising doesn’t change opinions by the way, it only reinforces a message you have earned through the media but if you ignore the media and run past the media and try to get everything through in advertising, it’s another example of where it doesn’t work.

 

Tom Clark:

And in fact, they’re launching a $4 million dollar advertising campaign.  We saw it during the playoffs and a lot of veterans saying don’t spend the money on advertising.  Spend it on programs that you’ve been cutting.

Okay, I’m the federal government, I’m hiring you and in 30 seconds I want you to tell me how I fix this.

 

Barry McLoughlin:

The minister has to get out there and speak to veterans directly.  He’s got to speak to them through the media.  He’s got to make himself available.  He’s got to meet and listen and he’s got to communicate his caring.  If he can’t do that, that’s the primary requirement of that role.  He would have to look at another portfolio if he honestly feels that he’s not the right person for that job.

 

Tom Clark:
Barry McLoughlin always good to have you on the show.  Thanks very much.

 

Barry McLoughlin:

My pleasure Tom.

 

Tom Clark:

Well that is our show for today.  Next week, the world will gather on the beaches of Normandy to remember what happened there 70 years ago.  Juno was Canada’s beach and that’s where you will find The West Block.  We’ll be reporting all week on Global National and of course, next Sunday with our special D-Day edition.   Until then, have a great week.  I’m Tom Clark.

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