The West Block
THE WEST BLOCK
Episode 41, Season 7
Sunday, June 17, 2018
Host: Eric Sorensen
Guest Interviews: John Manley, Minister Ralph Goodale, Senator Tony Dean
Food for Thought: Nancy Greene Raine
On this Sunday, tariffs wooing allies in Washington and standing in solidarity across party lines. What’s Canada’s strategy to win a trade war against the Americans? We’ll ask Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.
Then, it’s the Trudeau government’s most anticipated piece of legislation: the bill to legalize cannabis. It made it back to the House of Commons but will it be smooth sailing from there? We’re joined by Senator Tony Dean.
And, former Senator Nancy Greene Raine joins us for some ‘food for thought’ about junk food and children.
It’s Sunday, June the 17th. I’m Eric Sorensen, and this is The West Block.
Well, American sleeping bags, ketchup and toilet paper. Those are just some of the goods that will be subject to new tariffs on July 1st. It’s part of the brewing trade war instigated by President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.
Late last week, Canadian cabinet ministers met with allies in Washington, got their backing on trade, but is the Oval Office listening, as businesses on both sides of the border brace for pain.
In a moment: Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. First, here’s former Deputy Prime Minister and CEO of the Business Council of Canada, John Manley on dealing with President Trump.
John Manley: I think he’s a bit pathological in his desire to be the centre of attention and I think that, you know, you probably should consult and maybe Prime Minister Trudeau should consult with, I don’t know, a psychologist or somebody to say how do I deal with an important counterpart who has this tendency to a narcissistic personality disorder. I think it’s very tough. This breaks all the rules of international engagement that any of us have learned in our lifetimes.
Well ultimately, you know, tariffs that are imposed by your government are paid for by your citizens, your businesses, your companies and your consumers. So when we’re retaliating, it’s not the Americans that pay those tariffs, it’s us. And so I think you increase the cost of doing business in Canada.
Eric Sorensen: Joining us now is Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. Mr. Goodale, that’s your old colleague, John Manley. He can be a bit blunter; he’s out of government now. But you’re dealing with the U.S. president who is emotional now about Canada. How do you deal with that or is that necessary to deal with his emotions?
Minister Ralph Goodale: Well, I think you need to be calm and clear and resolute, and avoid anything that sounds like an ad hominem attack. Focus on the facts and make the case for Canada as clearly and as strongly as we can. We’ve been doing that. We’ll continue to do that. We need to make sure that Canadians stay fully united and strong and unified together.
Eric Sorensen: Thank you, President Trump.
Minister Ralph Goodale: Well, it’s certainly contributed a strong measure of Canadian unity, just the end of the week, Chrystia Freeland standing shoulder to shoulder with the premier-elect of Ontario. The premier of Saskatchewan a week before was in Washington carrying the Canadian message very strongly. There’s complete cohesion among the Canadian side. And more than anything else, we need to make sure that stays that way.
Eric Sorensen: But the tariffs are here now. How will they hurt? How should Canadians be dealing with them and preparing for them because, you know, there comes a point in which the counter tariffs, etc., this is all going to hurt. And so the goodwill you’re getting from Canadians right now, that may not last.
Minister Ralph Goodale: Well, we have said throughout this that we would prefer not to get into this situation that we were imposing our retaliation more out of sorrow than anger, but we would stand firm for Canada and for Canadians. We would define our worker, defend our industries that employ those workers and do so in a way that was absolutely measured and proportionate so that it was dollar for dollar in relation to what the American tariffs had done to us.
Eric Sorensen: It is President Trump’s style to want the opponent in this case, to pay a price. He says Canadians are going to pay. More is what he’s suggesting. I mean do the tariffs increase the pressure on us to give on NAFTA? Is that what this is about?
Minister Ralph Goodale: Well, who knows what his ultimate tactic or—
Eric Sorensen: But does it increase the pressure on you?
Minister Ralph Goodale: Well, these are pressure packed negotiations right from the very beginning. The idea of retaliating is to make the point to the United States that they’re action—which we think is illegal, as well as being very ill-advised and certainly it has no basis in national security—our retaliatory tariffs are intended to make the point to the United States there is a cost to you. And for every one job that you may think you are either saving or creating in steel, you’re probably losing 10 or 15 elsewhere in the U.S. economy because they have a trade surplus in steel with us today, $2 billion. We are their biggest customer for buying steel, so there is no economic logic and there’s no political logic in what is done. We will be clear and firm. And somebody in the U.S. political system said the other day: Don’t doubt the resolve of a Canadian.
Eric Sorensen: Minister Freeland wants to get the talks back on track for NAFTA, expects to see a greater push this summer. The prime minister suggested that supply management and dairy is something where there’s something to give. Can you be more frank about just that you’ve got to give something there because that is such an important one to Trump even if it is just about Wisconsin and the electoral map.
Minister Ralph Goodale: Well one thing we have to explain to the United States is that even with their complaints about supply management, they have a heavier degree of subsidization in the United States than exists in Canada and they have a trade surplus with Canada of $333 million a year in dairy. So we’ve been clear that we will defend our dairy farmers.
Eric Sorensen: Something has to be given in that area and I don’t mean give, but that there’s got to be a change that’s probably afoot in that regard just because you’ve heard him over and over again, emphasize that one.
Minister Ralph Goodale: Well, again, we emphasize back. Under the trade rules that have existed for the last 10 years, more than that actually, but the statistics over the last 10 years, indicate that American farm goods exported to Canada have increased by 46 per cent and they have a $1.9 billion surplus overall with Canada. We’re going to stick to the facts and defend the Canadian case, which is very clear that their form of subsidization in the United States is different, but it’s subsidization nonetheless. And Canadian dairy farmers are not the problem that’s causing difficulty for the U.S. Their problem is a system that by its very nature causes structural surpluses, which they have to find a way to dispose of. That is a problem that their system created, not ours.
Eric Sorensen: You said you’ve been around for some time.
Minister Ralph Goodale: Yeah.
Eric Sorensen: I count back to the 1970s. Have you ever seen anything quite like this in dealing with this administration?
Minister Ralph Goodale: There have been points of tension and dispute with the United States in the past. You’ll remember the arguments with John Diefenbaker and others, if you go back a long enough time. But certainly, in terms of the modern relationship with the United States, this tension is about as extreme as it has been.
Eric Sorensen: It sounds like Canadians are willing to absorb a little bit on this and maybe some pain. We’ll see how long that lasts. Ralph Goodale, thank you for talking to us.
Minister Ralph Goodale: Nice to be here.
Eric Sorensen: Up next, we’ll update the cannabis legislation as it wafts through the halls of Parliament.
Eric Sorensen: Welcome back. The government’s pot bill is currently the ping pong ball between the House of Commons and the Senate. The government has accepted several amendments but rejected others. Now it’s back to the Senate with pressure to pass the bill this week before the House rises. When will Canadians be able to light up legally?
Joining us now, Senator Tony Dean. Senator thank you for joining us. The Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said to you and your colleagues this, this past week:
Minister Ginette Petitpas: “We agree with the majority of the proposed amendments that they have brought forward. I know that you want to hear our position on the issue of home growth. Respectfully, when it comes to that amendment, we will not be accepting it. And we look for them receiving our position and look forward to receiving their position.”
Eric Sorensen: So, Senator Dean, the government looks forward to hearing your position. What is your position?
Senator Tony Dean: Well, we’re in the process of developing that position as a group of independent senators. I can tell you that my personal view is that like another of other senators, I was a little bit disappointed with the government’s response this week. Senators and my group, I think, in particular, worked for seven months in a diligent way at five Senate committees, to understand the legislation, to understand its purposes, to understand the impacts and to understand the nature of cannabis use in Canada and all of its harms. Introduced a number of thoughtful amendments, a lot of consideration went into them and I think it’s fair to say that we were expecting a little bit more. And the touchstone in all of this was of course, the home grow or home cultivation amendment, which I think independent senators considered to be somewhat of a compromise. There could have been harder amendments around home cultivation. It was always a little bit of a lightning rod I’ll say as a policy initiative. And I think that we’re in a position that we find ourselves in a position as independent senators certainly. Where we’d like a little bit more information about the reasoning that lies behind the decisions that were made, we’re kind of a bit of an information drive group. And there was lots of information throughout the last several months, perhaps not enough to explain the government’s position at this point towards the end of the road.
Eric Sorensen: And that’s the nub here is the home grown and some provinces: Quebec, Manitoba, they want to be able to be able to ban home grow. The government says no to that. Is it your view that you can kind of reconcile to that? Is there a point at which the Senate has to just say well we can’t get everything we want and we are the body of sober second thought and that’s all we are. And so do you just on them and saying well we might have to accept that? Or do you think that there is something that you’re going to be able to send back again?
Senator Tony Dean: Well, I think the Senate always reaches that point. I’m not sure that we are there right now. I think the senators—again, I’ll say are looking for a little bit more information behind the government’s message. A number of options are available to senators, where we’re in the middle of discussing those. That’s a process that I think we’ll continue that today and tomorrow. And we will see what happens when the message comes back early next week. I can’t predict what that will be. I do know, I mean as much as my personal view is it was one of disappointment. I also recognize that the government is accountable at the end of the day here for making decisions. We can provide advice. Governments make decisions and governments are held accountable for the. So one of the things that I know from working close to governments as a long term public servant, is that when people look at this bill a year or two from now and whether they’re praising it or whether they found the odd problem with it, nobody’s going to look back and say what did the Senate say? The accountability for the bill working or not is going to flow like water or electricity directly to elected officials.
Eric Sorensen: And is everything else, do you think that those are humps that can be overcome, you know, the idea of branding and whether or not producers can get some promotional value out of this and whether that should be stopped?
Senator Tony Dean: Well, I can’t speak for my conservative colleagues. You’ve mentioned a couple of things that they are interested in. We may land on different priorities. I think that this is a common denominator that I sense across the street, it’s the home cultivation issue that seems to be on everybody’s mind.
Eric Sorensen: Why the urgency, do you think, at this moment to get it done right now? Is it because there would be a political cost or is there a societal economic cost to getting this passed now?
Senator Tony Dean: Well, I think the government’s been quite clear and I’m supportive of this thinking that we’ve have a very long-term relationship with cannabis reform in this country and the Le Dain Commission in ’72, the Nolan Commission, a Conservative senator in 2002 concluding that legalization and regulation was probably safer for young Canadians than prohibition. We’ve had 14 months in Parliament with bill. We’ve had tons of notice for provinces to get ready and most of them are. Producers are ready. It strikes me that consumers are ready. It is as good a time as any to launch legalized and highly regulated cannabis in Canada in a very limited way and cautionary way. So as a sponsor of the bill, I’m supportive of this legislation and I’ve been quite public about that. I think that this is the right time. We’ll learn as we go inevitably. We’ll never get it perfectly right. So I am an advocate of moving sooner rather than later.
Eric Sorensen: The government clearly wants to have this in place and people in a position to buy it by later this year. But this week will be a very defining moment, so thank you for joining us.
Senator Tony Dean: You’re welcome. Thank you.
Eric Sorensen: Coming up, from Olympic champion to children’s health advocate, some ‘food for thought’ with former Senator Nancy Greene Raine.
Eric Sorensen: Tucked into the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Ottawa is the Carleton Grill, a favourite dining spot for Nancy Green Raine, the just retired senator and former Olympic skiing gold medalist. She not only enjoys a healthy diet but has worked for two years on legislation to ban advertising unhealthy food to children, a most suitable topic on our segment: Food for Thought.
Former Senator Nancy Green Raine, thank you for joining us on Food for Thought, so apt because of your interest in nutrition. Tell us first of all, a little bit about the meal and this place that you’ve chosen.
Nancy Green Raine: Well, it’s breakfast and I always like to eat breakfast. And this place is my home when I’m in Ottawa. I’ve been staying at the Sheraton for the whole time that I’ve been in the Senate and I really enjoy it. It’s kind of like family here and so I thought why not ask if we could do the interview here? And they always have good food.
Eric Sorensen: And is there something about this meal that speaks to your interest in nutrition?
Nancy Green Raine: Well, I like to have my breakfast plain. I like to have some protein, so we have eggs—poached eggs and I don’t like the hash browns, so I’ve got tomatoes and some fruit and yogurt, so pretty simple. And nice brown toast.
Eric Sorensen: Before we get too much into the nutrition part and as in your role as Senator Nancy Greene Raine, let me ask you about being skier Nancy Greene. For people of my generation, you were a sports hero. Remind us just what you achieved because Canada won one gold and one silver in Grenoble, as we call it. Grenoble, France in 1968 and you won them both.
Nancy Green Raine: And we won a bronze in the hockey.
Eric Sorensen: And the bonze in hockey, that’s right.
Nancy Green Raine: And I really remember that because I was getting my medals and my gold medal in the arena that day and it was between periods in the hockey game. And the hockey team stayed out in the box and were banging their sticks on the ice, so it was quite a thrill.
Eric Sorensen: We all knew you as the sports hero that you were then, and yet I understand you didn’t become sort of familiar to Canadians in some ways until you started doing Mars Bar commercials because I remember those ads on TV. Now, you have kind of a different view on nutrition and when it comes to advertising candy products.
Nancy Green Raine: Yeah, and it’s interesting because I learned through that process. Actually, I had a series of commercials and then stopped for a few years and then came back and did some more. And when they came back to do the second shots, my kids were just going into grade one and I said I don’t think I should do this because candy is not good for kids. And when I saw what was in their products compared to the other ones on the market, I was convinced that it was the best candy. And so I decided to do it again. And there’s room for candy. There’s room for sweets as treats, but not all the time and not to the point where you become addicted to the sugar.
Eric Sorensen: Well tell us about the legislation because this is not unimportant legislation at all when it comes to advertising for kids under the age of 13 and what they should be seeing. Tell us about that.
Nancy Green Raine: Well it’s interesting because the first legislation to curb the marketing or advertising to children was put forward in 1974 and there have been attempts since then. And, you know, we did a study in the Senate on the rising rates of obesity in Canada and one thing that came out loud and clear was the targeted marketing to children was really, really harmful because it creates in them a desire for the product. They then beg their parents for it and sometimes the parents give in.
Eric Sorensen: Sometimes.
Nancy Green Raine: Sometimes. And the advertising is very powerful. I mean, a good example of that is I got criticized by media in Quebec who were really making fun of me because I was going to take Tony the Tiger off the cereal box. And this was a 50-year-old man talking about how important Tony the Tiger was. And it just tells me how powerful that was that even today he has an emotional connection to that cartoon character. So, you know, they know that if they get brand loyalty at an early age, they have a customer for life. And there’s hundreds of millions of dollars being spent targeting children. It’s not right.
Eric Sorensen: And so the legislation will achieve what, do you think?
Nancy Green Raine: Well, I’m hoping that it’ll really cut down on the number of targeted messages going to kids. Parents are still free to purchase the products if they want. That’s up to the parents. But you don’t want them having to deal with that nag factor. And I’m not saying that the government should say you can’t eat this. They’re just saying don’t target—I’m saying don’t target the children with advertising to make them ask their parents for it. That’s not fair to the parents and more than 85 per cent of Canadians support this kind of legislation.
Eric Sorensen: Well, it’s amazing. I mean just even talking to you, the energy that you have here to be already now past the retirement age that’s required for a senator. What are you going to do next?
Nancy Green Raine: Somebody told me that retirement—the definition of retirement is that when you work more hours, but you don’t get paid.
Eric Sorensen: That’s right.
Nancy Green Raine: And I look around our country and we have active seniors, retirees, grandparents out there doing things with their grandkids and staying fit and healthy all their lives. And I really see that in skiing. If you ski and you keep on skiing, when I talk to the 80 plus—you know, people over 80 years old who are still skiing and skiing regularly, I say to them what’s the secret? And they just laugh and say just don’t stop. And then somebody always pipes up and don’t be so damn cheap. Get some new gear, it makes it easier.
Eric Sorensen: I would think it would be don’t fall down because as you get older, we are a little more brittle as we age.
Nancy Green Raine: Not if you ski.
Eric Sorensen: No? Is that right, eh?
Nancy Green Raine: Yeah, because it keeps your bones really healthy.
Eric Sorensen: Ah, that’s good.
Nancy Green Raine: It’s really, really good. You know, in skiing you don’t really feel it, but there’s a lot of forces working. And those forces are very, very good to build strong healthy bones.
Eric Sorensen: And you’ll have a chance to ski some more you think now that the Senate is behind you?
Nancy Green Raine: You know, before I went to the Senate, I skied 130 days a year. In the Senate I’ve been skiing 80-85. But no, I’ll be back up to 130.
Eric Sorensen: Wow.
Nancy Green Raine: My husband skis everyday too. And we live right on the slopes, so at sun peaks, I literally walk out the door, put my skis on and away I go.
Eric Sorensen: Well you’re an inspiration to Canadians and you have been for more than 50 years. Thank you for giving us so much food for thought on this [00:23:10].
Nancy Green Raine: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.
Eric Sorensen: And for more of our interview with former Senator Nancy Greene Raine and with John Manley of the Canadian Business Council, go to our website: http://www.thewestblock.ca.
That’s our show for today. Thanks for joining us. I’m Eric Sorensen, and for all the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day.
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