THE WEST BLOCK
Episode 3, Season 5
Saturday, September 26, 2015
Host: Tom Clark
Guest Interviews: Justin Trudeau
Political Strategists Panel: Rick Anderson, Lindsay Doyle, Robin Sears
Unpacking the Politics Panel: Susan Delacourt, Evan Solomon, Mark Kennedy
Singer-Songwriter: Chantal Kreviazuk
This week, on The West Block: Liberal leader Justin Trudeau on why he should be the next prime minister and how he deals with some very personal attacks.
Then, the political power of the Niqab: How the Muslim veil is driving votes in Canada, but is it an entirely phoney issue? Our political strategists weigh in on that. And our journalists take a look at how the Liberals will pay for their campaign promises.
Plus, another in our series of prominent Canadians on the issues: Today, Chantal Kreviazuk and why humanitarianism and our global engagement should be on the election priority list.
Tom Clark: Well weekends are generally quiet for the leaders’ campaigns, but with just three weeks left, the politics keep on rolling. And this weekend, it was the Liberals turning that wheel. Under the cover of a sleepy Saturday morning, they revealed how they will pay for their campaign promises. Now, this is the book and we will have a closer look at the numbers just a little bit later in the show. We wanted to talk about it with the Liberal leader, Justin Trudeau, but he was only made available to us before the costing was released. So, instead we talked about his platforms, his predictions and those attacks.
Mr. Trudeau thanks very much for being here. And I want to start here because every conversation that I’ve ever heard in this country when people are considering voting for you, if there’s a hesitation, it’s simply this, they say yeah, but is he a bit of a light weight? How do you deal with that?
Justin Trudeau: You know what, I’ve never much worried about what people have to say, particularly my detractors about me. I’m much more focused on doing the kinds of things that demonstrate that I’m serious about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. And that means putting forward, as we’ve said, an ambitious plan to invest in our middle class, to grow the economy, to give tax cuts to the middle class by raising taxes on the wealthiest one per cent, by doing things that are necessary and not worrying too much about how people will characterize it. This is an election about who has a better plan to move us forward when Mr. Harper’s plan has failed, when Mr. Mulcair doesn’t seem much of a plan and we’re actually putting forward real change.
Tom Clark: Let’s talk about that big part of your plan which is, as you call it, three modest deficits as a way to kick start the economy. This current government had six deficits and they were bad, according to you. Why are your deficits good and their deficits bad?
Justin Trudeau: Well, deficits are a way of measuring the kind of growth and the kind of success that a government is actually able to create. And Mr. Harper on growth has the worst growth record of any prime minister since R.B. Bennett in the depths of the Great Depression in the 30’s. So, the fact that he stood up in three different election campaigns, looked Canadians in the eye and said I’m not going to run deficits and then sort of stumbled into them, is the problem that he hasn’t been able to grasp. We’re being absolutely direct with Canadians. We think what our economy needs right now is investment because interest are at a historic low. Our debt to GDP ratio is low and getting lower, even under our plan with deficits. The economy is flat and quite frankly, people need jobs. So my question for both Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Harper is, if now isn’t a time to invest in our future, if now isn’t the time to do the equivalent of what a homeowner knows, borrow from the bank when interest rates are low to build equity in your home, to renovate your home because you have a new edition to the family or even buying a new home, you are investing in your own future. That’s what this country needs to do, but Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulcair refuse to do that.
Tom Clark: But are you saying then that your deficits will be better because it’ll grow the economy whereas their deficits didn’t grow the economy? I’m not quite sure what the difference is.
Justin Trudeau: Well that’s exactly what we’ve seen. Mr. Harper used his fiscal room to try and jumpstart the economy but didn’t address infrastructure deficits we have in our communities and municipalities across the country. Ask someone stuck on the Deerfoot Trail. Ask someone stuck in traffic on the Gardiner; it is a drag on our economy, on economic growth and on quality of life. We need a plan to invest in transit in seniors homes, in social infrastructure, in green infrastructure so that we can cut off the impacts of climate change so that we can create the green energy installations we need. We have an investment plan that’s going to bring in historic levels of infrastructure in this country by $60 million dollars more over the next 10 years.
Tom Clark: Let me ask you about another big economic question and that is, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. As you know, this coming week, there are going to be negotiations on the TPP and if so, are you prepared to sacrifice supply management in order to join the club?
Justin Trudeau: Obviously I’m in favour of TPP. The Liberal party has always been in favour of trade. It’s something that grows our economy, creates good jobs. We know for example, that export intensive industries in this country pay 50 per cent higher wages than non-exporting industries, so trade is good and obviously, the growing economies of Asia is something that we need to fully engage with. As a country, we’re a trading nation, we get that. Now we have signed big trade deals in the past, NAFTA, CIDA with Europe, other trade deals without having to put supply management on the table. We have a system that works and every country in the world subsidizes its agriculture, so we can’t pretend that there’s suddenly a global free market in terms of agriculture. So, what we are concerned with, and this prime minister is yet again showing the way he does things, he is not telling us what’s on the table. He is not being open about what negotiations are going on. We have to take him on faith that he’s not put supply management on the table and we certainly hope that he hasn’t. He says he hasn’t and we’re going to wait and see.
Tom Clark: So, if you want to protect supply management, here’s one thing I’ve never quite understood about—and all parties say they support supply management—a single mother needing to buy milk for her children, for three bags of milk in Nova Scotia is paying over $7 dollars. South of the border, it’s half that, 50 miles away from here. So where’s the fairness in saying to Canadians that you’ve gotta pay more for the stuff to protect, in many cases, corporate farms?
Justin Trudeau: Well, we have a system that has worked for 40 years. The Americans used direct subsidies for their farms?
Tom Clark: But who’s it work for?
Justin Trudeau: The Americans pull it out of the same kinds of general pools of revenue and we don’t have to subsidize with taxpayer dollars or take away from the benefits that we’re giving. You talk about that single mother, we have a plan to actually give a more generous family benefit to her so that we can lift 315 thousand kids out of poverty, according to the Library of Parliament, by giving $533 a month tax-free to that single mom with a kid under six, earning less than $30 thousand dollars a year. That’ll make a huge difference in people’s lives and the reason we can do that, is we are going to stop sending child benefit cheques to millionaires like Mr. Harper is doing, like Mr. Mulcair wants to continue to do.
Tom Clark: Very quickly, before we take a break, is supply management a deal breaker for you? In other words, if it comes down to, if you want into this club you’ve gotta give up supply management, would you walk away from the table?
Justin Trudeau: Well, right now, the prime minister is the one at the table right now and he’s not even telling us what he’s put on the table.
Tom Clark: But what about you?
Justin Trudeau: For me, the trade deal is important and we’re going to look at what kind of concessions Canada has to make, but we’ve been able to sign very big trade deals in the past without putting our systems on the table and I expect us to be able to continue to do that.
Tom Clark: So is that a yes or a no in terms of supply management being a deal breaker?
Justin Trudeau: I’m not going to dig into hypotheticals right now. We’ve got a prime minister who’s not telling us what he’s negotiating.
Tom Clark: Mr. Trudeau, on that point, we’re going to take a short break. We’ll be right back right after these messages. Stay tuned.
Tom Clark: We’re back now with the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau. Mr. Trudeau I want to ask about the environment. We had this week, China announcing a cap and trade—it’s going to be the biggest cap and trade market in the world. The United States is moving ahead very ambitiously on this front as well. You said you’re going to sit down with the provinces before we go to Paris for the new climate deal. But as you go to Paris and as you talk to the provinces, what’s your target?
Justin Trudeau: Well, the fact is that we’ve had an awful lot of politicians putting forward a lot of targets, including from my own party, over the past years that have not been matched with a plan to actually reach those targets. So what we’re saying is, you know what, maybe the political announcement of targets isn’t worth much unless you’re actually putting into place, a plan to achieve those reductions. And in 10 years of a prime minister who hasn’t done anything in terms of climate responsibility or even environmental responsibility, the provinces stepped up. The provinces put prices on four different provinces, representing 86 per cent of economy; put a price on carbon through different methods. Ontario and Quebec are going for a cap and trade. BC and Alberta use a form of carbon tax. BC’s carbon tax is world-class. We know that in a country like Canada, one of our strengths is the provincial model that gives different solutions to different types of economies.
Tom Clark: But don’t you have to go into an international negotiation knowing what your floor is, saying to the provinces, you know, you can do whatever you want, but you’re not going to go below this level in terms of reduction.
Justin Trudeau: That’s why we’re committed to actually sitting down with the provinces as we go to Paris to demonstrate that we are going to work together to reach those global targets necessary.
Tom Clark: But don’t you have to go to the provinces to say, here’s the floor. The ceiling may be high, but here’s the floor. You’re saying you’re going into go to the provinces with no number whatsoever?
Justin Trudeau: I’m going to the provinces with a firm commitment that Canada will do its part to prevent the world from reaching a catastrophic 2 degree increase and that is what Canada’s going to do. And we’re going to have a concrete plan of approach to do that, instead of just throwing around numbers like Mr. Harper has done for the past 10 years without ever bothering to try and—
Tom Clark: Barack Obama has done it.
Justin Trudeau: Well, Mr. Obama has actually achieved a number of reductions that this prime minister has never even bothered to try.
Tom Clark: I want to move on to a couple of other topics. C-51 briefly, your vote in favour of C-51 may have inoculated you on the right hand side of the spectrum. You got a lot of blowback from the progressive side of the spectrum. Did you anticipate that blowback when you voted for C-51?
Justin Trudeau: The Liberal party has always, always been committed to both protecting Canadian security and defending their rights. It’s what we did in the years following 9-11. It’s what Canadians expect of any government to do those two things together. Now, Mr. Harper made it very clear that he doesn’t think we need to do anything more to protect our rights and freedoms, even though he’s bringing in more measures. Mr. Mulcair has been very clear, he doesn’t think we need to bring in any new measures to keep Canadians safe at all. The Liberal party believes we need to do those both together, that’s why we supported C-51 because of elements in it that will bring more security to Canadians and why we’re committed to bringing in proper parliamentary oversight of all our national security agencies, sunset and review clauses. It’s why we pushed for amendments at committee and a number of amendments were made. It’s what where Canadians expect us to do. What Canadians don’t expect their politicians to do or don’t want their politicians to do, is to play up unnecessary fears. Mr. Harper makes you want to think that there’s a terrorist hiding behind every leaf and rock. Mr. Mulcair wants you to think that suddenly we’re in a police state and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms have been ripped up. Those are both politics of fear. The Liberal party is the one that understands you do them both together. You get the balance right.
Tom Clark: What bills would you rescind if you were prime minister?
Justin Trudeau: There are a lot of elements and a number of different bills we’ll reverse. One of them is C-24. That idea that you can create two classes of citizenship that for two individuals who commit the same crime, there might be a different penalty for one than the other, depending on where their parents were born.
Tom Clark: You’re talking about taking citizenship away if you’re convicted of a terrorist offence?
Justin Trudeau: Yes. I think it’s a very slippery slope to have a state be able to say, you know what, you, no longer a Canadian citizen.
Tom Clark: You’ve complained in the past about for example, on so-called law and order agenda, so-called law and order agenda of the Harper government, the mandatory minimum sentencing, would you rescind mandatory minimum sentences?
Justin Trudeau: The Liberal party itself brought in mandatory minimums on certain serious crimes—murder. Irwin Cotler brought in a number of mandatory minimums. Where we have concerns is in the overuse and quite frankly, abuse of mandatory minimums because it’s a kind of political ploy that makes everyone feel good, saying we’re going to be tough on these people. But by removing judicial discretion and by emphasizing mandatory minimums, you’re actually clogging up our jails for longer periods of time and not necessarily making our communities any safer.
Tom Clark: So would you reverse some mandatory minimums?
Justin Trudeau: Some mandatory minimums, I think we would trust our judges to make the reasonable choices in that.
Tom Clark: Final question for you, Mr. Trudeau, what is victory for you on October 19th?
Justin Trudeau: Victory is being able to offer Canadians a better government than the 10 years they’ve had under Stephen Harper. It’s not enough to just replace Mr. Harper with a different government. We have to give Canadians a better government, one that’s going to invest in growth for the middle class, invest in strengthening our communities, one that’s going to actually give Canadians who need the help they need with more generous child benefits, lift seniors out of poverty, lift 315 thousand kids out of poverty. A government with a plan to grow the economy by investing in our communities, that’s what the outcome of this election should lead to.
Tom Clark: So anything less than a Liberal government, minority or majority would be a defeat?
Justin Trudeau: Well, you know what, everyone, especially in an election campaign talk about oh the election campaign is a win or lose process. It doesn’t even matter, the election campaign, nearly as much—I mean if I were to focus on oh, am I winning the election or losing the election, I wouldn’t be—oh I’d be playing the game the way I don’t think the game needs to be played. I think people are tired of politicians who focus on winning or losing as opposed to giving the best possible service and government to Canadians. And we’ve seen the games that get played in this House of Commons for far too long. The scoring points of the politics of division because all that matters is trying to knock down your opponent and win. Well I’m sorry, I was raised at a time where I understood that what matters is actually building a better future for our kids and for our grandkids, and that’s what I’m focused on. And if that can be the outcome of this election, that Canada’s government starts serving Canadians with a much better solution and a much better future, then that’s victory for all Canadians. And how the pundits characterize it, is less interesting to me.
Tom Clark: Well, I’m not a pundit and I’m sure I’m of little interest to you on that regard. But on that note, Mr. Trudeau, thank you very much for being here. I appreciate your time.
Justin Trudeau: Thank you. To answer your question finally, yes, we intend to win the October 19th.
Tom Clark: There we go. I was waiting for that. Okay. Mr. Trudeau, thank you very much. Best of luck to you on the campaign.
Justin Trudeau: Always a pleasure, Tom.
Tom Clark: Well, still to come, Canada’s world renowned singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk sits down with us to talk about Canada’s reputation on the world stage.
Tom Clark: Welcome back. The Niqab and all that it represents has taken and enormous role in this election. The face covering worn by some Muslim women has become the latest wedge issue in this campaign. The Conservatives want it banned for citizenship ceremonies, as does the Bloc Quebecois. Not so the NDP or the Liberals. Well to examine this Niqab election, I’m joined by three people who have had enormous influence on their parties. I’m joined by Conservative Rick Anderson, by Lindsay Doyle of the Liberals and Robin Sears, an NDP enthusiast. Welcome to you all.
Lindsay Doyle: Thank you.
Tom Clark: I’m assuming, and Rick, let me start with you. I’m assuming that this must show up in your internal polls as something that really drives votes. Could this be a deciding factor in an election that is so close?
Rick Anderson: Well, an election that’s so close, anything has the possibility becoming a determining factor, but I don’t think that you need to look at polls to understand why people are interested in this. It’s a coffee machine, water cooler, kitchen table conversation that’s going on around the country. That’s why it’s caught people’s attention.
Tom Clark: Well, let me throw this over to Robin because Tom Mulcair has made it very clear and he did in the Quebec debate that he was going to hold fast and the analysis afterwards was, my gosh, he’s going to lose support in Quebec because it is such a hot button issue.
Robin Sears: This is, once again, the Canadian Conservative Party the Republicans. This is their southern strategy for this campaign. There was no issue here. They created it in the House of Commons. They re-awoke it during this campaign and it is race politics of the most despicable kind in my view.
Rick Anderson: Well none of that’s true.
Robin Sears: I do not think that there is any logic to a position which says a Muslim woman who is veiled, who uncovers herself before the ceremony so that her identity can be revealed—there is no security threat—should be subject to the public humiliation that Mr. Harper has been trying to subject Muslim women to. I find it profoundly offensive.
Tom Clark: One of the things—Lindsay, let me throw this to you—that I find so curious about it, is that in many respects, this is a manufactured issue. I don’t think that we’re overwhelmed with Muslim women wearing veils showing up at citizenship ceremonies.
Lindsay Doyle: No and I think that’s where probably a lot of Canadians are kind of scratching their heads saying where did this issue come up? I thought we were talking about the economy. I thought we were talking about infrastructure development. I thought we were talking about issues that are going to affect Canadians on a day-to-day basis, so I do think that this is distracting. I think it was purposely put out as a distracting issue that obviously is going to put few parties in some very difficult positions. The NDP are being challenged in Quebec on this issue. I think Mr. Mulcair is doing quite well with it because again, it’s something that is very ugly in politics. It’s leading to a lot of uglier conversations, but in the midst of a value driven election, I think that this is something that unfortunately was always bound to come up.
Tom Clark: But even though it’s ugly, it must be moving votes.
Lindsay Doyle: I don’t know if it’s gonna–
Rick Anderson: I’m not sure that it’s moving votes at the end of the day. The election’s three weeks from now and this is the conversation of these couple of days to the campaign, but I think it’s important to Canadians. And it’s important for a couple of reasons that Robin is referring to here. First of all, it was Mr. Mulcair who had a press conference on Wednesday to discuss this and he did that because the Bloc Quebecois has been running some pretty lurid ads about it in Quebec and so there’s a thing going on between those two parties in Quebec on the issue which brought it back to the surface. It wasn’t going to be one of the top topics in the debate last Thursday–
Robin Sears: The prime minister has mentioned it half a dozen times himself unaided in his own comments. Come off it Rick.
Rick Anderson: Sure, the prime minister’s got a position on it which he talks about, but it didn’t become a top of mind issue for a lot of people until Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Duceppe got into it.
Robin Sears: This is Linton Crosby—
Rick Anderson: Oh well that’s nonsense.
Robin Sears: The famous Australian guru who invented race politics in Australia, who’s an advisor to this government, who’s whole modus operandi is to launch these kind of things, very subterranean, no ads, no big muss and fuss, but if you don’t believe the Tory war machine social media trolls are pumping this out every day, I’ve got some swamp land in Florida.
Rick Anderson: Well listen, the point you made, Tom, is I think accurate. There’s not very many people this affects which is of course, could be looked at two ways. Why are we talking about it so much?
Tom Clark: Could it be code for something else?
Rick Anderson: Well why Canadians at large are interested in it is because they think it’s important that we send a message that yes, you can come to Canada. You’re welcome to come to Canada. We have a lot of freedoms. Mr. Mulcair is right to say you should embrace Canadians citizenship because it gives you freedom, equality and so on. But also, we don’t want people to bring in ideas that oppression of women in our country is acceptable as it was in the country you came from.
Robin Sears: Who gave you that right?
Tom Clark: Let Lindsay in.
Lindsay Doyle: But this is a little bit of fearmongering and I have to stop. This is fearmongering 100 per cent and it was brought up multiple times, even in the conversation of Syrian refugees. It took your campaign only one or two days before you started injecting the fact that Syrian refugees might actually be terrorists in hiding.
Rick Anderson: It took us only one or two minutes because we think that’s an important issue.
Lindsay Doyle: I’m sorry, and I don’t believe that it’s right. And I think that a lot of Canadians, there’s actually going to be a substantial backlash against your party for these stances.
Rick Anderson: But listen, I think Canadians are prepared to hear both sides of these arguments. What they’re not prepared to hear, and they’re hearing it in spades from Robin right here, is that it’s not legitimate to even discuss them.
Robin Sears: Rick, what gave you the right to say to anybody who wants to be a citizen of this country, park your values at the airport or the shore. What incredible arrogance. Would you have said that to Irish Catholic immigrants a century ago?
Rick Anderson: What do you think the oath of citizenship is about? It’s pledging allegiance to certain things. We have a system of laws.
Robin Sears: And the veil offends the Canadian Oath of Allegiance? Give me a break.
Lindsay Doyle: The veil has to be an individual choice. It has to be a choice of should a Muslim woman choose to wear her veil, she should be able to do so and the government should never have a stance in that.
Tom Clark: But let me ask this though because some people might be wondering why we’re talking about the citizenship ceremony, it’s just a ceremony. But when the government had the opportunity to say you have to uncover your face to vote, arguably a much more fundamental part of the democratic process then a ceremony, the government said no. You backed off on that, why?
Rick Anderson: Because it is a symbolic issue. It is about, at one point or another, opening yourself to Canada and saying I’m here to declare my allegiance to this country and look people in the eye and do so.
Tom Clark: But wouldn’t a lot of Canadians also say—who believe that you’re right on this point—wouldn’t they also say you should uncover when you vote?
Rick Anderson: Well some people would say that and some people would say, you know if a policeman stops you and asks for identification, you might have to do it then too. But we shouldn’t let the discussion get so far field, that it includes all of these circumstances. The Bloc is actually calling for a more comprehensive ban on the wearing of the Niqab than anybody else is in the country and that goes back to the Quebec charter a few years ago.
Robin Sears: But Tom, the thing that’s so sad about this–
Rick Anderson: But that’s not really what’s at issue in the federal campaign.
Robin Sears: Canada has 75 years at least, going back to Pierre Trudeau to give him his due, when we changed the race and ethnic quotas for immigration to this country and being a beacon in the world for never raising these kinds of questions.
Rick Anderson: But that cuts both ways. That cuts both ways on this.
Robin Sears: And France has the example that they’re emulating in this case, has got itself into a terribly divisive social environment by claiming that he has the right to say to any Canadian woman how she should dress. Who are you to make that claim?
Rick Anderson: Well first of all, this is an act of Parliament. It wasn’t just an individual who made this claim. But I think the point
Robin Sears: Your majority rammed it through, that’s true. And it’s now before the courts and you’ve lost two rounds so far.
Tom Clark: I want to get Lindsay in on this. Go ahead.
Lindsay Doyle: No I just—again, we’re talking about this issue here around this table. There are a lot of other greater, more important issues that need to be discussed during this campaign. Again, it’s a distraction. I think it was purposely put out as a distraction. Whether or not that’s the case, here we are.
Tom Clark: But it is a heated issue.
Lindsay Doyle: It is a heated conversation and—
Tom Clark: And there are a lot of people on both sides who feel very strongly about this.
Robin Sears: Politics work.
Lindsay Doyle: Yes, and that’s a very–
Rick Anderson: But that’s what campaigns are about and that’s what political discussions are about. It’s all right to have this discussion–
Robin Sears: Needing division, that’s what they’re about?
Rick Anderson: Listen, anytime you feel like you’re on the losing side of an argument, you bring out the racist card and accuse people of divisiveness. Canadians are talking about this not because anybody’s prompted them to, because it’s an interesting discussion for them.
Lindsay Doyle: I just wish that the courts spoke and I wish that our federal government would not be fighting against those courts, who have stood up the original ruling in favour of Zunera Ishaq.
Tom Clark: On that note, I’ve gotta jump in and just say interestingly enough, we had about three other topics we were going to—it underlines just how important this is on both sides of the debate.
Lindsay Doyle: Yes. Yes.
Tom Clark: Lindsay Doyle from the Liberals; Robin Sears, NDP and Rick Anderson from the Conservatives. Thank you all very much for being here. I appreciate your time.
Well, up next, we will unpack the politics of how the Liberals plan to pay for their promises. And we’ll look ahead to the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations and what that may mean for the campaign.
Tom Clark: Well time to unpack the politics of this past week and start packing for next week. I’m joined by Mark Kennedy, the Parliamentary Bureau Chief for the Ottawa Citizen; Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star and an author, and our old friend, Evan Solomon, Sirius XM Radio Everything is Politics. Good to have you all here.
Okay, so when I interviewed Justin Trudeau earlier in the show and of course that interview was done yesterday before the costing came out. He said, believe it or not, a politician actually used the words, “trust me, I’ve got this”. So, you’ve all had a chance to look at the Liberal numbers, should we trust him? Has he got it?
Mark Kennedy: Well he has—anytime a politician goes to voters and this really dates back to 1993. I remember Jean Chrétien coming up with what he called, “I have the people”. That was his candidates. “And I have the plan”. Okay? He held up that red book over and over and over to give himself credibility. And on that basis, it helped him get elected. And ever since, a lot of politicians have to know, they have to come up with one of these things to give themselves credibility. This’ll probably give him a day or two of credibility, maybe more.
Evan Solomon: This is not a red book, this is a—it looks like a great pamphlet. There are some numbers in here for sure. He’s going to book $3 billion dollars in tax expenditures from a spending review and they’re going to close some loopholes. Look, at this point, any time—they’re doing this on a Saturday morning, this is what you would call a political fig leaf to cover up, okay if you’re worried about our numbers, we’ve got something in the future you can hold us to account what the Parliamentary Budget Officer says. The action is moving away from the calculators and towards the ground game of the campaign and the bigger issues in these debates that they’re talking about which is—Trudeau’s fundamental message is, spending, but not the fine print.
Tom Clark: Well, and this is this is the point Susan, because he had to inoculate himself against charges that he didn’t know what he was doing with numbers and I think that’s probably the only hill he had to climb and therefore, in your view, did he achieve that? Has he inoculated himself? Can the discussion now move on or is he still open to attacks on that?
Susan Delacourt: I think he’s probably assured some critics who really—you know I saw the interview you did with him. He’s not just sort of dabbling in the numbers, he’s studied. He knows what he’s talking about. To Mark’s point, this is the reverse though of the old red book because the red book was to assure people that Liberals weren’t going to take the country into debt in 1993. This is assuring people that they are going to take us into a deficit, to spend money because they think that’s where the votes are to be had in this one, which makes it sort of a neat bookend to that—pardon the pun, to what happened in 1993.
Tom Clark: I want to move on to something where the control isn’t as absolute as it is on messaging like that and that is what’s going to happen next week in Atlanta. This is the final round of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), one of the biggest trade deals. The biggest trade deal in the history of the world. Canada is going down, clearly is going to be part of it. There are reports out that we are opening up our markets already to American dairy farmers so that American cheese and butter and yogurt can start coming up here. The Canadian dairy industry has said this is an absolute disaster. It’s the end of Canadian dairy farms. Coming at this stage in the campaign, what difference is this going to make? I mean, we had heard for years that the reason that all parties supported supply management was because of those critical votes in Quebec and Ontario among the dairy farmers.
Mark Kennedy: This is a huge risk for Stephen Harper but it could also pay off for him. I remember going to the White House with Stephen Harper three years ago, at which point, he was making the case to Barack Obama that Canada ought to be at the table. Ultimately, we were invited to the table. Canadians may not know this; this is a massive trade deal. You think from the free trade with the US was big, this is even bigger. So from Harper’s perspective, if Canada was not at the table, if Canada emerged without a deal, we would be totally isolated. On the other hand, if he gives, and he will, because when you’re at the table you have to make concessions. If he gives to the Americans on dairy, he’s going to have to explain it to those farmers in Eastern Ontario and Quebec and there’ll have to be money on the table to help them out.
Tom Clark: And it’s the automotive industry too.
Evan Solomon: Right. Well this is about fishing where the fishes are. For Stephen Harper in Quebec, supply management, they always say and I just got notes from some of the Conservatives negotiating saying we will do the best deal in Canada. We will not make significant concessions. What does that mean? Well define that, it’s very important. Look, every trade deal means some concessions of some kind. In this case, if he has to give up quotas on dairy, there’s going to be a lot of dairy farmers very angry about it, but those aren’t the farmers in Quebec that he needs. He needs the Quebec City ones, not the francophone dairy farmers that those voters are never going to go Tory. On the auto, it’s true, you have Jerry Dias from Unifor, saying that if the changes in terms of the percentage of what a car has to be manufactured in Canada has changed from the NAFTA deal and is diluted, they’ll go crazy. Are those voters going to go Conservative? No. So Stephen Harper is prepared to give up some voters, why? Because he wants to say, I’m the trade deal economy guy, that’s his wheel house.
Tom Clark: Your expertise is shopping for votes and micro targeting, how’s this going to play through that filter?
Susan Delacourt: Well, my first question about this, is I confess, I didn’t read them before I came here, but I wonder about a government making a trade deal in the middle of an election.
Tom Clark: I think they’ve got no choice.
Susan Delacourt: Yeah, the timing is no choice, but it is a risky thing to do. You know it’s not normal for a government to be going around making trade deals in the middle of an election.
Tom Clark: And we should point out too that the NDP and the Liberals all say that they’re staunch supporters of supply management. Although in that interview with Pierre—with Justin Trudeau, he wouldn’t go so far as to say it was a deal breaker, so I guess we’re beginning to see cracks among all parties on this.
Evan Solomon: Well they don’t control the timing of the deal for one.
Tom Clark: No.
Evan Solomon: And the second thing is we don’t know the details of this and that’s a legitimate criticism.
Mark Kennedy: But there will be drawbacks and you know that Mr. Harper is going to accentuate the positive. And the positive is going to be on the broader strokes, we got a deal and we’re part of it.
Susan Delacourt: But do people vote for trade deals? I’m not sure that this is—it may play to an overall narrative, but I think I’m with Evan on this one, that I think the campaign is moving into far less about numbers and trade deals and more into the realm of emotion.
Tom Clark: Let me ask all of you about that because we are going into the next phase. We’ve got two debates coming up this coming week. We’ve got foreign policy debate and then we’ve got another French language debate at the end of the week which are sort of going to be the centrepieces of what we’re going to be looking at, as well as TPP. But what happens in a campaign because it has all been setting the narrative so far. I mean stuff like coming out with numbers and that sort of thing. Where do we move to the emotional close in this campaign and who’s got the best shot at making that emotional close?
Mark Kennedy: Campaigns are always about values. We hear it all the time from whoever—whichever party come at us. So on this one, the value is, how do we treat our minorities and is it proper for a government to tell a minority how to dress?
Tom Clark: You’re talking about Niqabs.
Mark Kennedy: Yes.
Evan Solomon: Campaigns have the three phases, right? Introduce the candidate. Introduce the policy and then the emotional close. Now some might want it to be the Niqab and that’s a hot debate and I get it. I was speaking to a Liberal strategist and they were talking about, not just the kind of interview that you just did with Justin, but about the debate. And Justin kept repeating those same points about the economy, time and time again. And they said—their point was, only 32 per cent of voters in Quebec and maybe across the country really care about that Niqab ballot box question and they won’t vote for us anyway. But, you know 70, 80 per cent of the voters, they believe care about the middle class and they believe infrastructure and these kinds of issues. And that’s why his focus is not the details, but to repeat, you want something in the window, we’re about these tax breaks and that’s his pitch.
Tom Clark: Last 30 seconds to you, Susan.
Susan Delacourt: I think you’re going to see Trudeau trying to do the Regan morning in American kind of thing, the sunny optimism. Everybody wants to control hope. That’s the big thing in an election. I think that’s what Trudeau is going to try for in the next few weeks.
Evan Solomon: I think that’s dangerous. I think this next phase is going to be unleashing very wild spirits.
Mark Kennedy: Harper wants every voter in the ballot box to be thinking about their taxes and Justin wants to be thinking about a better Canada.
Susan Delacourt: Right.
Tom Clark: Yeah. And, the air war is about to start. If you thought you’ve seen campaign commercials up to this point, wow just wait a second. Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star, Evan Solomon of Sirius XM Radio, and Mark Kennedy of the Ottawa Citizen, thank you both—all rather, for being here. I appreciate your time.
Well coming up next, award winning singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk on why humanitarianism should be on the list of election issues in this campaign. Stay tuned.
Tom Clark: Throughout this campaign, we’ve been talking to some prominent Canadians about this election and what issues they feel deserve some attention. Today, our conversation with the renowned singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk:
A few days ago, Chantal and her husband, Raine Maida, were honoured by the Governor General with the Order of Canada. Not as you might suspect for their musical careers alone, but for this.
Chantal Kreviazuk: Ask him if he wants to play a game?
Tom Clark: Chantal walks the walk when it comes to her support for charities, such as War Child. Her travels and her work overseas, has made her think about Canada’s role in the world and to question our foreign policy goals.
A few days ago, I caught up with at a recording studio in Vancouver.
The amount of travel that you’ve done to the troubled spots of this planet and you end up with a song that sort of sums it up for you a little bit. Could you play a little bit of Redemption?
(Chantal sings her song, Redemption)
Tom Clark: Chantal, thanks very much for being here.
Chantal Kreviazuk: Thank you for having me, Tom.
Tom Clark: What issue are we not talking about in this campaign that you think we should be talking about?
Chantal Kreviazuk: Well, that is a good question. I had a very hard time deciding what issue I felt was the poignant, but the development, at least in the media, of the Syrian refugee crisis really got me to thinking because that’s an obvious issue that everyone is talking about. But, the not obvious piece, is sustaining how we aid the 60 million refugees in the world. There’s 12 million in Syria, but there are millions of refugees all over the planet, from Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq and other places. And so, the question for me is not—you know everyone’s got—they’re upset, but what about four years from now? And what about everyone else that isn’t in the media are creating a fire of the story?
Tom Clark: Does it come down in your mind then to how effective Canada is on the international stage and how we operate on the international stage because you’ve got a lot of experience with that.
Chantal Kreviazuk: Yeah, and I think that when I’ve travelled in the world—you know, Canada, we have this reputation for being principled statesmen and we’re kind and we’re generous. And so I feel that we have this reputation, but I question how legitimate it is now. I feel decisions were made in say the 70’s that allowed us to have this beautiful reputation, but today I’m wondering, what are we really doing when our GNI contribution is at .24, I believe right now, per cent. I don’t think that’s high enough.
Tom Clark: That’s the foreign you’re talking about.
Chantal Kreviazuk: Yeah, in foreign aid.
Tom Clark: Yeah.
Chantal Kreviazuk: I don’t feel that that is high enough. And so, this concerns me.
Tom Clark: So let me ask you then, because in politics, politics is always a choice and politics is always a matter of trying to get people interested in certain issues to bring it up the chain, so to speak. So, you talk about the idea specifically about Canada stepping up to the plate and increasing the amount of foreign aid and increasing our exposure to that part of the world. How do you convince somebody around the dinner table that this is an issue that deserves to be on that top tier of issues that we’re all looking at?
Chantal Kreviazuk: It’s almost—it’s scary if you think about it, how it’s almost like dangerous to look away and hope that they’re just going to stay there and things will work out and dangerous to think of letting people in and not supporting them as well. So, we’re each other’s people. We’re going to end up living together and we’re either going to live together in harmony or we’re going to live together in some kind of conflict in spite.
Tom Clark: Let me describe a sort of theoretical couple. We’ve just had some unemployment numbers in Canada come out and unemployment is going up. People are losing their jobs, especially here out west. And somebody comes to them and says you know what, we’re going to bring in 10,000 Syrian refugees. I know you’ve just lost your job, but you ought to pitch in and help out. And they’re sitting there and saying, wait a minute, I just lost my job and now you’re bringing in other people. They’re going to have to work as well. You’ve increased the competition. So, now that we have that imaginary couple, what do you say to them?
Chantal Kreviazuk: I do believe that the very first thing that has to be addressed is the dignity of other people and I think that it’s a security issue, quite frankly. I really do. I think that the security issue outweighs the issue that you’re bringing up. I think that those are the kinds of things where people go, well what about my job? Yeah, a 150 per cent, what about your job? And we do need to address it, but the security issue is so massive. We need to collaborate and we need to come up with solutions and we do need to look at how to help others. And, I also would add, that it’s not just about letting people into our country because I don’t know the number. Is it 10,000 people? Is it 200,000 people that we should be letting in? I don’t know the number. But I think that with 60 million refugees on the planet, not just the 12 million in Syria, it’s more about looking at a long term sustainable approach to these issues. It’s more about looking at aid and development and education within the regions. So, I feel that in the future, we need to create a world in which people can live within their culture, within their own nation, within their own homes. They should not be split apart from each other and they should be taken away from their own borders. They should not.
Tom Clark: Can I ask you this, that on October 20th, whoever the prime minister is and you have a meeting with the prime minister. And you say, prime minister, I’m here to tell you to do one thing, what do you think that would be?
Chantal Kreviazuk: Don’t miss out on the opportunity to bring the spirit of humanitarianism and the spirit of generosity and engagement that Canada has to offer on the world stage.
Tom Clark: Chantal, I want to thank you for putting this issue on the table during the election campaign.
Chantal Kreviazuk: Oh, thank you very much. It’s my pleasure.
Tom Clark: It really makes a difference.
Chantal Kreviazuk: Thank you.
Tom Clark: Well coming up next, walking on the bizarre side of the campaign trail with Jason Kenney.
Tom Clark: Well just a final thought, the Clark rule of elections: when candidates start saying some really, really silly things. Watch out, they’re getting worried, which brings us to Jason Kenney, the minister of everything in the Harper government and easily one of the most personable. Why would an otherwise reasonable, smart man declare as he did on Friday, that Justin Trudeau wants to force cities to accept brothels? Yes, Liberal brothels in our cities. Apparently you can make this stuff up. The Liberals of course stand for no such thing. Now, Kenney’s not the only one saying strange things these days. Lots of NDP and Liberal candidates have been dumb and insulting too, but my advice to the good minister, stop looking at the polls sir and try and get some rest.
Well, coming up in the coming week, we’ve got two more debates; one on Monday, one on Friday. And of course, there’s going to be a lot more polls and probably what they will show, is great instability. It’s going to be a wild week ahead. Thanks for being here. See you back here next Sunday.