Here are the three things you should not have missed:
Power & Politics spoke with Foreign Affairs minister John Baird, who said that bringing CIDA into the Foreign Affairs umbrella is a more streamlined approach to the conduct of foreign policy, as humanitarian assistance is part of foreign policy, and it brings all of the experts under one roof. Baird said that the move wasn’t too controversial, and that the department already has two parts and two ministers, the other being international trade, so a third won’t be a big change. In response, Chris Hall spoke with Julia Sanchez, President of the Canadian Council for International Development, and former Foreign Affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy. Sanchez said that they have been calling for a stronger CIDA, but that they are not convinced this is the right time for such a move because there is no clear policy direction in place. Axworthy said there needs to be a more integrated relationship between trade, development and diplomacy, as the world is not divided into silos. On Power Play, Anthony Scoggins, Director of International Programs at Oxfam, said that while he buys into the efficiencies argument, he fears that there will be less of a focus on the reduction of poverty.
To get reaction to the budget, Power Play had an MP panel of Kellie Leitch, Peggy Nash and Scott Brison. Nash said that if you want to reduce the deficit, don’t bring in austerity and don’t ignore infrastructure, and said that the lack of hard numbers in the document means we don’t know what the budget really means. Brison said that it is hard for the government to preach austerity when they protect ideological islands of profligacy, and that there are real issues with youth unemployment and $1 trillion in student debt. Leitch noted that the budget was developed after extensive consultation.
Chris Hall got budget reaction from AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo, who said that the document falls far short of what is required to transform the lives of his people, and the relationship with the government. While he was pleased that were more references to First Nations than ever before, there was not enough money for their infrastructure needs – $7 billion for water infrastructure alone – and the commitment to education needs to be seen with action. When asked about the training programs described as ‘workfare,’ Atleo said that chiefs have been advocating for measures like these, but the policy response was done unilaterally, and the opposition was now telling them how to feel about it. Atleo said that First Nations need to be in the driver’s seat, and that a fair share of resources would reduce amount of pressure being felt in the budget cycle.
- In his last interview as PBO, Kevin Page told Don Martin that he has no regrets and would do it all over again.