Analyzing America’s special day: Politics on TV, Nov. 6 edition

Talking about a nuclear deal with India, cyber-attacks, and oh yeah – the US election.

Message of the day

“We’ll work with whoever wins tonight.”

Questions not answered

  • Were the bulletproof limos the Indians offered not sufficient to protect Harper?

Harper’s trip to India:

Power & Politics spoke to Joe Oliver about the new deal that would see Canadian uranium go to India. After Oliver opined that the Keystone XL pipeline would go ahead soon after the election, he said that the “appropriate arrangements” with India stipulate that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will do inspections. That will ensure that no Canadian uranium will be diverted from civilian use, or gets sold to a third party. Oliver said that he will be joining Harper on his stop in the Philippines.

Oliver was also on Power Play after a report by Roger Smith, who said that Indian officials said they offered four bulletproof limousines for his use, but Harper wouldn’t comment further on the matter. Oliver added that the uranium exports are good for our economy, and that we would stop exports if the IAEA reported on any diversions. Oliver also noted that the liquefied natural gas plants being set up on the West Coast would also be another export market to India, seeing as we can’t rely on the US to buy natural gas as they are now exploiting their own shale gas deposits.

Martin then asked his MP panel of Roger Cuzner, Megan Leslie and James Rajotte for their reactions to the news from the trip. Leslie said that it doesn’t seem to be going well so far with all of the attention on the limo issue because the cost is a real number. Cuzner said that he didn’t want to belittle the security concerns, but feels like there may be some overkill when you look at the metal detectors that kids needed to go through at 24 Sussex on Halloween. Rajotte said that the primary consideration should be safety and that politics shouldn’t be played over it.

The US Presidential election:

Power & Politics spoke with Canadian Ambassador to the US Gary Doer, who said that confusing phone calls were going out in Michigan regarding the ballot proposition on a new cross-border bridge, to which he clarified that a new bridge required a No vote. The bridge has the support of the Canadian prime minister and the Michigan governor, and the support of a number of trade unions, but the owner of the Ambassador bridge has been running millions of dollars in ads to vote against it. Regarding other trade issues at stake, Doer said both candidates support the Keystone XL pipeline, but they are waiting for Nebraska’s approval.

Solomon then spoke to US ambassador to Canada David Jacobson, who admitted that it’s hard to sit on the sidelines after being so involved in the last campaign. Jacobson said that there are two things at stake – who would make for a more peaceful and safe world, and which candidate has the best plan for the American economy, as a strong American economy will benefit Canada. Jacobson said that either administration will work on improving the border because it makes sense to do so.

Jacobson was later on Power Play, where he added that the challenge over the next four years will be the Beyond the Border initiative, and the recovery of the US economy, which will help the Canadian economy. Jacobson said that the situation of the fiscal cliff situation could revolve around the message that the Congress takes from today’s election – if the lesson is that voters are sick of fighting, they may try to resolve it quickly, but if the lesson is to keep fighting, there could be trouble.

Power Play spoke with former Ambassador to the US Colin Robertson, who said that the relationship will revolve around more than energy, and that it will be about the need for a jobs agenda, which will impact Canada because we are their largest export market. That agenda would require improvements at the border, with streamlined regulations and a new Windsor-Detroit bridge. Robertson said that with regards to the “fiscal cliff,” Romney might be able to work more easily with what is predicted to be a Republican House.

Solomon hosted an MP panel of Gerald Keddy, Paul Dewar and Dominic LeBlanc about the critical issues they’re watching for regarding Canada. Keddy said he is looking at the Detroit-Windsor bridge and the Keystone XL pipeline, and that the government’s job is to get along with whoever wins. Dewar said that we know what we’ll get with Obama, but we’re not sure with Romney. Dewar also said that he’ll be watching to see what happens with Congress, but hopes for continuity. LeBlanc said that on top of the issues Keddy mentioned, he’ll also watch for any signals about thickening the border, and he added that Americans understand the importance of the relationship.

On P&P’s Power Panel, Greg Weston noted that either candidate would approve the Keystone XL pipeline, and that differences would likely emerge around other forms of energy. Paul Frazer said that Romney couldn’t make a decision on the pipeline on his own, as there are Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency to contend with, each of whom has regulatory powers of their own. Anne McGrath noted that Obama’s only objection to the pipeline was the old route through Nebraska. Tim Powers said that Romney knows Canada well, as he was part of a forum of Eastern Canadian provinces and New England states when he was the governor of Massachusetts.

Cyber-attacks

Power Play’s journalists panel of Stephanie Levitz and Joel-Denis Bellavance spoke about cyber-attacks on government computer systems. Bellavance said that the government is seeing a big increase in the number of attacks in the past few months, and they’re not sure that the new investments will be enough to combat it. Levitz wondered how ready the government can be, and that it is a constant job to notify public servants not to get complacent and click on suspicious links, as what happened when Treasury Board’s mainframe was compromised.

First Ministers meeting:

Power Play’s MP panel looked at the forthcoming First Ministers meeting in Halifax, where Leslie said that Harper should be at the meeting, and noted that Intergovernmental Affairs minister Peter Penashue had trouble answering questions on his portfolio in the House today. Cuzner said that given the number of decisions that affect the provinces, such as with EI, his avoidance of the premiers doesn’t make sense. Rajotte said that one-on-one meetings make more sense, and that Harper works well with premiers of all stripes.

The “death of Parliament”:

The Power Play MP panel also weighed in on Michael Ignateiff’s comments about the need for more free speech and free votes in the Commons. Cuzner joked that Ignatieff had “gone rogue,” but more seriously pointed to the fact that Penashue was unprepared to even say what he’s been doing when asked in QP, and that it’s egregious that ministers simply deliver benign talking points. Leslie noted the “carbon farce” and that Jack Layton’s vision of doing politics differently needs cooperation. Rajotte said that MPs can do good work in committee, but he does agree with the need for QP reform, and that they should endorse Michael Chong’s suggestions, as well as making debates actual debates.




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