Politics on TV: Sept. 20 edition

Today on the small screen: the Nexen takeover, sponsored travel and the benefits of part-time work


Messages of the day: “People who work are better off”

Questions not answered

• Will the government intervene in the CNOOC takeover of Nexen?
• Will the government produce new guidelines to deal with a takeover by a state-owned enterprise?

The Nexen takeover:

On Power & Politics, Evan Solomon heard first from Greg Weston about the shareholder approval of the takeover deal and some of what CNOOC is offering. This was followed up with an MP panel, where Peter Julian said the government was not proceeding in a responsible manner because it allows a foreign state-owned company to be in charge of a significant portion of a Canadian resource. Mike Lake insisted the minister is looking at the deal on its own merits. Geoff Regan said there are still no details on the takeover, no clarity on the “net benefit” test and there has been no input on the process. Julian added that the NDP will be releasing their position in a few days.

Bob Schulz from Haskayne School of Business was on Power Play to dissect the shareholder approval. Schultz noted that institutions, rather than individuals, mostly hold these shares and most of Nexen’s assets and cash flow come from their North Sea operations rather than the oil sands, though they do have equity in other companies. Schultz said that the takeover is an opportunity for constructive engagement and if Nexen’s corporate social responsibility can influence CNOOC, that’s a positive.

Travel junkets:

Solomon grilled three MPs over the issue of sponsored travel, particularly a Goldcorp trip to Guatemala. Massimo Pacetti, who went on the trip, explained it was a good opportunity to see the other side of the story after meeting with NGOs and that it fit into his schedule after the Liberal trade critic was unavailable. He added that he wasn’t naïve about the purpose of the trip. Charlie Angus, who turned down the trip, felt the mining operation was too controversial and they wouldn’t be in a position to see the issues in conflict because it was a one-sided trip. Andrew Saxton said these kinds of trips happen on a regular basis, that it allows Parliamentarians to go to other parts of the world to learn and that there are strict rules to be followed.

Northern Gateway pipeline:

Don Martin spoke to WWF Fresh Water Ambassador and former Olympic hockey captain Scott Niedermayer, who is against the Northern Gateway pipeline. Niedermayer believes the Great Bear rainforest is threatened by the pipeline and that no amount of safeguards could make it acceptable because mistakes happen. As well, he said they couldn’t pick a worse place for oil tankers to enter their waters. Niedermayer isn’t too worried about being called a radical by the likes of Joe Oliver.

Opposition Day motion:

Don Martin spoke to Michelle Rempel, Elizabeth May, Robert Chisholm on the subject of today’s opposition day motion, which insists Harper meet with the premiers. Rempel noted that Harper constantly meets with premiers and has met or spoken with them over 250 times since they took office. Elizabeth May said it was fair to hold Harper to account for his economic record, such as how he blew through the surplus by ramping up spending and cutting the GST. Robert Chisholm took umbrage with the characterization that Mulcair refused to meet with Premier Redford, noting that she was out of the province during Mulcair’s visit. Chisholm said that Harper should be sitting down with the other partners in the federation because he doesn’t have all the answers. Chisholm also gave his impression of how he believes Harper only calls the premiers to dictate to them.

Diane Finley:

Solomon interviewed Human Resources Minister Diane Finley on a range of topics. Finely noted the changes to EI rules to allow sick benefits for those on parental leave. When asked about the issue of temporary foreign workers, Finley said the rules that allow them to be paid 15 percent less only applies if there are already Canadians in that job at the going regional rate and that it used to be the case that temporary foreign workers were paid more than Canadians. On the topic of EI clawbacks that has been coming up during QP, Finley repeated her lines that the vast majority of people who work part-time on claims are better off and that they encourage people to take part-time work because it leads to full-time work, but she did hint that they are looking further at those clawbacks.

Health care:

Martin spoke to Globe & Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson about his new book Chronic Condition, which takes a look at the state of Canadian health care. Simpson wonders if the system is too iconic to be reformed, but too expensive to maintain and feels that politicians are too afraid to debate. Simpson noted we are conditioned to believe we’re doing so well because we’re always being compared to the US, even though we get mediocre results. His one recommendation: that the federal government become a single national buyer for pharmaceuticals.

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Politics on TV: Sept. 20 edition

  1. ‘His one recommendation: that the federal government become a single national buyer for pharmaceuticals.’

    Hah! Now that the premiers are already doing that, it doesn’t take much brilliance to ‘figure it out’

  2. Off topic: “The Adobe Flash plugin has crashed…”

    Please, for the love of god, stop using Flash…

  3. I like this new section and hope the hosts/producers of the shows will pay attention. There is NO point in having either panels of MPs or strategists who do nothing but deliver talking points. Just a waste of time, TV space, etc. If the producers refuse to have them on because of their refusal to actually talk turkey, trust me: they will either change or lose the airtime. And they do not want to lose the airtime.

  4. Jeffery Simpson is partially right suggesting “the federal government become a single national buyer for pharmaceuticals”. He would be completely right if he could offer any proof that we could trust this current government with something like that.

    Canada has some of the highest priced generic drugs in the world. It is a 100% home grown problem. There is a billionairie boys club in Canada that has been extremely successful in manipulating the market through kickbacks, rebates, house brand generic substitution, and (of course) political lobbying. Canada has a molly-coddled generic drug industry that does more R&D work with lawyers and patent litigation than it does with doctors and drugs.

    The Competition Bureau (CB) has identified this problem but it has never taken legal action like they do in the US. The CB imposes big fines on our telecoms for overpriced text messages but the generic drug industry gets a pass.

    So the provinces must pass laws against this kind of market rigging. The problem is that the laws are usually accompanied by some ham fisted rule that regulates the cost of a generic to some percentage (i.e. 25%) of a brand name. This is open to market rigging as well. Some off-patent medicines can be sold profitably at 5% of the former brand name price; others can’t. What happens then? How about shortages across Canada for selected drugs.

    This excellent article from 2 years ago offers a sobering perspectives on how this industry works. The article has not grown old…


    I wrote the following blog after being quoted prices for 2 off-patent drugs that I need. The local pharmacy in Calgary gave me prices that were 7 & 11 times the price for the same prescription here in the Netherlands. Even if I didn’t have the private health insurance we carry here, I could get a 90 day supply of my preferred brand of generic for the same price as the Blue Cross monthly deductible in Alberta.