December 2, 2012 1:42 pm
Updated: March 5, 2013 1:51 pm

The words: Full transcript from Episode 13, Season 2

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THE WEST BLOCK
Episode 13, Season 2
Sunday, December 2, 2012

Host: Tom Clark
Guests: Adrian Dix, Jim Pattison, James Moore
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

Tom Clark:
Welcome to The West Block on this Sunday, December 2nd from a foggy and rainy but always beautiful Vancouver. I’m Tom Clark.

On today’s show, the shifting political sands in British Columbia; we’ll speak with the man who could very well be the next premier of this province, NDP leader Adrian Dix.

And which way is the economy really headed? We will speak to legendary BC billionaire Jimmy Pattison.

And Canadian history redefined. What’s really behind the changing of the name of the Museum of Civilization?

First up, if the polls are to be believed, the provincial NDP will form the next government of British Columbia. But with the Liberals fighting for their political lives, get ready for a wild and woolly campaign. NDP leader Adrian Dix is already laying down some significant markers like an absolute no to the Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta to the BC coast. Earlier today, I spoke with the man who would be premier.

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Adrian Dix good to have you here, thanks very much for taking the time.

Adrian Dix:
It’s great. It’s always beautiful in Vancouver, especially in December.

Tom Clark:
Well you can see that (laughing).

Adrian Dix:
It’s glorious here. This is the best time of year to be here. It’s fantastic in December.

Tom Clark:
Listen, I want to ask you the big national question about your position politically. When it comes to the Northern Gateway pipeline you have said no, under no circumstances is the Northern Gateway pipeline going to happen under your administration, should that happen. Does that apply to any oil pipeline from Alberta to the cost of British Columbia? Is that a blanket no for everything?

Adrian Dix:
Well in this case there’s an application. It’s been before us for two and a half years. We don’t think it’s in the economic or environmental interests of British Columbia. The current provincial government has handed over jurisdiction to the federal government. For all the posturing on it, they signed an agreement with the federal government that said the federal approval means the provincial approval. It’s called an equivalency agreement. And so if we came to office we would be opting out of that equivalency agreement within seven days of being sworn into office. And we would…

Tom Clark:
Which means a no?

Adrian Dix:
Well it would say that we’re not accepting the federal process as a provincial process. There are important issues of provincial jurisdiction here and we don’t agree with the current government’s position which was a) that they would hand over jurisdiction and b) that they missed the deadline. Can you believe it? On this project of this importance in British Columbia, the current…the Liberal government missed the deadline to provide evidence to the process. So we have a different view. We’ve stated that view in detail to the joint review panel and we’ve said clearly what we’re going to do.

Tom Clark:
But in a broader sense, would you say no to any oil pipeline coming from Alberta?

Adrian Dix:
Well there is oil coming from Alberta now. It’s coming actually right out there.

Tom Clark:
Kinder Morgan.

Adrian Dix:
The Kinder Morgan line. There’s a line already so oil and gas moves around British Columbia and moves around Canada and in fact, there’s a pipeline; it goes by plan that’s been approved for natural gas going through Kitimat that will support LNG projects. So we’re in favour of industrial development generally we just think that this project isn’t a good project for the province. And by the way, people talk about national interest; well for decades it was in the national interest decided by the federal government that there be a moratorium on oil tanker traffic from the north coast. And that was always the national interest so we’re not having a debate between national interests and regional interests. In many respects we’re having a debate about what is the national interest.

Tom Clark:
You’re heading into campaign mode now. You’ve got an election coming up in May. The one question in every election anywhere in this country that the voters ask, are you going to raise my taxes. So let me ask you the question, are you going to raise taxes in British Columbia if you become the premier?

Adrian Dix:
Well I’ve been specific; you know we’re running a different style of campaign here. The Liberal party is running the same old campaign. They’ve been running nasty attack ads, mostly against me personally and we’re running a different style campaign. So I’ve said for more than a year, specifically that we would because we think it’s important that young people get access to post-secondary education that we would reinstate non-refundable student grants and we’d pay for it by reinstating a minimum tax in the banks that had been in place up to 2008. We also said that on the specific issue of corporate taxes, big business taxes that we would roll those back to 2008 levels so that we’d have some money to spend on infrastructure and meeting environmental and addressing issues of inequality. So we’ve been quite specific on those questions and I think what’s happened in BC is by being specific, by being respectful by saying how we’re going to pay for things as well as what we’re going to do, I think people are appreciating that view.

Tom Clark:
Okay, if you’re not going to raise personal taxes, if you’re not going to raise the sales tax, if you’re marginally going to increase the corporate tax, you’ve got a deficit in this province of about $1.5 billion dollars I think is the latest calculation. You’ve got an extreme problem with infrastructure as every province does. You’ve got a lot of spending to do, where are you going to get the dough if you’re not going to raise taxes?

Adrian Dix:
Well I think there’s two ways to do it and one we obviously need to ensure that there’s economic growth in BC and that’s clearly what we need to do. One of the important things, one of the reasons you invest in skills training is that we have to take advantage. We have to have British Columbians able to work in the projects that are developing in our province. And then modestly, we have to address these revenue questions and we have and we’ve been specific about that to address real needs. So we’re setting priorities and for us, those priorities include skills training, ensuring that we invest in the land base which has been the source of wealth for a long time and has been neglected over time, and address issues of inequality and child poverty. These are our priorities. That means you can’t do everything and we’re clear that we can’t do everything in a first term of a mandate but that we’re going to…

Tom Clark:
Including balancing the budget…

Adrian Dix:
Well I don’t know. I think that if you look…that’s certainly our plan and our goal is to do that. We’ve had, as you know, since the Liberals were re-elected, and at that time they misled people about the size of the deficit. They said in the election campaign in the middle of the fiscal year, the deficit was $495 million dollars and it was about five times that as it turns out. And then they’ve run consecutive deficit budgets even though they have what they say is balanced budget legislation. So we’ve had four consecutive deficits and we have to move towards a balanced budget, that’s the sustainable approach and we do that, but what you need is economic growth to do that.

Tom Clark:
Okay, let’s talk politics for a second.

Adrian Dix:
Sure.

Tom Clark:
You’re obviously hoping to be an NDP premier. You’ve got an NDP opposition in Ottawa. You’ve had a very close by-election race recently where the NDP hung on but the Greens put on a real run for the money. How would you as an NDP premier try and intersect with the NDP opposition in Ottawa, would it be part of your job to try and lift up Tom Mulcair and the NDP and to make them a viable option for government?

Adrian Dix:
Well I think they are and I think the next election, I think increasingly British Columbians are seeing their role in national politics much more favourably. We used to always vote for the losing side. Now we’ve got more seats so absolutely, I think I’m very supportive of Tom. Many of the things you’d want to do would require a national government that has similar values and similar commitments so I would definitely see that happening. Now it’s always been a challenge in the past when the NDP is in office traditionally we haven’t done as well federally so what we’ll be focused on absolutely is ensuring that he gets a fair chance to provide an alternative to Stephen Harper.

Tom Clark:
But how do you do that specifically as premier? What sort of things do you do as a government to lift up Tom Mulcair?

Adrian Dix:
Well by doing a good job, by following through on our election commitments, by doing what I’m doing, which is not promising too much and delivering. Under promising and over delivering, that’s what we have to do and if we do that, if we do our job then the national debate won’t be about provincial government, it’ll be about Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Harper and I like our chances in that race.

Tom Clark:
Adrian Dix, very good talking to you. Thank you very much for your time.

Adrian Dix:
Any time. Welcome back to Vancouver any time.

Tom Clark:
I love it. I come for the sunshine.

Adrian Dix:
Absolutely, you got it.

Tom Clark:
Thanks again.

Adrian Dix:
Thank you.

Tom Clark:
Coming up a rare interview with a BC icon; I speak with Jimmy Pattison about the economy and a whole lot more. Stay tuned as the West Block continues from Vancouver.

Break

Tom Clark:
Welcome back to Vancouver. Well no matter where you are in this country the biggest question on everybody’s mind is which way is the economy going to go? And there’s nobody with a bigger stake in the answer to that than Vancouver’s Jimmy Pattison He’s Canada’s fifth richest man and at 84-years-old he oversees a $7 billion dollar empire of everything from supermarkets to museums. What began as a single store in Vancouver is now a worldwide enterprise employing more than 34,000 people.

And joining me now is the legendary Jimmy Pattison. Mr. Pattison so good to have you here.

Jim Pattison:
Good, well thank you.

Tom Clark:
It is said that the sun never sets on the Pattison Empire because you have got companies right around the world. From that very unique perspective that you have, what are we not thinking about that we should be thinking about?

Jim Pattison:
I think that there are not many places we aren’t focusing on. You know the big movements are in Asia and the east from here, and there’s a lot of activity and we’re doing pretty good.

Tom Clark:
Should that be your focus Jimmy that we should be doing everything we can to get into and connect with the Asian market at this point?

Jim Pattison:
I think so. I’m a big supporter of more activity over there on behalf of us. I think we can do more there but you know it takes a little time. The culture is very different in how we do business there you know.

Tom Clark:
Speaking of that, I’m wondering what your perspective is on this whole business of pipelines coming from Alberta, moving Alberta crude through British Columbia to the BC coast, specifically for that Asian market. Both the current government and the opposition in British Columbia have said basically no to the Northern Gateway pipeline. Are they on the wrong side of history or is this the right move for British Columbia?

Jim Pattison:
Well if you’re talking about British Columbia, there is a lot of resistance here for tankers on the coast and then of course anything to do with crossing the rivers and the streams where the fish go to spawn is a big deal, so it’s a very difficult call here. But if you take it from Canada’s point of view, it certainly would be good if we could get our products to the west coast but when you go through British Columbia you’ve got a lot of important native issues. You’ve certainly got the fishing issues, you’ve got the tanker issues, and you’ve got the tourist issue which is a big part of our world here in BC. So it’s a very difficult call.

Tom Clark:
I want to bring you…get your perspective on this, you know Mark Carney, the departing Governor of the Bank of Canada and Jim Flaherty, the Finance Minister both said at various times that their complaint against Canadian businesses is that they are sitting on hoards of cash and that they’re not putting that dough into the game. Are they right in saying that?

Jim Pattison:
I think so but you got to understand the uncertainty in the world. We’ve just been through very significant downturn where a lot of people were very frightened, including a lot of companies, and including financial institutions and there was a lot of damage done there. It takes time to have the confidence and particularly when you have the debt that’s involved with the United States and Europe, when you’ve got countries like that who are the leaders, particularly the Americans and the issues that they have in Europe, there’s a lot of reasons to hold back and be careful.

Tom Clark:
Because some people have said, you know if the Canadian companies who are sitting on all this cash would put it on the table, we might be able to afford our own resources, and I’m thinking for example, development in the oil sands in Alberta. Do you think the though when you take a look at the oil sands, obviously we’ve got a tough call as a country coming up. Do we allow the Chinese to take over Nexen as maybe a first step or is there enough capital in this country owned by Canadian companies that could develop the oil sands if decided to put that skin in the game?

Jim Pattison:
I can’t answer that question whether it’s all in Canada but certainly usually capital comes when there’s an opportunity that looks pretty reasonably secure.

Tom Clark:
In that case, what’s your own personal feeling, because you do a lot of business with the Chinese, what about the idea of the Chinese state oil company buying in the oil patch? Are you worried about that?

Jim Pattison:
Well I think that when a government, any government buys any asset, their whole objectives are very different than yours or mine or anybody else’s that’s in business because first of all their cost of capital is different. And secondly, their horizons, getting a return on that capital are different. So it’s a very different cat when you talk about bringing in sovereign money off-shore. And then add to the fact that the country may not have the same values that we… I don’t mean monetary values. I mean philosophical values and all the other things you know about. So it’s a very touchy deal.

Tom Clark:
I want to ask you a personal question because I think a lot of people might look at you and say, boy there’s a guy who didn’t start off with a whole lot, who did really, really well. At your age you work seven days a week, you never take a holiday or at least you say every day is a holiday because you enjoy what you do. What’s the thrill for you? Do you ever get to the point where you’ve made enough money, that you’ve made enough deals? What drives you?

Jim Pattison:
Well you don’t work for money. I mean I’ve never worked for money but usually if you do a good job, any person the money will find them because if you really are good at what you do, have a passion for it and you’re honest and work hard, usually things will turn out reasonably good. Health is a big issue and being fortunate enough to be raised in British Columbia in Canada is a big plus you know than if I was born in Africa somewhere. It makes a big difference.

Tom Clark:
Generally speaking, are you optimistic about the prospects for British Columbia and Canada or are you worried?

Jim Pattison:
No I’m not worried. Nobody can screw up British Columbia. I mean this is a great province. We are so blessed with so many good things and right here we’ve got ports and they’re close to Asia. We’re close to the Americans and we just couldn’t have it better than we have. We are a very fortunate province and a very fortunate country. I can’t imagine having a better neighbour than the United States and they have been a huge positive influence over the years. And now we’ve got this whole Asia opportunity coming up. We just…I’m very positive on the future here.

Tom Clark:
Well I think it’s safe to say that British Columbia was pretty fortunate to have you around as well.

Jim Pattison:
Well it’s been very good to me and I’m most grateful to the good Lord and to democracy and free enterprise system that make it possible for guys like me to accumulate and grow, but you know we never worry about that. We are interested in building and having a good time.

Tom Clark:
Well you’re certainly having that. Jimmy Pattison thank you so much for taking the time, I appreciate it.

Jim Pattison:
Okay, thank you.

Tom Clark:
Coming up next, an interview with Canada’s Heritage Minister, James Moore from beautiful but rainy British Columbia. Stay with us.

Break

Welcome back. Well at just 26 years of age, the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa is about to get a major facelift. In 2017, it will be renamed the Museum of History with fresh new exhibits and a whole new mandate. Now this is not the first time this has happened. Previous Canadian governments have left their stamp on how we look at Canadian history. Here is your weekly West Block Primer:

The museum has been searching for an identity since the 1860’s but the modern story starts in 1986 when it was renamed the Canadian Museum of Civilization. With a new name came a remarkable new home in 1989. And in no time, the museum became a superstar, attracting more than 1.2 million visitors every year. But with Canada’s 150th birthday on the horizon, the government wants to revamp things again, starting with a new name, again, the Canadian Museum of History, and a new focus on Canada’s historical achievements. The plan is to spend $25 million dollars to install new permanent exhibits that tell the story of Canada. The galleries will feature faces like Montcalm, Pierre Trudeau and Terry Fox. There will be artifacts from iconic Canadian moments like Rocket Richard’s hockey jersey and the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway. But the new focus already has an array of critics. Will it be more jingoism than history? And in a very diverse country, whose history will it celebrate?

Tom Clark:
Well joining me now is the man who made the name change at the museum, Heritage Minister, James Moore. Mr. Moore thanks very much for being here.

James Moore:
Pleasure.

Tom Clark:
I just want to point out that we’re in this beautiful Orpheum Theatre in downtown Vancouver, partially because as Heritage Minister, you have a lot to do with the arts, so this seemed to be an appropriate location. But I want to start with history, do you think that we’re doing a good enough job of teaching history in this country or did you feel that it was necessary to spend that money, make those changes to boost the teaching of history?

James Moore:
No I don’t think we’re doing enough and I there are limited things that the federal government can do. Education of course is provincial jurisdiction but when you consider that in only four of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories, is it mandatory for a student to take a history class to graduate from high school. I think it’s little wonder when the Historica-Dominion Institute comes out with surveys that show how impoverished our kids are in their basic understanding of Canada’s basic history.

Tom Clark:
Okay, I want you to put on your other hat now and that is as Regional Minister for British Columbia, and obviously one of the big issues out here is the whole question of the Northern Gateway pipeline. And I want to play for the audience some things that you had to say recently about the Northern Gateway pipeline.

You said this, “Just because British Columbia is physically the Asia-Pacific Gateway, it doesn’t mean that we’re the doormat for companies like Enbridge to think that they can go ahead and do business without having due diligence and taking care of the public’s interest”.

Those pretty strong words, not the type of words that you hear from Joe Oliver and other of your cabinet colleagues. Is the Northern Gateway pipeline ever gonna be built?

James Moore:
Well we’ll see. I mean there’s the review panel process which is underway now. It’ll carry on through next year as well. My comments there were frankly a bit of a challenge and a reflection that the public had about Enbridge which wants to do business across Western Canada to have frankly a better engagement with the public, and I think they’ve stepped up a lot. If you look at what they’re doing now, not just the ad campaigns but their engagement, their engagement with the review panel process; I think they’ve come a long way from where they were. I believe entirely in the effort of our government to ensure that we can create Canadian jobs through world sales of Canadian commodities and Enbridge could be part of that. Kinder Morgan could well be part of that, so could British Columbia softwood, so could our mining exports, so could potash, so could a lot of things. And we as a government strongly believe in the importance of building those relationships with world markets and making sure that those companies that want to do business with the rest of the world are engaged not just with other companies, not just with other markets but also engage with everyday Canadians to remind them of the importance that Canada from the Hudson Bay Company through FTA, NAFTA and now the TPP, we always have been, we always will be an exporting nation.

Tom Clark:
You mentioned the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership; this new trade arrangement that Canada has entered into. There are meetings coming up in the next couple of days on this. Japan is not yet a member of the TPP. TPP, to use shorthand, was to provide us a pivot to Asia. If Japan isn’t in on this deal, what sort of deal is it?

James Moore:
Well we’ll see. I mean that’s part of the negotiations that are going to begin. The TPP is the bringing together of economies that constitute over $15 trillion dollars in the world’s economy. It’s the largest trade liberalization agreement in human history. It’s massive in its consequence and scope.

Tom Clark:
Can TPP be considered a success if Japan is not part of it?

James Moore:
I think so. I think liberalization works. But I also think that the conversations that will be had at the TPP table, I don’t want to pre-suppose what will and won’t be discussed there but certainly, I think trade liberalization with all of the Asia-Pacific, including Japan is a critical part of the success of Asia-Pacific.

Tom Clark:
But if they’re not there, you think it’s still going to be a good deal for Canada, but Japan’s not part of the partnership.

James Moore:
All trade liberalization will work to the best interest of Canada because we can compete and win in the world markets.

Tom Clark:
So any time you talk about TPP, this question has to be asked; how much are you going to go, how far are you going to go to defend supply management with milk and eggs and chicken so that we can continue to pay the highest prices for milk anywhere in North America?

James Moore:
Important debates, we’ve said all along that we think that we can certainly protect those important industries and do so in a way that will not impinge our ability to grow and expand our markets around the world.

Tom Clark:
Is supply management on the table in TPP or is it off the table, are you protecting it?

James Moore:
We’ve always said we will make a commitment to protect supply management for sure.

Tom Clark:
So it’s not up for negotiation?

James Moore:
Well, of course there will be a lot of negotiations but we’re very confident that we can have trade liberalization in this country that does protect those key parts of Canada’s economy.

Tom Clark:
James Moore, Minister of Heritage, thanks very much for being here in this beautiful theatre in Vancouver.

James Moore:
Pleasure is mine.

Tom Clark:
And that’s the West Block fir this week from beautiful but somewhat rainy British Columbia. We’re headed back to Ottawa in seven days’ time. Join us then for another edition. Until then, I’m Tom Clark. Have a great week.
 

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