Message of the day
“Every veteran had a different war.”
Questions not answered
- Will Veterans Affairs minister Stephen Blaney finally meet with Tom Hoppe?
Veterans and Remembrance Day:
Power & Politics interviewed former Chief of Defence Staff Walt Natynczyk about how he observes Remembrance Day. During Sunday’s ceremony he will be on the flanks rather than at the centre. Natynczyk said every veteran owns a difference experience of war, but all need support from peers and families. He also said the Canadian Forces held a symposium on mental health shortly before he stepped down. He noted that while the Forces have hired more psychiatrists and psychologists, there is still a ways to go.
Hannah Thibedeau interviewed decorated veteran Tom Hoppe, who will not be wearing his medals this weekend as his protest against the government’s treatment of veterans. He move is in solidarity with veterans who have launched a class-action suit against the government to get the benefits, and with those who have suffered privacy breaches. Hoppe says the money that will be spent on fighting the lawsuit should go toward veterans’ benefits, and in particular to returning to the sections of the Pension Act that ensured veterans’ benefits were for life and not just until age 65, and that were for all veterans rather than just those who were injured.
Hoppe was also on Power Play with Michael Blais from Canadian Veterans Advocacy. Hoppe added that he’s sure that the minister cares, but isn’t sure he’s being properly advised. Blais said younger soldiers have expectations that they will be treated with the same level of respect as WWII veterans, which is why the changes under the New Veterans Charter are unacceptable.
Thibedeau then spoke with Veteran Affairs minister Stephen Blaney, who said that people are observing Remembrance Day more these days because more of them have some connection to someone who went to serve in Afghanistan. Blaney said on Saturday he will unveil a new cenotaph at CFB Trenton with the families of soldiers who lost their lives overseas, and that this monument came entirely from private funds. When asked about Hoppe’s protest, Blaney said he welcomed his comments, and that the government was striving to improve the quality of services and programs that they were providing to veterans.
P&P’s Power Panel weighed in. Greg Weston used the word “shameful” to describe the behaviour of the government, and that it was a national embarrassment for poor veterans to turn to welfare for burials. Kady O’Malley said she was curious about the comments around the New Veterans Charter, which had been sold as a change in the relationship, but now sounds more like a piece of paper with buzz-words on it. She also said that the government seems to be placing a priority on symbols over human beings. Kelly Cryderman noted that veterans were supposed to be the natural allies of the Conservatives, but that is not bearing up when one looks at substance. She also said that veterans’ issues are harder to ignore because of Afghanistan.
The “fiscal cliff”:
Power Play interviewed presidential scholar Stephen Farnsworth, who said that the election increased the chances that the president can get his way because he doesn’t have to worry about another term, but that the Republican members of congress who opposed tax hikes also got re-elected. Farnsworth doesn’t see a lot of willingness on either side to move from their current positions, and that Republican Speaker Boehner’s idea of tinkering with the tax code to close loopholes won’t produce the kind of money needed to put a dent in the deficit.
Robert Fife then turned to a panel consisting of Carleton university professor Ian Lee, former TD Bank Chief Economist Don Drummond, and CTV’s Craig Oliver to look at the issue. Oliver noted that it was not just the “fiscal cliff” but the looming debt ceiling that were in play, and a failure to deal with this could man market collapse and world-wide recession. Lee said that these apocalyptic consequences were why a deal was likely. Lee also said that there was a trillion dollars to be found in closing these tax code loopholes, and that he sees less intransigence than the outlining the boundaries of a deal. Drummond said there are three models of contingency plan for Canada, but none are very appealing, and added that Canada’s model of selling to developed economies is not working for us right now.
Fife spoke with NDP MP Brian Masse about the fact that the Senate looks set to defeat the NDP sports betting bill that passed the House of Commons unanimously. Masse explained that the bill deals with one clause in the Criminal Code that will allow for single-source betting for one game. Masse said that the worries by major sports leagues of criminality and games being thrown is paternalistic, and that with billions of dollars going toward this activity already, the government should tap into this revenue stream, which would also impact on the bottom line of organized crime.
P&P’s Power Panel looked at this issue, where Weston noted that the law was first put on the books because it was harder for high rollers and organized crime to rig the minimum three games that can be bet on rather than just one. O’Malley said that the bill made it through the Commons with very little scrutiny and because it sounded good, nobody really thought about it. She added that this may be one reason why the Senate is digging in, but suspects they might not have if it had been a Conservative private member’s bill. Cryderman said the Senate may also be flexing its muscles over this bill because it’s something they won’t lose much credibility over.
Harper’s stop in the Philippines:
Power Play had an update from CTV’s Roger Smith on Harper’s trip to the Philippines, which he said is a bit of a courtesy stop of convenience, and that Indonesia was the first choice, but fell through. Harper was also riding in a local limo, and not a Canadian one. Smith said Harper will be talking trade, investment, and human trafficking, and that Canada will be pressing for clearer rules for mining companies investing in the Philippines.
Power Play’s journalist panel of Stephen Maher and Craig Oliver then gave their thoughts on the tour so far. Maher said it was hard to blame journalists for asking questions about the limos, but it remains the RCMP’s job to keep the PM safe. Oliver noted that India is next to Pakistan, and the Taliban connections to the Mumbai attack in 2008, where the Indians bungled their response, shaking any confidence in how they can conduct security.
Thibedeau spoke with the CBC’s Margo McDiarmid about Enbridge’s proposal to reverse its pipeline between Sarnia, Ontario, and Montreal in order, as part of a broader plan to bring more western crude and bitumen to the East for refining, and that there is some protest to the plan, even though that pipeline has a better-than-average safety record.
Power Play’s strategists panel of Gerry Nicholls, Anne McGrath, and Marlene Floyd looked at how any moves by President Obama to implement a cap-and-trade system would impact Canada. Nicholls said that Harper doesn’t have to worry because Obama will be too busy fixing the economy, and won’t want to implement anything that will increase the price at the pumps. McGrath said that one can’t divorce environment from the economy, so climate change will have to be tackled. Floyd said that Obama will have a “made in America” solution that he can sell to Congress, and that the Canadian government will have to be pulled kicking and screaming when US starts to take action.
Power Play’s journalists panel also looked at the F-35 file. Oliver noted that the Assistant Deputy Minister who had been pushing them was now gone, as is Natynczyk, which opens the door for more options to be presented. As well, word that the inability to cost the F-35s in a new process further opens that door. Maher said that the government has carefully been moving away from the F-35s.
Power Play’s strategists panel also weighed in on Justin Trudeau’s ability to bring over some heavy-hitting organizers to his campaign. Nicholls wondered if they were gravitating to Trudeau personally, or because they think he’ll win and they want to get in on the inside. McGrath said that good political staff can be really important for good leaders, but it doesn’t always help.
P&P’s Power Panel spoke about the Alberta Progressive Conservative convention this weekend, where there is a motion to strip federal Conservatives from having an automatic voting delegation at future conventions, which is indicative of the split between PCs and the Wildrose among the federal Conservatives. Cryderman noted that the wording of the motion does mention the April election where that split was visible, and that Redford has said that because she’s a provincial conservative, it doesn’t mean she gets automatic voice at federal party. Cryderman also noted that this split is playing out in the Calgary Centre by-election. Weston said that the split makes this move common sense, and that MPs who voted against the PCs shouldn’t have the right to help them make rules and elect leaders. O’Malley noted that there had been a lot of speculation as to whether or not ministers would be limited as to what they could say during that provincial election, and that no limits were set.
Thibedeau spoke with former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo about the Syrian situation. Moreno-Ocampo said that he would like to see an effort to integrate the efforts of the UN Security Council and the ICC so that a warrant for Assad’s arrest could be produced, which an organization like NATO could undertake to enforce without resorting to invasion or putting troops on the ground. This, however, is a new concept, and there are no plans to do this at the time being. Moreno-Ocampo said that there would be a good case against Assad at the ICC because he is the commander-in-chief of the Syrian army.