October 7, 2018 11:37 am

The West Block, Season 8, Episode 5

Watch the full broadcast of The West Block from Sunday, October 7, 2018 with Mercedes Stephenson.


Episode 5, Season 8
Sunday, October 7, 2018

Host: Mercedes Stephenson

Guest Interviews: Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould,
United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney, Scott Jones

Location: Ottawa

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The countdown to legal cannabis is on. In just 10 days, smoking up will be legal all across the country. But are we ready? The Justice Minister is here, with the new rules on getting high.

Then, Ottawa and the provinces are facing off in a carbon tax confrontation and frustration over pipeline politics. Jason Kenney joins us on the anger, in Alberta.

And, seven more Russians are indicted for a cyberattack against Canada and its western allies. What is Ottawa doing to protect you? We’ll find out.

It’s Sunday, October 7th and I’m Mercedes Stephenson. This is The West Block.

In just 10 days, cannabis will be legal across the country, but there are still a lot of questions and potential chaos for how this could all unfold, with each province setting its own rules for age limits and sales. But the federal government sets the standard for impaired driving laws and enforcement, as well as product concentration and possession allowance, raising concerns among the provinces and on police forces. Not to mention, for Canadians trying to navigate the new rules.

Joining me now to discuss these issues is Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould. Minister, 10 days from now marijuana will be legal. One of the biggest questions on people’s minds is about driving. How much can they consume and drive? What are the legal rules around that?

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould: Well, in terms of driving, we are taking a precautionary approach. No amount of alcohol or drug consumption, in my view, is a safe amount to drive with. So, if you have consumed alcohol or drugs, it is strongly recommended that you not get behind the wheel of your car.

Mercedes Stephenson: But what’s the law on it, because you can consume alcohol and get behind the wheel, as long as you’re below a certain percentage point. How is that going to work marijuana? Is it zero tolerance or is there an amount that people can have consumed?

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould: Well, I mean, again, I’m going to say that there’s no amount that’s safe to consume in terms of drugs and getting behind the wheels of your car. We have in the legislation, provided law enforcement officers with many tools to be able to detect whether or not somebody is impaired by alcohol or drugs and for safety sake, for the sake of the safety on the roads, we recommend that people not get behind the wheels of their car if they’ve consumed any alcohol or drugs?

Mercedes Stephenson: I’ll try this another way, at what point are you going to be charged with impaired driving?

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould: Well, it depends on a case by case basis. So, police officers have the opportunity to go through a series of different tests to conduct standard field sobriety tests. We are training drug recognition experts to be able to determine whether or not they are of the view or see probable grounds that somebody has been impaired by drugs and we also are to build the probably grounds to take a blood sample to determine whether or not the individual has been impaired by drugs.

Mercedes Stephenson: Are you concerned about the science with that, because I know it’s pretty clear with alcohol. You know at a certain percentage of alcohol in the bloodstream, somebody is impaired. There’s less silence with marijuana because it hasn’t been legal, so you couldn’t really get people high to test it and there’s some concern there could be legal challenges because somebody could have THC showing in their system and not be high or could have a low level showing but expresses as someone who’s very impaired.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould: Well that’s why we have provided law enforcement officers with a myriad of tools. Driving while impaired has been on the books as an offence for over 100 years. In the legislation, we provide law enforcement officers with a test that enables them to determine by taking a sample of saliva to determine whether or not somebody has drugs in their body: THC. It registers a pass or a fail. That’s one tool that we provide law enforcement officers. But in addition to that, law enforcement officers are trained in terms of sobriety testing on the roadside, as well as drug recognition expertise. And all of that are indications that lead to probably grounds that there is a likelihood of drugs in somebody’s system, which would lead to a blood sample. There is always going to be, I suspect, legal challenges around impaired driving but we are—

Mercedes Stephenson: And that’s one of the things I was hoping to talk to you about, because the Draeger which is the device you’ve chosen reportedly doesn’t work very well in cold conditions and it’s pretty cold in much of Canada from maybe October until May. How are you going to deal with that? Are you just going to sort of sit back and wait for this to be challenged in court because I’d imagine that’s going to happen pretty quickly?

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould: Well, I was pleased to certify the Draeger as an additional tool that law enforcement will have. That tool, the Draeger has been and was recommended, by a series of experts that provide recommendations to me: the Drug and Driving Committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Scientist experts.

Mercedes Stephenson: And you’re not concerned about that cold factor?

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould: Well, the Draeger was tested on the roads quite extensively in differential temperatures. I am confident the Draeger provides a tool for law enforcement officers, an additional tool for them to take in terms of being able to determine whether or not somebody has been impaired by drugs.

Mercedes Stephenson: The next topic I’d like to tackle with you is plants being grown at home. You’re allowing the provinces to determine this and some provinces like Quebec are saying they’re not going to allow it. Why set the rules on so many things like the content in product and who can distribute it but not set the rules on something like plants, federally?

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould: Well, there’s a number of—as you know, in the legislation that a number of provisions that are permissive to provinces and territories around age and also around the number of plants that can be grown at home, and provinces have taken it upon themselves to determine what the appropriate number of plants they want to grow. In the legislation, we speak about four. We considered home grow quite extensively. We benefitted from recommendations from our task force that we took and recommendations from across the board in terms of our legislation. So this is coming from us based on extensive review by the task force, extension consultations that we did across the country and provinces.

Mercedes Stephenson: Do you think it’s a little bit “Harperesque”, though, that this is what they used to do. The Conservatives would pass legislation and say we’re going to let someone challenge it in court. That’s kind of what your government is doing on a lot of this file, too. We’ll pass the legislation then we’ll see what the courts decide.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould: No, we believe, and we have been working very cooperatively with the provinces and territories, recognizing that provinces and territories are different. And we have, through the legislation, as I said, provided some permissive provisions that enable provinces reflective of their own individual citizens to make some changes and adapt to the circumstances in the provinces. And the amount of plants or the number of plants that individuals can grow can be changed and determined by provinces. But we are going to continue to work with the provinces to ensure that this is a seamless, in 10 days from now, legalization and a strict regulatory regime.

Mercedes Stephenson: What are you advising Canadians to say at the border when they cross if they’re asked whether or not they’ve consumed marijuana?

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould: Well, as I’ve always said, and I know that my colleague, the Minister of Public Safety has always said that when you are approaching a border and you’re going into the United States or other places, to tell the truth and to answer questions truthfully.

Mercedes Stephenson: And finally, I just want to ask you when it comes to where people can smoke cannabis. There have been some questions about why smoking instead of edibles for starters, because there are more overdoses with edibles and your government thinks that smoking’s unhealthy and also that you can do this out in public which people are complaining about. Why did you choose to deal with only the smoking first?

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould: Well, there’s more extensive work that the Minister of Health and the Minister of Border Security are doing around ensuring the proper regulation around edibles, but in terms of where one can smoke in public, again, we’re working very cooperatively with the provinces and territories. They are working local municipalities to make determinations around that based on what they’re hearing and what their priorities are and what laws and regulations they have in place.

Mercedes Stephenson: We have to stop it there Minister, because we’re out of time. But thank you so much.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould: Okay. Thank you very much.

Mercedes Stephenson: Still to come, the never-ending approval process for the Trans Mountain pipeline project. What will it take to get the pipeline up and running?


Mercedes Stephenson: Welcome back. The carbon tax is one of the Liberal government’s big promises, but this week it ran into more trouble with the provinces. Manitoba is the latest province to pull out, saying the federal government is not respecting the provinces positions. And in Alberta, a big stop: the carbon tax rally between Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Alberta Conservative Leader Jason Kenney. He of course, will be joining me in just a few moments. But first of all, late last week the prime minister weighed in on his government’s plans for a federal carbon tax. Take a listen:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “We have decided as a government, and Canadians asked us to do this in 2015, that we were going to put a price on pollution. Pollution should not be free anywhere across this country. But we were going to be moving forward.”

Mercedes Stephenson: Joining me now from Edmonton is United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney.

Mr. Kenney, why are you holding this rally? Why are you so opposed to the idea of a carbon tax?

United Conservative Party Leader Minister Jason Kenney: The NDP government in Alberta introduced a carbon tax three years ago that two thirds of Albertans consistently opposed because they understand that it’s all economic pain and no environmental gain. That punishing people for heating their homes in a cold winter or filling up their gas tanks to drive to work is not an environmental policy, it’s just an effort by big government politicians to get more control over ordinary people’s lives. And that’s why we’re delighted to see this growing national coalition against the NDP-Liberal carbon tax from Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and we believe New Brunswick after this election is resolved and we believe here in Alberta, next spring.

Mercedes Stephenson: Mr. Kenney, where do you think this is going to go, though, because at the end of the day, there are legal opinions saying the federal government has the right to impose these kind of attacks across the country.

United Conservative Party Leader Minister Jason Kenney: We also have legal opinions indicating that this would be an unconstitutional intrusion to provincial jurisdiction. So my party, the United Conservatives are running on a platform explicitly to repeal the job killing NDP carbon tax and if the federal Liberals then try to impose their tax arrogantly on us without the consent of Albertans, we’ll see them in court. We’ll be joining the legal challenges of the governments of Ontario and Saskatchewan, I believe Manitoba as well.

Listen, provinces have a right to levy taxes for provincial purposes. The federal government’s saying this is effectively a provincial tax. They have no business doing this, but more importantly, the cost of living is already too high. Gas prices are up. People in Alberta are paying effectively 120 per cent carbon tax on natural gas just to heat their homes and Mr. Trudeau’s agenda is ultimately to increase this massively. His own Environment Department admits they want to go to at least $200 dollars a tonne from the current federal $20 dollars a tonne, a ten-fold increase, because they know the proponents of carbon taxes will admit that you cannot achieve Paris climate targets to reducing emissions on a carbon tax until it’s in the range of $200-300 dollars a tonne—

Mercedes Stephenson: But Mr. Kenney, I just want to stop you for a second.

United Conservative Party Leader Minister Jason Kenney: Ten to fifteen times higher than [00:12:38].

Mercedes Stephenson: Because there is actually a report that came out very recently by Canadians for Claim Prosperity, it’s run by one of Stephen Harper’s former policy directors that says if the carbon tax is done right, most households would see a significant rebate. They’d be getting more on a rebate that they’re paying out.

United Conservative Party Leader Minister Jason Kenney: And if you believe that, Mercedes, I’ve got some swamp land in Florida for you. The idea that you could tax people and they’re going to be better off by then sending cheques from the—this is ridiculous. It’s been completely rebutted by Canada’s leading tax policy expert, Jack Mintz. It would cost an additional net $400—it would cost more for every family with an income of over $40 thousand dollars. So it’s just another effort to transfer revenue within Canada. How about instead, we try to get the overall tax burden down, the cost of living down, instead of politicians constantly trying to take more control over how people live their lives?

Mercedes Stephenson: Mr. Kenney, I’d like to switch gears a little bit but to another issue that is certainly a hot button out in Alberta, that’s the Trans Mountain pipeline. The government announced another 22 weeks of consultation that’s court ordered within Indigenous communities. You’re saying you would have rather see them challenge this in court, but a lot of legal experts say it would have taken more than 22 weeks to get this to the Supreme Court. Why take that approach?

United Conservative Party Leader Minister Jason Kenney: To be clear, I’m saying they should do both things at the same time. There’s no reason. They don’t have to do these things consecutively. They can do them at the same time. They could go to the Supreme Court on an appeal and they should do so. On this, Premier Notley and I agree. We need clarity, not just for this, but for future projects. Not just for pipelines, but other major infrastructure projects.

Let’s be honest, Mercedes, the courts keep changing the goal posts on what is the federal government’s duty to consult First Nations. We need clarity on that for the future. And I believe there’s a very good chance the Supreme Court would overturn this, the decision of the federal court against Trans Mountain was made on very narrow technical grounds. They basically said the Feds fulfilled their consultation duty on three of four phases. But on one of those phases, they didn’t talk enough. They only listened. I mean is that really the grounds on which we’re going to jeopardize a project that could represent tens of billions of dollars of value for the Canadian economy? And by the way, Mercedes, what about the vast majority of First Nations along the pipeline route who support it, who have been partners in Trans Mountain for six decades. It’s been there for six decades. Why don’t they get a voice share? Why is all of the legal power only in the hands of a small minority of typically foreign funded First Nations in this case that aren’t even on the pipeline route.

Mercedes Stephenson: Although there are First Nations on the pipeline route who oppose it, too. But we don’t have much time left, so I want to ask you, do you think at this point the Trans Mountain is ever going to be built?

United Conservative Party Leader Minister Jason Kenney: I don’t know, but I certainly hope so. We desperately need it. This country’s got the third largest oil reserves in the world. We need to get it to global markets and if we don’t, we’re abandoning global energy markets to the world’s worst regimes like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, Iran and Qatar, and Putin’s Russia. The world needs more Canadian energy and we need it to pay for our future debts in health care and public services.

Mercedes Stephenson: Do you also need to do something, Mr. Kenney, though, to address climate change?

United Conservative Party Leader Minister Jason Kenney: But of course, but a pipeline doesn’t create emissions. This is a complete misnomer. The world has a growing global demand for oil and gas, according to the International Energy Agency through at least the year 2045. The question is whether Canada will be part of supplying that demand or whether we will allow it to be supplied by the OPEC dictatorships. I don’t think that’s good for the environment. They have lower environmental standards.

Mercedes Stephenson: Then I guess whether or not Alberta and the future might do something about carbon or climate change. That’s all the time we have, unfortunately, so I have to wrap it up. But thank you for joining us.

United Conservative Party Leader Minister Jason Kenney: Thanks Mercedes.

Mercedes Stephenson: Up next, with the increase in cyberattacks around the world, is Canada’s new Cyber Security Centre ready to protect us from cyber-crime?


Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale: “With the advancement of technology and the acceleration of illicit or illegal behaviour, including by state actors like Russia, and we are absolutely determined to take every step we possibly can to keep the government system safe and to keep Canadians overall, safe.”

Mercedes Stephenson: That was Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale responding to the threat of online attacks. Late last week, seven Russians were indicted for cyberattacks against Canada and its western allies. And this comes just after Canada launched its new Centre for Cyber Security to help protect the government and all of us from cyberattacks.

Joining me now is the head of that new cyber centre, Scott Jones. Scott, thank you so much for joining us. An issue that’s increasingly on people’s minds as our lives get more convenient but also more tied to the cyber world, what do you think the single biggest threat is right now to the Canadian government from the cyber world?

Scott Jones: Well for us, the biggest threat is that it’s evolving so quickly and how can we respond to a very rapidly evolving environment, where the threats can come at us from all different angles? And so we don’t concentrate on one single actor, we have to concentrate on them all. So how can we really multiply our defensive efforts to protect the Government of Canada but also, how can we extend that out to protect all of Canadians? And that’s the role of the Cyber Centre.

Mercedes Stephenson: Does that mean people are trying to get access to what, too our election systems maybe to manipulate them, to secret government data, the Department of National Defence? What are they targeting?

Scott Jones: So they’re really targeting everything. They’re cyber criminals that are going after the private data that the government holds and protects. There are states who are absolutely looking for espionage to steal government information and sometimes they are just hacktivists who are just looking to have fun, see what they can do, get into the government and show that it’s possible. And so we have to protect against all of it and that’s really the biggest challenge here is that you don’t concentrate on one threat.

Mercedes Stephenson: How hard is that?

Scott Jones: It’s always a challenge but it’s an interesting one and it’s one that our staff has found ways to keep up with.

Mercedes Stephenson: I’m sure, fascinating ways, which we won’t get to hear the details of, but I’m curious to know in particular with Russia and China because we hear a lot about them and their offensive capability and the troll farms. How big of a threat are those two countries in terms of their cyber activities to Canada?

Scott Jones: Well we’ve certainly seen in this last week with Russia a wide scale allied effort to really deal with some Russian activity that’s crossed over some thresholds for us in terms of, you know, interfering in things like sport and the World Anti-doping Agency, etc. And so pushing back and saying okay, this is too much and doing some things that can hopefully limit what Russia’s ability is to use cyber tools. But in general, we need to look at all of the state actors. Cyber tools aren’t just within the range of one or two. It’s within the range of 100 countries. It is a very cheap way to come and do some of the things like mass manipulation of information and so we want to make sure that we’re guarding against all of it.

Mercedes Stephenson: Are you confident that our election will be safe from this in 2019 or is it going to be a big target?

Scott Jones: Well, it will be a target. We issued a report last summer called The Cyber Threats to Canada’s Democratic Processes, where we outlined what we think are the threats. The election itself is very secure. Elections Canada, we’ve been working with them since—well actually before the previous election to make sure that we’re ready and that they’re ready to run a very secure election. But social media, the rise of kind of troll farms, the ability to manipulate to really target the divisions in the country, that’s something that we have to talk about and so we’ve been highlighting that, the use of social media, the media itself and political parties themselves making sure that they’re all protected as well.

Mercedes Stephenson: How at risk is the average Canadian because, you know, I can, for example, control the thermostat in my home from my phone. A lot of people have the Alexa device that they talk to and it searches for things or plays music, but all of things, I’d imagine, are a bit of a back door.

Scott Jones: Well I think the average Canadian, I think, that I would be most worried about is cyber-crime. Cyber criminals are really interested in any sort of private information that they can get, whether it’s to steal your identity, steal your credit card information and commit financial fraud or dupe you into doing something and so every one of those devices gives them a window in. And so that’s something that, I think, as much as we value features, we should start talking about security and do I really want to give my private information? Do I really want to bring something that’s listening to me every second of the day into the house? That’s a personal decision.

Mercedes Stephenson: Maybe the Russians are listening to you when you’re asking Alexa to Google search.

Scott Jones: You might—it’s possible if it’s got some vulnerabilities. But certainly it’s something that you need to think through and make a choice as a consumer.

Mercedes Stephenson: What are some of the programs and information you’re going to offer to Canadians to help them protect themselves and the Canadian government?

Scott Jones: Well, for Canadians, as part of the Cyber Centre, we’re taking over the Get Cyber Safe campaign. It’s Cyber Security Awareness month, so we want to give some tips that every Canadian can use, both when they’re using their technology, but when they’re buying it as well. So those are some of the themes that we will be covering. For critical infrastructure, we’re looking to build partnerships. So how can we start to work together to building security from the start and layer on an approach security that can actually start to reduce some of those cyber risks? And then for the government itself, we are the defender. So we run the defences for the Government of Canada and we want to share those experiences and lessons learned as well and hopefully raise the overall bar or cyber security in Canada.

Mercedes Stephenson: I think when a lot of people think about cyber security, it’s certainly something they become more aware of but it seems like there’s more opportunity. How at risk are we in ways that we might now think about on a daily basis that there’s access or vulnerability if a system goes down?

Scott Jones: Well, I think some of the challenge is we all assume it won’t happen to us. This is something that happens to somebody else, especially as individuals, so just doing simple things as backing up your information, making sure that you save all of those things. That means you’re no longer vulnerable to ransom ware. You can restore and that’s something that cyber criminals are going to try to use to get money from you. Making sure when you’re giving your information, why do they need that? Would this really be my bank who’s asking for this type of thing? Being a questioning consumer, don’t just assume. And if it doesn’t feel right, take another vector, call the bank, for example, just some simple things that we can all do that, you know, ask some questions. There are a lot of good people out there with some really interesting tools. Cyber can be a great economic multiplier, but there’s some bad people out there that want to do it, too, so ask them questions and just take some simple steps, I think, will help.

Mercedes Stephenson: Okay. Don’t click on the link—

Scott Jones: Exactly.

Mercedes Stephenson: Is rule number one. Scott, thank you so much for joining us.

Scott Jones: Thanks very much.

Mercedes Stephenson: That’s it for our show today. Thanks for joining us. We hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving and we’ll see you right back here, next week.

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