Message of the day
“This draft document was rejected by the government.”
Questions not answered
- Will we find out what conditions CNOOC agreed to?
Power & Politics first spoke with CBC’s Laurie Graham about the draft document she received in her mailbox that provided a blunt self-assessment of the government and its position, and which said that a 21st century foreign policy must lead with the economy. Evan Solomon then brought in an MP panel of Deepak Obhrai, Paul Dewar and Dominic LeBlanc to discuss the document, but Obhrai immediately said that it was created by department officials and rejected by the government. Obhrai said that the government is pursuing a foreign policy based on three pillars – trade, peace and security, and the promotion of democratic values. Dewar said the problem is that the government isn’t engaged and that we’re being shut out in international forums like an East Asian trade summit because they haven’t figured out that diplomacy and trade go together. LeBlanc said that this document was clearly of some importance because it wouldn’t have made it that far without a number of preparatory meetings. While he gave the government good marks for their work on protecting LGBT rights and religious freedoms abroad, he likened it to a shambolic, flavour-of-the-week approach.
When P&P’s Power Panel looked at the issue, Tim Powers said back in 2006, the government was talking about bringing trade and treaties to the forefront, and that Canada can’t be everywhere and do everything. Amanda Alvaro said this document contained no real secrets, and pointed to Paul Wells’ blog post from last night, while Martin Patriquin said that Harper is now embracing what Chrétien said on China.
During Power Play’s journalists panel, Stephanie Levitz said this document coalesces the thinking in the party for the past few years, where they had lots of irons in the fire with no overarching white paper, but that it’s not a really different position from before.
With leaked reports saying that CNOOC has accepted employment conditions being set by the government as part of the Nexen takeover bid, Power & Politics summoned an MP panel of Mike Lake, Peter Julian, and Geoff Regan to discuss it. Lake said that he wasn’t going to speculate, and reverted to talking points about “net benefit.” Julian said there has been no transparency, no rules around net benefit, and he suspects that Harper would rubberstamp the agreement once the Calgary by-election has passed. Regan said that the government’s handling of the file has been a mess and is frustrating for investors because they can’t tell what’s going on, and that the process needs to be improved.
Power Play’s MP panel of James Rajotte, Megan Leslie and Rodger Cuzner gave their thoughts, where Rajotte noted that the minister asked for a further extension to have further discussions. Cuzner said that the Liberals have a long history of interest in trade with China, and pointed to this morning’s Paul Wells blog post on Trudeau’s position and the history therein. Leslie considered the decision to be taking place within a black box with no transparency.
When P&P’s Power Panel weighed in, Robin MacLachlan said it wasn’t too gutsy of Trudeau to continue of Liberal tradition of rubberstamping foreign takeovers, and said that the Liberals didn’t enforce job protection requirements. Alvaro said that the government has been secretive and has demonstrated poor communication on this issue. Powers said that the government can’t really talk in great detail about commercially confidential ventures, while Patriquin said that Trudeau’s position is simply trolling for western votes.
During Power Play’s journalists panel, Levitz said that it was a smart move for Trudeau to come out onside with the deal, and noted that Harper got up in QP outside of the leaders’ round in order to flex his muscles against Trudeau. Joel-Denis Bellavance said that Trudeau’s position links into the Calgary Centre by-election, that it puts some policy difference between him and his father so that he can be seen as more business-friendly, and that it also to get ahead of Martha Hall Findlay, who said she’ll come out with policies every two weeks.
Power Play checked in with CTV’s Janis Mackey Frayer about the Gaza situation, where she said that the truce seems to be shaping up, that it’s a question of when, but the thorniest issue is the blockade around Gaza. Don Martin then spoke with the University of Ottawa’s Middle East expert Constanza Musu, who said that Israel had some military objectives going into this, and that it is less interested in ground operations if it has achieved its objectives. Musu says there is a question of what is victory for either side, and that there is a tension between security concerns for the Israelis – which means ending the rocket attacks – versus legitimacy for Hamas.
Power & Politics spoke to Israeli spokesperson Shahar Azani, who said that despite the attempts at getting a ceasefire, Hamas keeps firing, and that two Israeli civilians were killed today. Azani expressed frustration that if the international community had engaged with the issue beforehand, it may not have escalated. On the topic of proportionality, Azani said that Israel is not targeting civilians, just strategic points, while Hamas is firing rockets indiscriminately from populated areas.
Solomon later spoke with Egyptian ambassador Wael Kamal Aboul Magd, who said that the short-term focus remains an immediate ceasefire, with a long-term solution of peace. Magd said that Egypt has been consistently brokering peace with Israelis and Palestinians, and he rejected the characterisation that the Muslim Brotherhood is linked to Hamas. Magd said that Egypt is trying to go beyond narrative and counter-narrative in order to get back to a credible and viable peace process, which needs both timeframes and terms of reference.
- Stephen Maher said that Conservative Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton has filed a factum that says that nobody can prove that anyone failed to vote because of misleading phone calls, as part of the Federal Court case challenging the results in six ridings.
- Rob Nicholson touted the coming into force of crime bill provisions that eliminate house arrest for serious crime, which he says undermines confidence in justice system. (During QP, Maclean’s John Geddes reminded us that house arrest only applies to sentences of less than two years, not these serious cases).
- Dr. Anna Reid, president of the Canadian Medical Association, said that she was before the Finance Committee to talk about the need for health impact assessments, which asks governments to assess the potential health impacts, benefits and risks of any policy decisions upfront rather than downstream.
- Rodger Cuzner said that there was sound justification for Kevin Page to get a Diamond Jubilee medal, as Page has done commendable work in representing the interests of the people of Canada.
- James Rajotte said that the NDP’s 72 amendments to the omnibus budget bill is more reasonable than the Liberals’ 3000 amendments, but encouraged people to review the 3000 to see how repetitive they are.
- Patricia Mohr, VP Economics and commodity market specialist with Scotiabank, said that commodities make up a big part of our economy, while China has 44 per cent of global consumption of the big four base metals. Mohr noted the growth indicators, including a pickup in China’s industrial activity, now that the inventory correction that happened over the summer is coming to an end.
- Evan Solomon followed up on last night’s exchange with Shelly Glover, and said that Glover admitted to not reporting “voter suppression” calls against her voters to Elections Canada.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012