April 29, 2018 11:13 am
Updated: April 29, 2018 11:54 am

The West Block

Watch the full broadcast of The West Block from Sunday, April 29, 2018.


Episode 34, Season 7
Sunday, April 29, 2018

Host: Eric Sorensen

Guest Interviews: Minister Catherine McKenna, Minister François-Philippe Champagne,
Adama Iwu

Location: Ottawa

On this Sunday, western provinces push back over pipeline jurisdiction and carbon pricing. We’ll ask the federal environment minister how her government plans to deal with very different battles that two provinces are taking to court.

Story continues below

Then, NAFTA talks intensify. A May 1st deadline looms on U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. What’s at stake for this country? And why is Ottawa launching new identity trade missions?

And the silence breakers: their voices created the MeToo movement. What are the next steps to end sexual harassment and employment inequities for women?

It’s Sunday, April the 29th. I’m Eric Sorensen, and this is The West Block.

So, the horns of a dilemma for Environment Minister Catherine McKenna: B.C. and Saskatchewan are both launching court challenges, pulling Ottawa in diametrically opposite directions. The federal government’s grand bargain was carbon pricing to help the environment, and a new pipeline to help the economy till this country can become greener. But B.C. doesn’t want the pipeline and Saskatchewan doesn’t want carbon taxes, so what can Ottawa do? We’ll start first with British Columbia’s challenge. And joining us now from Parliament Hill is Environment Minister Catherine McKenna.

Minster McKenna, you’ve proposed to be B.C. a scientific advisory panel. They are referring the matter to the B.C. Court of Appeal (BCCA) anyway. What does this do to the May 31st deadline? Realistically, can you keep Kinder Morgan in it and is it going to go past May 31st, now?

Minister Catherine McKenna: So we’ve been clear that this project is going to go ahead. It’s a project that went through a full review and it has 157 binding conditions. That was approved by the British Columbia government a year ago and also our government. And we’ve been clear, we’re looking at a full range of measures, legal measures, and we’re also in discussions with the company, and we’re not going to be having discussions in public, but we’re committed to this project.

In terms of the letter that I wrote to my B.C. counterpart, I mean one of the main purposes of that letter was to point out that we were very disappointed that the government of British Columbia ignored all of the work that’s been done on oceans and protecting the coasts. I noted, and I think it’s for the purposes of people in B.C., because we care greatly about the oceans and the coast, I noticed the conditions on the project that are legally binding are $1.5 billion ocean protections plan, that that was the previous government of B.C., emphasized the need to make more investments and we made investments, including reopening the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station. And then there’s also the science. We’ve been doing science on oil spills, on diluted bitumen for over 30 years, so I think it’s really important that people of B.C. are confident that we have measures in place that we took into account concerns about protecting the oceans and that we are committed to this project.

Eric Sorensen: But it’s going to the courts now. It’s going to go past; it would seem, past May 31st. What will it take? What will it cost to keep the project going if Kinder Morgan will even stay in it?

Minister Catherine McKenna: Well we’re having discussions directly with the company. As I say, we’re not going to have those discussions in public. We’re committed to this project. We think it’s a good project. It fits within our climate plan. We have the protections in place for our oceans, but it also creates good jobs, not just in Alberta, but in British Columbia, across the country and it contributes to economic growth. But it pays for programs like health care, like education and we can do both. I’ve always said the environment and the economy go together and we’re demonstrating that we’re taking strict measures to protect our environment, smart measures, but we also need good projects to go ahead. And we’re in a transition. We’re moving to a cleaner future, but we want our natural resources to go to market.

Eric Sorensen: It seems there is still uncertainty about Indigenous support. There has been much made of 43 Indigenous groups that supported. Opponents say there are 50+ that are against it. Is there anything more you can do besides consulting and explaining that will satisfy Indigenous opponents?

Minister Catherine McKenna: Well we’ve had many consultations with Indigenous peoples. As you point out, 43 Indigenous communities have impact benefit agreements with the proponent, $300 million or more in value. And you know, we listen to the concerns and we take these concerns extremely seriously, but we move forward. And as I said, this project, we made the decision to approve this project over a year ago. The government of British Columbia approved it over a year ago, and we can’t re-litigate projects every time a new government comes into place. It does not create investor certainty, nor does it really help protect our environment. And as I say, I spend a lot of time talking about how the environment and the economy go together. When we make project decisions, we’re very clear at looking at the environmental impacts, the climate impacts, engaging with Indigenous peoples, making sure we make decisions on science and evidence, and that’s exactly what we did with this project. And as I say, the projects, you know, we’re committed to the project going ahead. We’re looking at all range of options and also having direct discussions with the proponent.

Eric Sorensen: What do you make of this dichotomy between Saskatchewan and British Columbia? Each of them seems to suggest you have certain powers, but that you don’t have other powers and they’re on the complete opposite sides with respect to pipelines and carbon pricing. I mean is Canada working?

Minister Catherine McKenna: I think Canada’s working fine. It’s, you know, the federal government is going to look after the national interest. And in 2015, Canadians voted for a government that was committed to protecting the environment and taking action on climate change and also making sure that we had a robust system to approve projects. And so, you know, we have provinces, you know, in the same week we have Saskatchewan saying we don’t have jurisdiction to put a price on pollution which we do. We have the province of B.C. saying we don’t have jurisdiction to approve major projects like pipelines, which we do. And I’m going to continue talking to Canadians. I mean that’s my focus. My focus is explaining to Canadians that we care greatly about the environment, that we actually think it’s a huge opportunity to position Canada as a leader in clean innovation. That includes how we develop our natural resources and that we can both protect the environment, but also get our resources to market and grow our economy.

Eric Sorensen: Fair enough, Canadians are hearing you make the case again and again. What they’re not clear on is just how this goes forward. Can you give us a framework, a timeline for how you settle the score with B.C. and Saskatchewan, how long it’s going to take? And if there are costs involved, what would that be?

Minister Catherine McKenna: I mean so there are obviously two different questions—they’re two different questions. On the Kinder Morgan, the Trans Mountain expansion, we recognize the company has set a deadline. We’re working with the. We believe it’s a good project. It should go ahead. And I mean in terms of putting a price on pollution, we have said that government need to step up and put a price on pollution and indicate how they’re going to do so by the end of the year. And let’s be clear, 80 per cent of Canadians live in a province where there’s price on pollution already. That’s Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. And the good news is we’ve seen that those are the fastest growing economies in the country and the clean solutions and clean technologies.

Eric Sorensen: Ms. McKenna, we’re out of time. Thanks very much for talking to us, today.

Minister Catherine McKenna: Great, thanks very much.

Eric Sorensen: Up next, as NAFTA talks intensify and U.S. tariffs loom, the trade minister announces three identity trade missions. He’ll join us after the break.


Eric Sorensen: Welcome back. On Tuesday, U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum take effect. Canada is exempt for now, while a new NAFTA deal is being negotiated. Those talks intensified in Washington last week. Foreign Affairs Minister Freeland cancelling other plans to take part. There is pressure to get a deal before Mexican elections, which are now just two months away. And here at home, the trade minister announced new so-called identity trade missions. What’s that about? We caught up with International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne on Friday, to talk, trade.

Joining us now, Minister Champagne. Thank you for being here. You know what the first question is when it comes to NAFTA talks, are we close? And I guess I would put that in terms of can you quantify for us sort of how far we’ve come and maybe how much further there is to go.

Minister François-Philippe Champagne: Well first of all, I’d say welcome back. It’s great to have you back and I’d say, you know, the mood is good in Washington. You know, we’ve made significant progress on the auto sector, which as you know is a very key sector in our Canadian economy. I’ll remain cautiously optimistic because you know how negotiations are going. Things that was tough at the time of Brian Mulroney remains tough today. Whether you talk about public procurement, whether you talk about Chapter 19, whether you talk about rules of origin, but, you know, what we saw in Washington this week is good progress and I think this is what Canadians expect from us, is to be at the table to make progress, but stand firm. Stand firm for the workers across Canada. Stand firm for the industries of Canada.

Eric Sorensen: Are you standing firm on the Sunset clause? It sounds like the Americans would like to have a clause where they can effectively terminate the deal or at least threaten to terminate it every so many years.

Minister François-Philippe Champagne: Well, we’ve said it. I mean it’s completely unnecessary. You know, the big thing in North America, I’ve said many, many times is there are three things: How can we make North America more competitive? How can we build more North America? And how can we sell together to the world? I mean that should be our primary objective, so anything that goes against that philosophy is not conducive of that. We want a win, win, win situation. We need to do that. We need to have rules that will empower workers and industries across our nation, to continue in these very integrated supply chains that we have in North America.

Eric Sorensen: Whenever we have key player on the NAFTA talks, I want to talk not just about NAFTA, but about the fact that we’re talking about NAFTA with a Trump administration. Mr. Lighthizer now is on his way, it seems, to China. China is a front burner issue for Washington. Talk to me about that challenge of conducting these negotiations with all the turmoil that is kind of in the background of the Trump administration.

Minister François-Philippe Champagne: Well I can tell you as the international trade minister of Canada, for me I’ve been advocating around the world, rule based trade. You know, we want open, fair and rule based trade. This is what we are promoting, not just here in Canada and we’d say with our partners, but around the world. You know, I was just talking with G7 members saying that, for example, Canada is at the centre of trade. We’re the only country with a free trade agreement with all of their G7 partners. So I think Canada has the potential to really influence the world. When you look at our progressive and inclusive trade agenda, I remind Canadians, I say Canadians have given us a broad mandate to engage in trade, but not at the expense of the environment, not at the expense of labour standards, not at the expense of governance principle. They want these trade agreements in the 21st century to reinforce these.

Eric Sorensen: Are you getting there on labour standards because, you know, Jerry Dias, the union leader says well let’s wait till after the Mexican election and get a progressive government in there because Washington, surprisingly, doesn’t seem to be putting, higher wages in Mexico as a sort of a main issue right now and that was an important one for Canada. That was something we could get behind them on so that wages go up in Mexico and you don’t have plants being shut or maybe as readily above the Mexican border.

Minister François-Philippe Champagne: Well, you know, those are complex discussions. You know, they go around labour standards rules of origin, so you would not expect me to negotiate it in public. But what I can say is that obviously, we’re looking into that. Canada has always been at the forefront. You saw, for example, when we did our trade agreement with Europe, we had the first trade agreement where we had an environment chapter. We had a labour chapter, the same with the CPTPP. Within the Asia-Pacific, we have the first ever labour chapter, which is enforceable. So we’re always at the forefront of making sure that these standards become higher. Like I say, this is not a race to the bottom in terms of standards. This is a march to the top. So every time we want Canada to play a leading role in engaging other nations to make sure that they understand the benefit of having strong standards to protect our workers, protect our industries, and obviously, work for the people.

Eric Sorensen: You mentioned the Pacific trade. The developments in North Korea, we spoke with an expert from UBC, Paul Evans. He said, you know, when you get to the point we’re at now, this is where Canada can reengage on education, humanitarian, presumably on trade. What do you see now for Canada to reengage with the region?

Minister François-Philippe Champagne: Well, you know, this is a situation that is unfolding. But let me say one, as the international trade minister, always look at four things: education, tourism, culture and trade. I think this is the way you have to look at a package to make Canada attractive. And when it comes to the Asia-Pacific, I mean we wrote a chapter just recently by signing up to the CPTPP. You know, Canada is the second largest economy after Japan in that grouping. And what we did, Eric, is that we helped write the rules of trade in the Asia Pacific region. This is a significant achievement. You know, when we were at the table, it was as much about Joe politics as it was as much about trade, because now what we have ensured is that there’s a block of country in the Asia-Pacific region, which will have rule based trade, fair and open trade. And obviously, as you would expect, many other nations have indicated their desire to join, whether it’s South Korea, whether it’s Taiwan and even the U.K. has said that they would like to join in that grouping.

Eric Sorensen: And wouldn’t it be something if North Korea ended up being a party to that. I want to ask you one more thing because we’re running short of time.

Minister François-Philippe Champagne: Well, we’re not there yet.

Eric Sorensen: No, we’re not there yet. But it’s interesting to speculate it at this moment in time, and that is on your trade missions that are coming up that will deal with specifics like LGBTQ2, women’s business, Indigenous business. Some have said well this seems to be kind of creating silos instead of a, you know, broad based trade where you kind of connect everybody.

Minister François-Philippe Champagne: Well we’re doing both. This is the great thing, you know, in our inclusive trade agenda, I thought about the progressive side before, which it’s not only the smart thing to do but it’s the right thing to do. But when I say inclusive, then the groups you mentioned, whether it’s women owned businesses, we want these to be engaged in more international trade. Same things with Indigenous people, same thing with youth, same thing with the LGBTQ2 community. But what we’re doing at the same time, you may remember, I was on a trade mission in France just last week with the prime minister, where we talked about artificial intelligence and green technologies. I was talking with CNOOC Nexen, for example, which has a trade mission in China, to bring our SMEs in the oil and gas sector of Alberta, to give in the market. So, the good thing is that we’re doing both. I was really surprised by the criticism because what we want is more sectors engaging in international trade and more people, because trade is about people. So what we’re saying is that those who have been under represented historically, we’re going to try to work with them, whether it’s SMEs, youth and bring them along, and at the same time, featuring sectors, just like we did last week in France.

Eric Sorensen: Minister Champagne, thank you for talking to us.

Minister François-Philippe Champagne: It’s always a pleasure, thank you. Welcome back, again.

Eric Sorensen: Up next, the MeToo movement sees victory in the courts. How is it fairing in the court of public opinion, the challenges to end sexual inequality.


Eric Sorensen: Welcome back. The MeToo movement is celebrating a victory: three guilty verdicts for sexual assault against U.S. comedian, Bill Cosby. It has been a whirlwind of change for women to be heard since last fall. Powerful and famous men have been called to account for sexual harassment and worse. The silence breakers were recognized by Time Magazine as Person of the Year. I sat down with one of the silence breakers, Adama Iwu, to talk about where we are now.

Adama Iwu, thank you for joining us. You’re the head of government relations for Visa, so you’re at the intersection of government policy and corporate interests. And you were talking about this last year—just as recently as last year and you had your own moment where you could say me too.

Adama Iwu: Unfortunately, like many women, I can say me too. I’ve been at a political event and I was sexually harassed. It happened in front of a group of people and nobody really stepped in and did anything. And it was pretty bad timing because we had just kind of heard the Weinstein tape that had come out and we’d heard some of the things he was saying, very coercive, really crude things. And I had already kind of been on like a slow burn about that, and then the next day, being sexually harassed, I just decided this is ridiculous. This happens in politics just like it happens in many other industries and I want to do something about it. I want to not just brush it under the rug, or sweep it away, or ignore it, or laugh it off. I want to do something about it. And it turned out a lot of women wanted to do something about it, so 147 of us wrote a letter talking about the pervasive nature of sexual harassment in politics and it really went viral. It was in the Los Angeles Times and people have reached out to me from all over the world. We started a non-profit and we are working pretty much full-time on these issues, especially around workplace violence and in politics.

Eric Sorensen: And it really has snowballed, you know, from Harvey Weinstein, to just this past week, Bill Cosby, was convicted. And I don’t know if there’s any connection there at all, but it seems like, you know, is society getting it now? Like are we past the point of no return going back to the old attitudes?

Adama Iwu: Gosh, I hope so. It seems like things are changing. People come forward and they’re being believed in ways that we’ve never seen before. The Cosby thing has been a long time coming. I mean they were able to cover an entire magazine cover of women who said that, you know, they had been sexually abused by him. And I really—when I see verdicts like this, I really only think of the victims, the women who were brave enough to come forward and tell their stories and put themselves up to public ridicule.

Eric Sorensen: I want to ask you a little bit about backlash because this past week we had this terrible van rampage in Toronto. And the term incel arose, involuntary celibates. There is a kind of a misogynistic aspect to some within that community and they seem to be—there seems to be a backlash against women, whether it’s over sexual relations or feminism or what have you. Is that to be expected in the same way that we saw with the civil rights movement that there was always a backlash that came after advancements were made?

Adama Iwu: Yeah, and part of this is, there’s always going to be people who hate other people for their own reasons. And I don’t want to spend too much talking about that or glorifying that. But there is a backlash. You can always expect a backlash because we are challenging very deeply engrained and widely accepted power structures and power never gives up power without a fight. And that’s really what we’re doing here. We’re trying to pull apart those power structures that would, you know, systemically and systematically hold people back, marginalize people. Women, people of colour, Indigenous people, LGBTQ, any kind of underrepresented population, we’re pushing back against those power structures.

Eric Sorensen: We—I sat in on a panel with you and the federal minister Patty Hajdu this past week. And she said that a colleague, a man, said to her recently, ‘I like the dress you’re wearing. It’s a nice dress. Oh, can I say that? Is that alright?’ And she says, ‘Yes, yes you can say that.’ And you answered–?

Adama Iwu: ‘Just don’t touch it.’

Eric Sorensen: Yes, and I thought—and the room broke up because yeah, I get that. Don’t touch the dress. But I think for men, they’re not sure what it is that’s appropriate to say now because, you know, it’s how you might say that about that dress. You could say it with a certain tone and that wouldn’t be taken the right way, so what is your advice to men right now in this changing environment?

Adama Iwu: Well, my advice to men is the same as my advice to women. This really is an opportunity for us to recalibrate and check what we’re doing, check your privilege, check your intensions because it really isn’t about your intension. You might just be someone who likes to give a compliment or who likes to give a hug when you meet people, but you don’t know what the person you are coming to. You don’t know what has happened to them in the past. You don’t know what baggage they’re bringing to that same interaction that might make them feel threatened or vulnerable. So just ask. Very simple say, ‘You know what? I really like your suit, it’s lovely. Are you comfortable with me saying that? ‘Or, you know, ‘Hi, I’m a hugger. Are you comfortable with that?’ I think that’s fine to do.

Eric Sorensen: Yeah, and that’s hard to know sort of what is intended because I mean not many men look at a guy across the way and say, ‘Nice tie. I like the lapel.’

Adama Iwu: You guys don’t do that?

Eric Sorensen: No.

Adama Iwu: Why don’t you—you should do that more.

Eric Sorensen: We probably should. You know, this is a program about government policy, what would be your advice to say, the Canadian government, but, you know, governments in North America? There is legislation going through here in Ottawa on workplace and harassment policy, what would you say to government?

Adama Iwu: Well, I mean I would never presume to tell government what they should do. But, I do think that government leads and they have the opportunity to set the tone, set large structures, power structures in place and set intensions for the country. I think that’s incredibly important. Talking to the minister about her legislation, it’s incredibly important that people are protected in their workplace and every workplace, that those protections are the same for everyone.

Eric Sorensen: And the path forward, are things happening quickly enough? Or is it going to be a long slog?

Adama Iwu: I think we’ve been on a long slog. I kind of say that as long as it’s taken a problem to exist and continue to perpetuate, it takes that long to fix it. So I don’t think anyone is looking for quick answers or quick fixes, but we are looking for people to be engaged and stay engaged.

Eric Sorensen: Thanks for talking to us, today.

Adama Iwu: Thanks for having me.

Eric Sorensen: And that is The West Block for today. Thanks for joining us. I’m Eric Sorensen. See you next week.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Report an error


Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.