What did that leader say? Here’s where to find out. Read our full transcript of #macdebate, separated by the four topics—the economy, the environment, democracy and foreign policy.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
SEGMENT ONE: ECONOMY PT. 1
SEGMENT ONE: ECONOMY PT. 2
SEGMENT TWO: ENVIRONMENT PT. 1
SEGMENT TWO: ENVIRONMENT PT. 2
SEGMENT THREE: DEMOCRACY PT. 1
SEGMENT THREE: DEMOCRACY PT. 2
SEGMENT FOUR: FOREIGN POLICY PT. 1
SEGMENT FOUR: FOREIGN POLICY PT. 2
SEGMENT ONE: ECONOMY PT. 1
Paul Wells: The longest election campaign in modern Canadian history has begun. Good evening. I’m Paul Wells, the Political Editor of Maclean’s Magazine, and I am as surprised by all of this as you are. We’ve got the leaders of four national political parties together in one room. We don’t know whether that will happen again before you vote. I don’t think they know. But while they’re here, let’s make them work.
The leaders are: Justin Trudeau, the Leader of the Liberal Party; Elizabeth May, the Leader of the Green Party; Tom Mulcair, the Leader of the New Democratic Party; and Stephen Harper, the Leader of the Conservative Party.
Tonight’s debate will cover four broad subjects at the top of voters’ minds: the economy; energy and the environment; the state of Canada’s democracy; and foreign policy and security.
Each segment will begin with questions from me to one of the leaders. Then another leader will respond to the first, followed by an extended discussion among all the leaders. We’ll go through that process twice for each of our four subjects.
We drew lots to determine the random speaking order. Everybody here knows that order, but nobody in any of the parties has seen or heard the questions I’ll be asking tonight. The parties have agreed that at any point I can intervene to direct the conversation.
So let’s begin with our first topic, the economy.
Video: Narrator: If there’s one topic on every voter’s mind as this election approaches, it’s the economy.
Male Speaker: We have dangerous economic winds blowing in Canada.
Narrator: The country’s economic health is shaken. We’re probably coming out of a mild recession. Oil prices have slumped. Exports are weak. How high should taxes be? What’s Ottawa’s proper role in the economy? Is Canada’s wealth fairly distributed? That’s the context for our discussion of economic choices.
Paul Wells: And as the luck of the draw would have it, the first question goes to the Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. Mr. Trudeau.
Justin Trudeau: Evening, Paul.
Paul Wells: Canadians are feeling anxious about the economy. It shrank in May for the fifth month in a row. Manufacturing is hurting. The price of oil is down. Your economic plan is built around a middle class tax break. Is that really enough of a response, given the challenge that you say Canada faces right now?
Justin Trudeau: One of the things we’ve seen, Paul, is that for 10 years the approach that Mr. Harper has taken has simply not worked for Canadians. He has consistently chosen to give opportunities and tax breaks and benefits to the wealthiest Canadians in the hopes that that would create growth, but that’s not happening, and that actually goes to the heart of the question that’s being posed in this election campaign: Is Stephen Harper’s plan working for you?
He took a decade of surpluses and turned it into eight consecutive deficits. We’re the only country in the G-7 that’s in recession right now. He has no plan to get out of it. And we just found that wages are falling as well. He may not feel that from 24 Sussex, but I know that you feel that at home.
That’s why the Liberal Party has put forward a plan to invest in the middle class, to support the middle class, to create growth through strengthening the middle class and we’re the only party up on this stage tonight that is committed to lowering taxes for the middle class by asking the wealthiest to pay more tax. There’s a lot more elements to our plan and I’ll be glad to talk about them tonight, but we know that when you put money in the pockets of middle class Canadians, the economy grows.
Paul Wells: A lot of people are saying – a lot of economists have said that median incomes have actually been on the rise since about 1990. Do you have a solution to a problem that isn’t really there?
Justin Trudeau: Not at all. I think if you spend any time crossing the country, as I have, talking to people who are worried about saving for their own retirement, who are worried about having to make choices between their own opportunities and actually paying for their kids’ education, people are worried that perhaps for the first time we have a generation of young people who aren’t going to do better than the previous generation did. We need solutions for that, and it’s not to continue to give benefits to the wealthiest, it’s to actually bring a fresh approach, a new plan and a great team to actually change the course because the only risk right now would be sticking with what has been a failed plan for 10 years.
Paul Wells: Thank you, Mr. Trudeau. Again, as the luck of the draw has it, the first to respond is Stephen Harper.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, Paul, let me just correct a few facts. The context is this. Over the past 10 years, in a period of unprecedented economic instability, we have seen since the great global financial crisis Canada has the strongest economic growth, the strongest job creation record and the strongest income growth for the middle class among any of the major developed economies.
What we face right now, let’s be clear on what the Bank of Canada said, over 80 percent of our economy is growing. In fact, our exports, non-energy exports are up 10 percent this year. Where we have weakness is obviously in the energy sector because of the fall in energy prices. But our view is, you know, we’re going to have growth this year, we’re going to have growth going forward. The way you deal with this is by sticking with a plan that is working, a low-tax, prudent plan that is working rather than go to a plan of high taxes and high debt and high deficits, which is failing – which is failing everywhere else.
Paul Wells: The vocabulary that you use to describe your opponents’ plans is sometimes fairly grave. You’ve compared Canada under the Liberals or the NDP to Greece. You have called the tax increases that Rachel Notley has introduced in Alberta a disaster. Will a few changes in tax rates at the margin actually have that kind of catastrophic effect?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, actually, I think, Paul, we need to be clear on what is being proposed. The other parties are proposing, literally, tens of billions of dollars of additional spending, permanent spending to be financed by permanently higher tax rates and permanent deficits.
Justin Trudeau: That’s not true, Mr. Harper.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: And the fact is, Paul, we know where that leads you. Look around the world. Countries that are in that position have not recovered from the recession and are stagnating. This country has had the best performance of major developed economies, and we have some of the best prospects going forward, and that’s why we should stay on course.
Paul Wells: Thank you, Mr. Harper. We’re going to open it up to all the leaders now. Tom Mulcair, how do you – what do you think about these questions?
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Well, I know that Canadians work hard to make ends meet and to take care of their families. That’s how I was raised. On Mr. Harper’s watch, we’ve lost 400,000 well-paid manufacturing jobs. There are 200,000 more unemployed today than when the crisis hit in 2008. Honestly, Mr. Harper’s plan simply isn’t working. We know that. Incomes are flat-lining, household debt is skyrocketing.
We have a plan to invest in the middle class and to create new jobs. We want to invest in infrastructure. We want to give a break to small and medium-sized corporations. Mr. Harper and Mr. Trudeau agree that tens of billions to the wealthiest corporations is the way to go. We sincerely disagree, and we want to create one million $15.00-a-day quality child care spaces. That’s not just good for families. That’s good for the economy as well.
Elizabeth May: You know, I was in the 2008 leaders debates and of course, Mr. Harper, Mr. Prime Minister, we were the two who were there, and I recall very clearly that Mr. Harper was still talking about if there’s going to be a recession, we’d be in one already. I don’t really think that he’s got a good track record on spotting when this country is in a recession.
We’re in a recession now. We have a weak and shrinking economy, and it’s the wrong time for austerity measures. We need to build up Canada’s economy through investment and right now there’s no investment going on. There hasn’t been investment for the last two or three years, not from the private sector that’s sitting on $630 billion of what Mark Carney called “the dead money.” We need to make sure that this economy doesn’t sputter to a halt. And that – if we stay with Mr. Harper’s risky plans, that’s where we’re headed.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, let’s be clear – let’s be clear what the record is. We have 1.3 million net new jobs created since the global financial crisis — the best record by far in the G-7. That’s why incomes are rising across the board in this country and have been rising. That’s why we have manufacturing and other sectors outside of energy that are now expanding because – because we are able, because we have a balanced budget and are able to make investments in things like infrastructure, in health care, in benefits for families. Now is not the time to throw us back into deficit and to start to spend tens of billions of dollars we don’t have, paid for by tax hikes. That is the wrong policy.
Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper, the reality is Canadians across this country know that times are tough, and the fact is you have completely become disconnected from the reality that people are facing right across the country. Your plan isn’t working, and we know that. And the risk would be sticking with your plan.
Now Mr. Mulcair is good in his criticisms and his questions, but is not necessarily good at answering the own questions to him because what we’ve seen is that he’s put forward plans for a $15.00 minimum wage. He’s talking about it across the country and what is actually the case is he’s misleading Canadians. He’s given Canadians who work in big box stores and behind checkout counters and in shops and coffee shops false hope because his minimum wage plan actually will only help less than one percent of every Canadian who earns minimum wage. And that kind of false advertising is simply irresponsible.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Under our plan to introduce a $15.00 an hour federal minimum wage, over 100,000 Canadians will get a raise. Under Mr. Trudeau’s plan, not a single Canadian will get a raise.
Justin Trudeau: Actually, under Mr. Trudeau’s plan, 315,000 kids will be lifted out of poverty.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Mr. Harper has seen 400,000 well-paid manufacturing jobs lost during his mandate, and the jobs that are being created are mostly part-time precarious jobs. And it’s not just the NDP that says that. One of Canada’s leading banks, the CIBC, says that the quality of jobs being created today is at the worst level in a full generation. That’s Mr. Harper’s record.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Let me give you the fact. Let me give you the facts, Mr. Mulcair, from Statistics Canada. Ninety percent of the 1.3 million net new jobs created are full-time. Eighty percent of them are the private sector. Two-thirds of them are in high wage industries. That’s why incomes have been growing in this country when they have not been growing in other countries.
And I’ll tell you what won’t grow our economy, the kinds of plans these guys are presenting where they want to increase CPP taxes — a hit of a thousand dollars for every worker making $60,000 a year and another thousand dollars on the employer if he wants to keep them on the payroll. These are not the ways you handle economic turbulence of oil low prices.
Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper, to talk about seniors and pensions —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: You move forward on low – with low taxes and stable policies.
Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper, you have chosen to raise the age of retirement from 65 to 67, which is taking tens of thousands of dollars out of the pockets of our most vulnerable seniors. You’ve categorically refused to actually engage with the kind of pension security that Ontario and other provinces are asking for. Canadians know that you’ve let them down because you’ve chosen to continue to give benefits and tax breaks to the wealthiest Canadians.
Canadians need help from their government. That’s why our plan is focussed on strengthening the middle class with a more generous child benefit that’ll lift 315,000 kids out of poverty and stop sending government cheques to millionaires, which is what you want to do, and actually, Mr. Mulcair agrees with you on that one.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Now let me be clear what we’ve actually done for seniors. Retirement age will not go up for over 10 – for 10 years, which is 2023.
Justin Trudeau: Oh, so it’s for our grandchildren to worry about that one?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: OAS is increasing. We have brought in the largest increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement for poor income seniors in 25 years. We brought in income-splitting for our pensioners — I know something the other parties oppose, but they appreciate it. We’ve made the rules for RRIFs more generous.
Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper – Mr. Harper, that is simply not true. Mr. Harper – Paul —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: We have —
Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper has been putting that out —
Paul Wells: We’re not halfway done this segment on the economy —
Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper has been putting that out in misleading attack ads and none of the other parties have talked about touching — including Mr. Mulcair on this one — touching income-splitting for seniors.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Mr. Trudeau, you voted against income-splitting for pensioners.
Justin Trudeau: You are fearmongering on that, Mr. Harper, and that’s irresponsible.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: You have spoken against income-splitting philosophically. You have promised to take it away from families who have a less generous income-splitting arrangement for pensioners. There is no reason pensioners should believe —
Paul Wells: Elizabeth May and then Tom Mulcair on this round.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — your change of – your change of story on this one.
Elizabeth May: With all due respect, Mr. Prime Minister, you are cherry-picking your data. Net new jobs as an indicator of the health of our economy isn’t relevant when comparing it to other G-7 nations unless you correct for population growth. And comparing us to Germany, for instance, where they don’t have new people joining the labour market constantly, compared to other economies in the G-7, we are doing very poorly indeed. We’re in a recession under your watch for the second time.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Ms. May, I think the fact that we are able to bring in immigrants and see immigrants join our economy, that is part of our Economic Action Plan — investments in infrastructure, in innovation and in immigration to help drive – to drive our economy. That’s why we have better results.
Paul Wells: Tom Mulcair —
Elizabeth May: We had a net loss in July.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: (Crosstalk, inaudible) in G-7 countries.
Paul Wells: — (crosstalk, inaudible) close out this segment.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Thank you, Paul. What Mr. Harper fails to mention is that he’s run up eight deficits in a row. He’s added $150 billion to Canada’s debt in the last 10 years, and frankly, last week, as we headed into this campaign, in just one day he spent over a billion dollars. Honestly, Mr. Harper, we really can’t afford another four years of you.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: We have – we have a budget that is balanced now when other countries don’t.
Paul Wells: And that wraps up very – very punctual of you all, I appreciate that. That wraps up the first round of questions on the economy, but we’re only half done on this subject alone.
Back to top
SEGMENT ONE: THE ECONOMY, PT. 2
The next question goes to Elizabeth May from the Green Party. Ms. May, the Green Party’s policies call for a transformation of the Canadian economy from resource exports to high value-added business, but that’s a long-term project and Canada is facing trouble right now. What can the federal government do now this year to reanimate the economy?
Elizabeth May: Excellent question. I think we have to also bear in mind and keep in context that the oil sands are about two percent of our GDP. We’ve got a lot of economic activity. The Prime Minister is right, we’re seeing other sectors begin to rebound and able to export. Our dollar shouldn’t keep declining — I think this is a source of worry — but we can’t just sit back and think that the current stagnant economy is going to fix itself. We need investment. We need investment from the public sector. We need to invest in a climate action plan. Frankly, we need an army of carpenters, electricians and contractors going out to plug leaky buildings. That’s 30 percent of carbon pollution comes from the energy we waste and the money we waste heating the outdoors in the winter and cooling it in the summer.
And we also need to invest in municipal infrastructure. That infrastructure deficit is $123 billion. We need to get at it as our bridges and roads are crumbling.
Paul Wells: Can you recruit your army of carpenters and without jeopardizing budget balance? How important is budget balance in the scheme of things?
Elizabeth May: In the scheme of things, not very. In a $2 trillion economy – and I would differ, with all due respect to the Prime Minister, we are not going to see a balanced budget this year. The Parliamentary Budget Office just put out its new figures, but I wouldn’t condemn them, and in my pre-budget advice to Finance Minister Joe Oliver, I said, really, this fixation on balancing the budget is being driven by the political imperative that the Conservatives created by saying in the last election we’ll give you all these goodies once we balance the budget.
This year, they monkeyed with the budget. They put it out on April 21st, not because they needed to know where oil was going but because they wanted to book the sale of the General Motors shares in the next fiscal year. So we sold 73 million shares in General Motors. Was that a good policy choice? I don’t know, but fiddling with the books, so that that showed in this year’s budget to help fake a balance and then the price of oil keeps dropping. We’re not going to see a balanced budget.
But I don’t condemn them for that. It’s far more serious that $150.00 – $150 billion of federal debt has been accumulated under this Prime Minister.
Paul Wells: Thank you, Ms. May. And once again, by the luck of the draw, the first leader to respond to Ms. May is Tom Mulcair.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Well, Paul, I have a concrete plan to kick-start the economy and help the middle class. We’re going to invest in infrastructure. We ask our municipalities and local governments to assume 60 percent of the cost for infrastructure with only eight percent of the tax base. That’s not going to work.
We’re going to reduce small business taxes because they’re responsible for creating 80 percent of the new jobs. We’ll put our effort there instead of what Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Harper have done, giving tens of billions of tax cuts that they both agree on for our largest corporations.
We’re going to champion manufacturing and innovation, including green energy technologies, which will represent a $5 trillion investment over the next 15 years around the world. We’re not part of it because Mr. Harper doesn’t believe in a positive role for government in that.
And we will help the middle class, because it is good for families and it’s good for the economy, with one million $15.00-a-day quality child care spaces across Canada.
Justin Trudeau: Now the challenge that we’re facing right now in our economy is actually about creating growth. And one of the things that is so concerning with Mr. Mulcair’s corporate tax hike is that it’s a time in a recession where we need more growth. We need more investment. We need to create more jobs. So his plan to hike corporate taxes is simply pandering to the people who like to hate corporations, but we need that growth. We need that job creation.
But you’re right, the money has to come from somewhere if we’re going to invest in strengthening the middle class. And that’s why I can’t quite understand why Mr. Mulcair has ruled out doing what we’re doing, which is asking the wealthiest one percent in this country to pay more tax, so we can give a big tax break to the middle class.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Well, the real question is after those tens of billions of tax cuts for the richest corporations, where are the jobs if that’s such a good plan? On the question of personal income tax increases, we are firmly opposed to them. Look at a province like New Brunswick. They will have a tax rate of 58.75 percent. Now New Brunswick doesn’t have a medical faculty. How is New Brunswick going to be able to attract and retain top level medical doctors when they’re going to be told, “Oh, by the way, our tax rate is now going to be close to 60 percent?” We think that Canadians are paying their fair share. Canada’s largest corporations are not paying their fair share. And yes, the NDP will bring up their taxes slightly.
Elizabeth May: And absolutely right, Mr. Mulcair, because when Jim Flaherty, the late and lamented, but when he cut those corporate taxes, he said these corporations were, in his words, “the job creators.” Well, they’ve sat on that money. That’s why Mark Carney called it “the dead money.” $630 billion in cash, an astonishing 32 percent of Canada’s GDP, is sitting stagnant, not being used. It’s absolutely appropriate to raise the corporate tax rate to about where it was in 2009. We’d still be very competitive within OECD countries. And we should do it as quickly as possible, so we have money to invest in getting the economy moving again.
Paul Wells: Stephen Harper, why not?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Let’s be very clear, Paul, on the tax record, first of all. Yes, we have created the lowest tax environment for business investment across the G-7. That’s one of the reasons we have the strongest employment growth in the G-7. We cut taxes, not just for big business, but we cut taxes many times for small business, and the NDP voted against that every single time. The reality is not only did these tax cuts help create jobs, but our tax revenues actually went up from the business sector.
We’ve done the same thing for people. We have cut taxes across the board with the vast bulk of those tax breaks for middle and low income Canadians.
What the other guys want to do is they want to impose both on workers and on employers big hikes to payroll taxes — CPP taxes, EI taxes. Those things would kill jobs, and they would hurt ordinary people.
Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper is once again eschewing the responsibilities that he has for the fact that he’s had eight successive deficits. We’re right now the only G-7 country in a recession, and wages are shrinking. He continues to try and tell people that we need to stay – stay the course, but people at home know that, know that we are not working, that this economy is not working for them.
We need a fresh approach. We need an approach that understands that the way to create growth in the Canadian economy is to strengthen the middle class, to make sure that people have jobs and confidence and a capacity to spend and be – be sure about the future that they’re building.
Mr. Harper has continued to give tax breaks to the wealthiest, and that’s not actually stimulated or helped our economy in anything. And that’s why Canada is growing less and less fair, and that’s what we need to focus on because Canadians right across the country are looking for a change. They’re looking for a better approach and a better plan for the economy, and that’s exactly what the Liberal Party is putting forward.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, let’s be clear. We have not only a balanced budget, we have the lowest debt levels in the G-7 by a country mile, by far. We have by far the best fiscal situation going forward. All analysts can see that.
Justin Trudeau: That’s because of the (crosstalk, inaudible) of surpluses.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: We’re creating jobs and —
Justin Trudeau: (Crosstalk, inaudible) deficits.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: And middle class incomes, unlike in almost every other country, they are rising and they are rising in significant part because of the tax breaks we’ve given to middle and low income Canadians that the opposition parties have consistently voted against and that they want to reverse.
Elizabeth May: But in terms —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Here’s a fact, Paul, that Canadians know, that back in 2008 Mr. Harper was misleading. He said that we were not in a recession. In fact, it turned out we were in the worst recession since the 1920s. He’s trying to hide the fact that we are in a deficit again. Every outside analyst agrees with that. The Parliamentary Budget Officer is categorical about that. It is eight deficits in a row. It is $150 billion that he’s added to the debt. And Mr. Harper’s job creation record is the worst since the Second World War.
Elizabeth May: If I can just get to something —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Mr. Mulcair, just again clarification on the facts. The reality is that the figures out of the Department of Finance show that so far this year we are substantially in surplus, and in fact, well ahead of our budget —
Elizabeth May: But there’s —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — projections, and those are the real numbers. And our debt levels are way below other developed countries.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Mr. Harper, you’re trying to deny the fact that for the past five months those same statistics from the Canadian government have shown that for five months in a row the Canadian economy has shrunk. We are one month away from a technical definition of recession, but according to a lot of observers, we’re already in a recession.
Elizabeth May: If I could just —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Mr. Mulcair, I’m not denying that. What I am saying is that that contraction —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: You’re not denying that we’re in a recession. That’s good.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — is exclusively —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: At least you’re denying —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — almost exclusively in the energy sector. The rest of the economy is growing. It’s projected to grow this year —
Elizabeth May: Well, that was my —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — and into future years. And the way to handle a fall in oil prices is not tens of billions of dollars of increased taxes, increased borrowing and increased spending. That’s how countries get themselves into serious long-term trouble.
Paul Wells: Elizabeth May has been trying to make a point.
Elizabeth May: Mr. Prime Minister, you made a promise in the Speech from the Throne in 2007 that you would tackle the barriers to trade and labour mobility within this country as an economic union, and it’s squarely your responsibility. You said you would go to the trade and commerce clause of the Constitution if needed to be. And now here we are as a country, we have more barriers to trade within Canada than the 28 nation states of the European Union. Why over this period of time – where is your plan to break down the trade barriers within Canada that (crosstalk, inaudible) our economy?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, the fact of the matter – the fact of the matter, Ms. May —
Justin Trudeau: The problem Mr. Harper has on that one – the problem Mr. Harper has on that one is he simply refused to sit down and talk with the premiers over the past 10 years. It’s just not showing leadership. We have a federation that needs people to sit down, talk about taxes, talk about barriers, talk about climate change, talk about how we’re going to help Canadians get ahead in an uncertain economy, and he has simply refused to engage with provincial leaders whether it’s on interprovincial trade barriers, whether it’s on climate change, whether it’s on training and job creation, and that’s, quite frankly, not the kind of leadership that a broad and diverse country like Canada actually needs from a Prime Minister. If Mr. Harper would meet with the premiers more often, that would be wonderful.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: (Crosstalk, inaudible) Ms. May and Mr. Trudeau on trade. We have – the premiers and the federal government are working together on breaking down trade barriers. We have the New West Partnership. We made significant progress in that area, but more importantly, under our government, we have increased the number of countries with which we’ve concluded trade deals from five to 44 — with the entire European Union, much of the hemisphere and now a foothold in Asia. No government has opened up trade opportunities for Canadian companies and Canadian workers like this government. That’s a record we should be very proud of.
Elizabeth May: But the Canada-Korea deal, which —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Well, you know, Stephen Harper is the only Prime Minister in Canadian history who, when asked about the recession during his mandate, gets to say, “Which one?” He’s just admitted that we’ve had five months of negative growth in a row, and yes, a lot of experts say we already are in a recession. Mr. Harper, we want to spend our time concentrating on creating jobs for Canadians. What we’re seeing here tonight is that you’re going to do everything you can to hang on to your job. I’m going to do everything I can to create jobs for average working class Canadians.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: And I’m going to stop you from hiking taxes on those average workers.
Elizabeth May: And with all due respect, your foothold in Asia was to sell us down the river on national sovereignty. You’ve bound this country without a single set of hearings in Parliament to a trade – not a trade deal, an investment treaty with China that binds us until the year 2045, and we can’t get out of it. We need to insist on transparency because Beijing’s going to be looking over the shoulder of the next Prime Minister and telling us what laws we’re allowed to pass.
Paul Wells: With great regret, we’re going to have to leave the segment of the debate on the economy, although I’m sure economic questions will come up in the rest of the night too. This concludes our first round on the economy. We’ll continue after this break. Please stay with us.
Back to top
SEGMENT TWO: THE ENVIRONMENT, PART ONE
Paul Wells: Welcome back to the Maclean’s National Leaders Debate. Our second segment will be on energy and the environment.
Video: Narrator: Two years ago, Conservative cabinet minister Joe Oliver called oil exports an urgent matter of Canada’s national interest. But since then, the two biggest pipeline projects, Keystone XL and Northern Gateway, are stalled.
Unidentified Female: We’re glad that this pipeline is on delay.
Narrator: It’s almost four years since Canada withdrew from the Kyoto Accord.
Unidentified Male: The Kyoto Protocol is not where the solution lies.
Narrator: And now Environment Canada says we won’t meet our targets for carbon emissions for 2020. What’s the proper tradeoff in wealth-generating energy exports and the environment? Can Canada afford to clean up its act? Can it afford not to?
Paul Wells: My first question on this topic goes to Stephen Harper. Mr. Harper, you’ve been Prime Minister for a decade, and you want to be a different kind of Prime Minister on energy exports. You want Canada to be an energy superpower, but major export projects to the United States and China have stalled on your watch. What have you achieved in energy exports that beats the record of your predecessors? What do you have to show on this file for a decade’s effort?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, in fact, our energy exports have increased, not just our — until recently, obviously — not just our oil and gas exports to the United States, but we’ve also seen increasing uranium exports and coal exports and others to Asia. But I would say this, Paul: the federal government does not build pipelines. We obviously favour seeing a diversification of our exports, but we – we establish an environmental assessment process. Companies have to go through that, and they are going through that process.
In terms of the Keystone pipeline, as you know, that’s a – that’s a situation under control of the United States. I’ve had many conversations with President Obama. He’s not asking Canada to say anything. He’s saying he will simply make a decision that’s in the Americans’ best interests. But as you know, there’s overwhelming public support on both sides, so I’m very optimistic in the long run about the future of that project.
Paul Wells: Do you think we simply have to wait for a new President to get Keystone passed? And what if that President is a Democrat?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, that may be poss– that may be the case. But the reality is that there is overwhelming public support in the United States, including in Congress on both sides of the aisle. So I – I (sic) actually very confident, looking at the field, that whoever is the next President I think will appro– will approve that project very soon in their mandate.
Paul Wells: Have you found this to be frustrating? Joe Oliver, as we said in the intro, called the Northern Gateway project an urgent matter in Canada’s national interest. And three years after he said it, it – it remains unfulfilled.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, but look. The project went through a rigorous environmental assessment with a time limitation, as we established. The assessment recommended some 200 conditions on the project. We approved the project subject to those conditions. It’s now up to the – up to the proponent to fulfil those conditions. And that is how the system works in this country.
Paul Wells: Finally, if there had been a price on carbon, a nationally set price on carbon, four years ago, would Obama have – have approved Keystone XL by now?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Absolutely not. The President has never said that to me. On the contrary, the President’s said that he will – he’s told me what factors will influence his decision. It will be his own evaluation of the United States’ best interests. Let’s remember, the United States has not even agreed yet to – to have greenhouse gas emission regulations on their own oil and gas sector.
Paul Wells: Thank you, Mr. Harper. The first to respond to you on this is Elizabeth May.
Elizabeth May: Well, with all due respect, Mr. Prime Minister, your record on climate is a legacy of – litany of broken promises, including one that’s directly relevant to the questions that Paul Wells was asking you about exports. You committed in 2008 not to export unprocessed oil, bitumen, to countries that have weaker emissions standards than Canada. That would obviously include China, the destination point for Enbridge and Kinder Morgan, which only the Green Party on this stage opposes. It makes no sense to export unprocessed oil to countries with poor environmental records.
You also committed to bring in a North America-wide cap-and-trade program working with partners. That was way back in another Speech from the Throne in 2008. Under John Baird as Environment Minister, you committed to oil and gas regs which we would see by 2010. And you also personally went to Copenhagen. It wasn’t a previous promise from Jean Chretien; you were in Copenhagen and committed to what was, I hate to say, a very weak target. But we are not going to come anywhere near it by 2020. And there’s just no credibility at this point. Canada needs to take action. We’re having a summer of extreme drought, raging wildfires, and really severe weather through our – all of our seasons. Canadians want action. Canada needs to take action so that we can defend ourselves from the changing global climate and from the impacts economically here at home.
Justin Trudeau: What Mr. Harper has consistently misunderstood about what happens in the 21st century is you cannot make a choice between what’s good for the environment and what’s good for the economy. Mr. Harper continues to say oh, we can’t do anything on the environment because we’ll hurt the economy. And not only has he not helped our environment, but he’s actually slowed our economy. He cannot get our exports to market because there is no public trust anymore. People don’t trust this government to actually look out for our long-term interest. We – he hasn’t convinced communities of the rightness of his – his pipelines, of the proposals he supports. He hasn’t been working with First Nations on the kinds of partnerships that are needed if we’re going to continue to develop our natural resources.
Canada will always have an element of natural resources in our economy, but the job of the Prime Minister is to get those resources to market. And in the 21st century that means being smart and responsible about the environment. Mr. Harper’s inability to understand that is exactly why he’s so struggled to actually get our economy growing in a right way anymore.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, Mr. – Mr. Trudeau, let’s be clear on what the record actually is. Not only do we take both the economy and the environment seriously; we are the first government in history to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also growing our economy.
Elizabeth May: That’s not true.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: And how have we done that? We do that through a sector-by-sector regulatory approach where we – where we regulate absolute reductions in emissions, and we do so in ways that we know will not kill jobs and will not burden taxpayers.
Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: The alternative presented —
Justin Trudeau: Nobody believes you.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — by all of these other parties is a carbon tax.
Paul Wells: Mr. Mulcair hasn’t had a (crosstalk, inaudible) yet.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Ordinary workers and consumers —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Mr. Harper thought that by gutting our environmental laws, somehow he could get our energy resources to market better. How’s that working out, Mr. Harper? None of those projects has gotten off the drawing board, and it’s not hard to understand why. Canadians across the country want a clear, thorough, credible environmental assessment process. Canada can be a leader around the world. We can play a positive role. But with Mr. Harper, we’ve got the worst of all worlds.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, Mr. Mulcair —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Dirtier air and water, we’ve got more carbon pollution, and we’re a laggard on the world stage.
Elizabeth May: And it’s absolutely the only way that you can – with all due respect, Mr. Prime Minister, the only way you can take credit for the emissions drop, which only occurred in 2008 and ’09, is the global financial crisis. That’s the only thing that brought down our emissions. They would have gone up much more than they have now if not for the action of Ontario in shutting down coal-fired power plants, and British Columbia in bringing in a carbon tax. The cold, cruel reality is that, under your watch, greenhouse gases have been rising, carbon pollution has been rising. As soon as our economy began to recover in 2009, straight up line. Straight up.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, greenhouse gas emission have actually gone down, and the economy has actually grown. Those are the facts. Mr. Mulcair says the projects – various energy projects are going nowhere. No, they are all in an environmental process that is going forward. We make sure that we look at that process and make decisions. The problem is that the other parties have taken positions, depending on who they’re speaking to in Mr. Trudeau’s case, against every single one of these projects. By the way, not just oil projects but in British Columbia —
Justin Trudeau: That’s not true, Mr. Harper.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — against natural gas projects. They have opposed the government’s tax incentives to the na– to liquefied natural gas that is supported not only by the Province of British Columbia and industry, by Aboriginal communities and a broad cross-section of the British Columbia population.
Justin Trudeau: We have done nothing of the sort.
Elizabeth May: But Mr. Prime Minister, in all —
Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper – Mr. Harper is continuing to invent attacks, and quite frankly, Canadians are tired of that kind of leadership. You haven’t been able to get it done on the environment, Mr. Harper. You haven’t been able to get it done on the economy. You haven’t built the kind of balance that Canadians expect. If we’re going to build strong communities, if we’re going to create jobs for our children and grandchildren while protecting our air, our water, our land, we have to actually show leadership —
Elizabeth May: But – but —
Justin Trudeau: — and you have stepped back from any sort of —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Mr. Trudeau, under the government —
Justin Trudeau: — confidence building for government, for Canadians.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — emissions are down three percent.
Elizabeth May: No. No.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Under the Liberal government they were up —
Elizabeth May: No.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — 30 percent. That’s the difference.
Elizabeth May: Mr. – but Mr. Prime —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Our resources —
Paul Wells: I’ve got a couple of quick questions. Mr. Harper, will Canada meet the targets that you went to Copenhagen to set for 2020?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: As you know, what happens with the targets, I – I believe we will, but we now are focussing on a 2030 target. That’s what every country is doing. We’ve set a target in concert with our international partners, 30 percent over 20 – of 2005 levels by 2030. Look, we’re going to have to obviously do more regulation. We’re committed to doing that. We’ve announced some sectors. But there will also have to be technological transformation call. That’s why we’re investing over a billion dollars a year in energy tri– in energy technology projects, and —
Paul Wells: I covered the —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — and that’s what has to happen.
Paul Wells: I covered the 2008 campaign. Your Minister at the time was promising regulations for the oil and gas sectors. When – when are they coming?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, I’ve been very clear that this is an integrated North American sector, and we need integrated North American regulations. I’ve made that proposal to our partners, both the United States and Mexico. They haven’t yet accepted that, but we are ready to go, and we’re continuing to try and engage (crosstalk, inaudible).
Justin Trudeau: When Mr. Obama – when Obama first came to Ottawa, he actually was all about announcing a North American energy partnership. He was going to work with Canada. And that was eight years ago, and nothing has happened since. When Obama just announced recently landmark legislation moving forward on climate change action, Canada is nowhere to be found. That’s why the Liberal Party is proposing that we work again on a continental model, work with the United States and Mexico to address both energy and the environment —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well —
Justin Trudeau: — in a comprehensive way.
Paul Wells: Mr. Trudeau — and the question could also go to some of your colleagues — there’s a bit of a paradox here because it sometimes sounds like you say if we put the right price on carbon, if we have the right social license, we could have pipelines going hither and yon. And yet what I hear from U.S. environmental groups is no, thanks, we don’t want those pipelines, doesn’t matter which government is propounding them.
Elizabeth May: And Canadians —
Paul Wells: — them.
Elizabeth May: — and British Columbians —
Justin Trudeau: The reason environmental groups in Canada and across the United States are so concerned about Canadian oil is because Mr. Harper has turned the oil sands into the scapegoat around the world for climate change. He is – has put a big target on our oil sands, which are going to be an important part of our economy for a number of years to come, although we do have to get beyond them. And his lack of leadership on the environment is hurting Canadian jobs and Canadian relations with other countries.
Paul Wells: Tom Mulcair.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Getting our resources to market is critical. But Mr. Harper’s gotten the balance wrong. He’s gutted our environmental legislation, and he knows that that’s hurting jobs in our resource sector, it’s hurting our economy, and frankly, it’s hurting Canada’s international reputation. Building on my experience as an Environment Minister, when I brought in overarching sustainable development legislation, I would enforce that type of legislation: make polluters pay for the pollution they create. And these projects would get looked at with a thorough and credible environmental assessment process.
Mr. Harper and Mr. Trudeau both agree with Keystone XL, which represents the export of 40,000 jobs. I want to create those 40,000 jobs here in Canada.
Elizabeth May: So Mr. Mulcair, will you stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Mr. Mulcair says – Mr. Mulcair says he supports energy exports.
Elizabeth May: Are you opposing the Kinder Morgan pipeline as well?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Then he goes abroad, he and his party, to argue against Canadian energy exports. You know, a moment ago they talked about landmark decisions by the Obama administration in the United States. They’re pushing ahead with coal – with national regulations of coal-fired electricity. We did that in Canada three years ago across several provinces —
Justin Trudeau: No. Mr. Mulcair – Mr. Harper, you did not do that.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: We did that in concert with the provinces —
Justin Trudeau: It was the Ontario government that worked very hard to do that —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — in Ontario, in Alberta, in Saskatchewan —
Justin Trudeau: — and you were blocking them —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — in Nova Scotia —
Justin Trudeau: — at every turn.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — and that’s why – the reason we have the cleanest —
Unidentified Male: That might be —
Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper, nobody believes you on the environment.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — electricity sector in the world (crosstalk, inaudible) coal-fired electricity before anyone.
Back to top
SEGMENT TWO: THE ENVIRONMENT PT. 2
Paul Wells: Now might be a good time to take – now might be a good time to take a brief pause because we’re – it’s time for the second round of questions on the same subject. So save your thoughts and you’ll get a chance to express them. But this question goes to Tom Mulcair. Mr. Mulcair, let’s talk about pipelines because it seems like that’s what we’re doing tonight. You’ve said you oppose Northern Gateway, Keystone XL, and, in its current formulation, Energy East. Should Canadians just assume that major energy export projects will be on hold for the duration of a Mulcair government’s term in office?
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: I believe that a clean environment and a strong economy do go hand in hand. What we especially said in the case of Northern Gateway — and I got a chance to visit the Douglas Channel — was there was no safe way to bring those large super tankers into that narrow channel. That just doesn’t make any sense. What I have said in the case of Keystone XL — you just heard me repeat it — part of sustainable development is creating those value-added jobs in your own country. You don’t export them to another country.
By the way, that 40,000 job figure is Mr. Harper’s own figure. Mr. Flaherty and him were boasting in the States that it would create 40,000 jobs there. I want to create those 40,000 jobs here in Canada.
With regard to Energy East, it could be a win-win-win: better price for the producers, more royalties for the producing province. It could also help create those jobs in Canada. And of course it could help with Canada’s own energy security. But here’s the rub. Mr. Harper has gotten the balance all wrong. He has scrapped a series of important environmental laws, starting with the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Species at Risk has been affected; fisheries. Instead of dealing with First Nations on a respectful, nation-to-nation basis, he spends a hundred million dollars a year fighting them in court. We’ll take a different approach. We’ll work with First Nations. It’ll be a new era in relations with First Nations because they are the resource rulers in a lot of these cases. Mr. Harper’s belligerent, butting – butting heads approach is not working, and that’s why not one of those projects has gotten off the table.
Paul Wells: In a – in an interview with our colleagues at l’Actualité, you also said that, for Energy East to make sense, you’ve got to internalize the price of carbon in the price of the project. That sounds like a carbon price. Would that be felt by consumers at the gas tank?
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Internalizing the cost, as I just said before with regard to sustainable development, making the polluter pay, that’s a normal rule of sustainable development; otherwise, you’re making everybody in society bear it. User pay, polluter pay – basic rules of sustainable development. I brought in overarching legislation in Quebec. It went so far as to change the Charter of Rights to include the right to a clean environment.
Paul Wells: Thank you, Mr. Mulcair. The first leader to respond to you will be Justin Trudeau.
Justin Trudeau: Mr. Mulcair has been somewhat inconsistent on pipelines. In English he’ll say that he supports the Energy East pipeline; in French he said that it’s out of the question. And that kind of inconstancy, quite frankly, isn’t the kind of leadership we need for Canada. You can’t say one thing in English and its opposite in French. The fact is we need to restore public trust in our ability as a government to create a level playing field upon which proponents of a project can acquire social license, can gain the public trust from the communities it’ll touch, by working in concert with First Nations, Metis Nation, and Inuit peoples to make sure the right partnerships are in place, and also to make sure that the scientific oversight and rules and guidelines are actually protecting Canadians.
This is about not just doing right by our environment; it’s also about doing right by future generations. I have three kids, and I know I want my kids to grow up in a country as fresh and pure and clean as Canada was when – as we remember it to be and as it used to be. And for that to be – take hold, we have to have a government that’s actually demonstrating leadership, that understands that you cannot make a choice between what’s good for the environment and what’s good for the economy. In the 21st century, they go together. Investing in clean tech, in jobs, investing in the kids of pollution reduction and emissions reductions that we need is what this country hasn’t done well enough under Stephen Harper.
Paul Wells: Mr. Harper.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, Mr. Trudeau, you do exactly what you accuse Mr. Mulcair of doing. You go to one part of the country, Atlantic Canada, you’re for Energy East; you go to Quebec, and you’re against it.
Justin Trudeau: Actually, Mr. Harper, your – your friends in New Brunswick —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: And the fact – the fact – the fact of the matter is —
Justin Trudeau: — attacked me mercilessly for —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — all of these – all of these – all of these parties have opposed all of these projects before we’ve even had environmental assessments. That’s not the responsible way you do things. The government has environmental assessments. You do – take your – you take the evaluation based on that and you move forward. And that’s – you know, that’s taking the jobs and the economy seriously along with the environment. The way you don’t deal with this problem is start imposing carbon taxes that will inevitably – they raise money for the government. They don’t reduce emissions. They hit consumers, and they hit consumers hard.
Elizabeth May: Can I —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: The price of gas goes up, home heating, groceries, you name it. That is not the way to deal with emissions.
Elizabeth May: Can —
Paul Wells: Mr. Harper, Alberta and British Columbia and Quebec have a price on carbon right now. Is there a problem with that?
Justin Trudeau: Eighty-six percent of the Canadian economy.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, look, I would – I – I say this. First of all, different provinces have different approaches. Some of them I prefer more than others. I think what’s important – Alberta have – previous government had a very limited carbon price that was about a tech fund within the industry, funding a tech fund. It was not about raising for – revenue for the government, it was not about taking money out of the pockets of consumers. The tax – the carbon price proposals proposed by the other parties would involve tens of billions of dollars of revenue for governments. And —
Elizabeth May: No.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — Paul, I’ll say what I’ve said to people across the country: a carbon tax is not about reducing emissions. It’s a front. It is about getting revenue for governments that cannot control (crosstalk, inaudible).
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Well, I’ll tell you one thing that is about lowering emissions, Paul.
Elizabeth May: I have to – I have to try to explain that the reason —
Paul Wells: We’ll get —
Elizabeth May: — the Green Party opposes every single one of the pipelines that are proposed, risky pipeline schemes to get unprocessed oil out of this country — Mr. Mulcair’s right. Every single one of these raw bitumen, unprocessed oil pipeline schemes is about exporting Canadian jobs. That’s why the Green Party knows we can oppose every single one of them. And I would like to have Mr. Mulcair’s answer clearly. Will you join us and fight against the risky pipeline and tanker expansion tripling the transport of unprocessed oil from Vancouver? Will you help us defend our coastlines?
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: I share the same concerns as Miss May with regard to the Kinder Morgan pipeline that she just talked about. And in fact, that’s another example of what Mr. Harper’s done to our rules.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Against that one too.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Did you know that the groups that are involved in those processes, in those hearings for Kinder Morgan, are not even allowed to cross-examine the company’s witnesses? That’s a fundamental breach of the rules of natural justice, and that’s why the public doesn’t trust him anymore.
Elizabeth May: But do you oppose the pipeline? Do you oppose the pipeline and the tankers?
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: See, here’s the difference. Opposing these pipelines systematically in advance is just as wrong as supporting them —
Elizabeth May: So you’re prepared —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: — in advance because, in both cases, what you need is an objective study.
Elizabeth May: So you’ve just said that the process is flawed.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: In the case of Energy East, for example —
Elizabeth May: But we should wait for its result?
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: — where we would be replacing the super tankers that right now come down the St. Lawrence to Saint-Romuald across from Quebec City, we’d be replacing the extremely dangerous trains that are going through communities all across Canada. That’s the type of evaluation that we should do — it’s an objective evaluation — if we can get back to a credible system, which we’ve lost.
Unidentified Male: (Off microphone)
Elizabeth May: We have lost it, that’s for sure.
Justin Trudeau: Canadians know that we need an actual approach that gets it, that restores that public trust that we have simply lost over the past years. Mr. Harper has failed on the environment, and therefore he’s failed on the economy. Mr. Mulcair continues to – to say different things in both languages. But I will say that, on Energy East, I have consistently said that it needs to gain social license. And the Conservatives in New Brunswick, you know, criticized me roundly when they were in government. So I don’t know what Mr. Harper’s talking about in terms of that.
Elizabeth May: Energy East is still about export.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Actually, Mr. Trudeau, you said exactly the opposite in an interview with Radio Canada in Rimouski last fall, and it’s easy to find that quote on line.
Elizabeth May: I’m still not sure where you stand on Kinder Morgan, because it’s pretty straightforward. They plan to put three times as many tankers moving out Vancouver, loaded with diluted bitumen. It’s very hazardous, risky material. And we know, wheth– regardless of what kind of process it goes through, it should not go ahead. It must be stopped.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: This is part of my track record, that people are free to consult. When it was the Rabaska liquefied natural gas plant across from Quebec City, and I was the Minister of the Environment, I didn’t even want to look at it because of the danger of those tankers in the St. Lawrence, the same approach I took with regard to Northern Gateway and the tank— dangerous tankers in the Douglas Channel.
With regard to these other projects, we have to be able to look at them objectively with thorough, credible environmental assessment processes.
Elizabeth May: So you take no position.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: I am taking the position that you can study these thing— these projects. Ms. May takes the position that you can say no to them, all of them, in advance. Mr. Harper is taking the position that you can say yes to all of them in advance. We want a clear, thorough, credible process that the public can have confidence in.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: No, the position of the government is that we have a scientific expert evaluation of every project before we decide to proceed. That’s how the government’s – that’s how the government has handled these projects. Mr. Mulcair, by his own admission, has already ruled out a number of projects before they even went through the process and is – and is positioning himself to be against others as well.
Elizabeth May: I’m an intervener.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: That – that is the record of the NDP. They’re always for projects till they actually face one, and then they’re against it. That’s why in British Columbia they oppose even liquefied natural gas.
Elizabeth May: Mr. —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Mr. Harper, I actually have a track record that people are free to look at. And when I was the Minister of the Environment, we sometimes had tough projects. There was a project involving the bridge of the 25 between Laval and Montreal, lots of opposition to it. We went through a thorough evaluation process, we put down 18 conditions in the Order-in-Council approving that project. The public that had been opposed to it was on side by the end of it because they knew they could have confidence in us respecting the environment.
Elizabeth May: But —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Respect for the environment and a strong economy are not opposites; they go hand-in-hand.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: And yet you oppose Northern Gateway before the evaluation —
Elizabeth May: But there’s been something the Prime Minister said —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — and you – and your party propo— opposes liquefied natural gas projects in British Columbia, widely supported, important to the energy diversity strategy (crosstalk, inaudible) —
Elizabeth May: Mr. – Mr. Prime Minister —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: You’ll have to show me where I opposed that, Mr. Harper.
Elizabeth May: — Mr. Prime Minister, where was your commitment you made at – at the G20 in Pittsburgh that you would end fossil fuel subsidies? You’ve just criticized the other opposition parties here be – over new subsidies to fossil fuels. That’s what LNG is, it’s fossil fuels. So you made a commitment globally, you’ve not eliminated the subsidies that go to the oil sands, but now you’ve added new subsidies that go to liquefied natural gas, which is fracked gas, which over its lifetime has the same carbon pollution footprint as coal.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, actually, neither of those things is true. First of all, the government has in fact eliminated subsidies to the oil sands and to the oil sector. We are providing accelerated cast— capital cost allowance to provide clean, liquefied natural gas exports to help encourage that industry that is vital not just to British Columbia but to the energy – the energy sector in this country, and we’re doing so at a time when I have to remind people the energy sector has significant challenges. This is a good proj– these are good projects for the environment and for our economy.
Justin Trudeau: One of the things —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Mr. Harper’s plan is failing.
Justin Trudeau: — one of the things we’ve seen right across – right across the board from this government is a misunderstanding of the role of government around protecting our future and thinking long term. We have at the Liberal Party a very clear plan to reduce climate change emissions by – by – greenhouse gas emission and fight climate change by working with the provinces. As was pointed out, 86 percent of our economy have committed to put a price on carbon with the actions of four different provinces that have taken up the leadership that this government has simply not shown.
Unidentified Male: Mr. Trudeau —
Justin Trudeau: The Liberal Party is focussed on working with those provinces to make sure we do reduce emissions because that’s what actually Canadians expect in order to be good players in the global economy.
Paul Wells: Oh, I have so many questions, and I know so many of you have stuff to say, but we’re going to have to wrap up this segment on energy and the environment.
I want to remind our viewers who are watching on TV that, if you want to engage on social media and have your say on tonight’s debate, you can do so on our Facebook page. So you can talk to other voters about what’s going on here while you’re watching on TV. Well, as for this week, and we’ll talk about these issues all night, but it’s time for another break. Stay tuned.
Back to top
SEGMENT THREE: DEMOCRACY, PART ONE
Paul Wells: We’ve reached the halfway point of the Maclean’s National Leaders Debate. Our next topic of conversation is Canada’s democracy — how it works, why it doesn’t always work as well as we hoped.
Video: Narrator: It’s surprising how much time we’ve spent in recent years debating the institutions of Canadian democracy. The Senate is a mess. Can we clean it up? Should we shut it down? Is that even possible? There are serious questions about how closely our elections reflect the will of the voters. Is it time to replace our first-past-the-post electoral system? How can we fix decorum in the House of Commons and all the appointments a government makes in office? There’s a lot to discuss.
Paul Wells: Our first question on this to Elizabeth May. Ms. May, you’ve called the government we have now an elected dictatorship and you’ve called for electoral reform, but this election will be won and lost under the current electoral system. Do you worry that Green candidates will take support away from other parties that could defeat this government? Might the Green Party help reelect this government?
Elizabeth May: When I refer to the government as an elected dictatorship, it’s not personal in any way to the Prime Minister nor to his party. It’s a reference to what’s happened, a creeping growth, an unhealthy growth of power in the Prime Minister’s Office, which goes along with less of a role for individual members of parliament in doing their fundamental job. The only job description for a member of parliament is that found in the Constitution, which is to represent your constituencies.
So we need to actually revisit parliamentary democracy, understand that this election isn’t about electing a prime minister — we don’t do that in this country; we elect members of parliament. And their job is to find the government that will hold the confidence of the House, so we can work for Canadians.
As far as Greens being concerned about this, not at all. We have had success and we’ve now had election – my election in Saanich–Gulf Islands, but across provinces — in British Columbia Andrew Weaver, in New Brunswick David Coon, in Prince Edward Island Peter Bevan-Baker. All of us got elected by driving voter turnout.
So instead of fixating on this splitting the vote non-problem, vote-splitting, we need to focus on the real problem, which is 40 percent of Canadians in the last number of elections haven’t voted. And vote abandoning, in my view, is a much bigger problem than vote-splitting, and we’re going to do everything we can to reach out to young people, First Nations and those disadvantaged by the Conservative Fair Elections Act to get out a higher level of vote, so that Greens can win in the current system, but that so Canada wins with a healthier democracy.
Paul Wells: You’ve said we don’t elect a prime minister, and that’s true, but we saw quite a mess of a coalition crisis in 2008. Are we headed towards that sort of arbitrage among parties after the next election if there’s no majority?
Elizabeth May: I can’t tell you how committed Green MPs as a caucus will be to working with other parties, working across party lines to ensure that we go from a precarious, perhaps two-year minority parliament to a stable, productive, effective parliament, because you look at really great parliaments in this country, and I refer viewers back to Lester B. Pearson where the small group of NDPers under David Lewis and Diefenbaker in the Conservatives and Lester B. Pearson delivered our social safety net.
Paul Wells: Justin Trudeau, you get to respond.
Justin Trudeau: Elizabeth May makes a number of great points, but one of the ones is something I hear about all across the country when I’m talking to young people, when I’m talking to people who are simply disillusioned and disenchanted with our political system, whether it’s the negativity, the attack, the divisiveness that tends to be rewarded all too often with electoral success, that ends up making it more and more difficult to govern.
But one of the things that really frustrates a lot of people is when they see politicians pander, when they say one thing in one part of the country and a different thing in another part of the country. And one of the things that, unfortunately, Mr. Mulcair has been doing quite regularly is talking in French about his desire to repeal the Clarity Act, to make it easier for those who want to break up this country to actually do so, and in doing so, he’s actually disagreeing with a Supreme Court judgment that said that one vote is not enough to break up the country. And anyone who wants to become Prime Minister not only should not say different things in French and in English, but should make sure that they side with the Supreme Court when it comes to unity of our country.
Paul Wells: Mr. Mulcair, you get to answer that.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Well, I’ve fought for Canada my whole life. I fought in the 1980 referendum. I fought in the 1995 referendum. I spent 13 years in the National Assembly in Quebec City, and I was always consistent fighting for Canada.
Now I can understand it’s a bit frustrating for the Liberals that for the first time in a full generation, Quebecers voted massively for a federalist party, and they wanted nothing to do with the Liberals, and it’s easy to understand why. You just heard it. The only two people I know in Canada who are anxious to start talking about separatism again are Justin Trudeau and Gilles Duceppe.
Mr. Trudeau has an obligation, if he wants to talk about this subject, to come clean with Canadians. What’s his number? What is your number, Mr. Trudeau?
Justin Trudeau: First of all, Mr. Mulcair —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: You’re not answering.
Justin Trudeau: — I don’t question your patriotism.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: You haven’t answered.
Justin Trudeau: The question is —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: What’s the number, Justin?
Justin Trudeau: — why is your policy so reckless? You want a number, Mr. Mulcair?
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Yeah, give us a number.
Justin Trudeau: I’ll give you a number. Nine. My number is nine. Nine Supreme Court justices said one vote is not enough to break up this country, and yet that is Mr. Mulcair’s position. He wants to be Prime Minister of this country, and he’s choosing to side with the separatist movement in Quebec and not with the Supreme Court of Canada.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: So.
Justin Trudeau: And he’s bringing this up. It’s his policy to repeal the Clarity Act. He quietly put forward a bill in the House of Commons on that. He announced it very loudly —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Yes, it’s really secret when you put it in the House of Commons.
Justin Trudeau: — in French. He very loudly announced it in French six weeks ago in – at the Saint-Jean-Baptiste parade —
Paul Wells: Okay, so one —
Justin Trudeau: — and he won’t talk about it in English.
Paul Wells: — one more chance, Mr. Trudeau, to name a margin above 50 percent that you think would be acceptable.
Justin Trudeau: The Supreme Court said very clearly that Mr. Mulcair’s number is not the right one.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: He won’t answer.
Justin Trudeau: What it also said is —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: He won’t give a number.
Justin Trudeau: — a number is to be set in the context of the next referendum.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: If you want to take part in this conversation, you have to have a number.
Justin Trudeau: It is in the next referendum.
Paul Wells: While I’m at it, could I —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: If I can, Paul, look, I’m not going to question Mr. Mulcair’s position as a longtime federalist — that is clear. What I think I do question, along with Mr. Trudeau, is why bring up a debate of the Clarity Act other than to satisfy the separatist elements within the NDP in Quebec? Nobody’s talking about that. You know, we just had Quebecers massively reject that agenda. Nobody wants to raise this. Why would we go down the route of talking about how we – how we can best break up the country when in fact Quebecers clearly do not want to do that? I just don’t understand it.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Well, if there’s one thing that Mr. Harper and I —
Paul Wells: Let me try my luck – let me try my luck —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: — do agree on, Paul —
Paul Wells: Since – since there’s a debate among two of our leaders about the margin that would decide this question in sovereignty, let me put the question to the Prime Minister. As a Reform MP, you used to support a 50 percent margin in a referendum on sovereignty. I don’t believe I’ve heard you give a number or revisit that question as Prime Minister.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, you haven’t heard me revisit it, Paul, because I don’t think it should be revisited.
Justin Trudeau: Indeed.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Look, what happened – what happened in 1995 — and we don’t want that to happen again — where they tried to get 50 percent plus one by invalidating a whole bunch of federalist votes, so I do think we have to look very carefully at that if we ever have that problem again, but you know, I think Quebecers have firmly rejected that. They’ve gone through 40 years of a debate that has done nothing but damage to that province.
Justin Trudeau: Indeed, Quebec, and the irony —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Paul —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Why start promising that to separatists in Quebec?
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: — on that – on that, the Prime Minister and I agree that yes means yes. That’s what he put in his bill. And to say otherwise, as Mr. Trudeau’s doing while still refusing to give his number
Justin Trudeau: Mr. Mulcair —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: — is a dangerous political game, and I’ll tell you why.
Justin Trudeau: Mr. Mulcair —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: If yes doesn’t mean yes, then people could decide to vote yes as a way of sending a signal. That’s why it’s a dangerous political game, and that’s why it’s not a serious way to talk about a very serious subject.
But I’m so proud and I have confidence in Quebecers who have twice rejected separation, and I fought in both of those referendums.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Then why is Mr. Mulcair trying to throw gasoline on a fire that isn’t even burning?
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: (Crosstalk, inaudible) and I have confidence in them. Mr. Trudeau has lost confidence and he thinks that it’s a winning situation for the Liberals to scratch that old wound. That’s what they want to get back to.
Justin Trudeau: Mr. Mulcair, you are the one who announced that position —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: What’s your number, Justin?
Justin Trudeau: — on separation, on making it easier.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: What’s your number?
Justin Trudeau: My position is the Supreme Court’s position —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: What’s your number?
Justin Trudeau: — that says the number should be set in the context of the next referendum if that ever comes. And your play to try and stoke up that separatist vote for the NDP by announcing at Saint-Jean-Baptiste that this is continuing to be your policy is not worthy of a prime minister.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: This has been our policy —
Justin Trudeau: No prime minister should make it easier —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: — for 10 years, but there is —
Justin Trudeau: — for Quebec to separate from Canada, Mr. Mulcair.
Paul Wells: Elizabeth May, and then I want to take this (crosstalk, inaudible)
Elizabeth May: I was just going to say isn’t it ironic that this segment was supposed to be our democratic institutions in this nation. We can as Canadians, it’s been our hallmark for generations that we can disagree without being disagreeable and I would like us to be able to talk about what we do about fixing Parliament because that’s an urgent crisis, and I don’t believe —
Paul Wells: Let’s —
Elizabeth May: — that we want to get ourselves mired into any threat of separatism.
Paul Wells: Let’s do that because the Liberal Party has a project of electoral reform that Mr. Trudeau has said he wants the next election to be last under first-past-the-post. He doesn’t want to have a referendum on any reform. Stephen Harper wants to insist that any change to the electoral system go through a referendum process. Why do you think that should – that should happen?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, I think it’s a very fundamental change to the way our political system would work in this country. We have a Westminster system. Voters are able to elect governments. They don’t elect coalitions that make up the government later. And you know, Canadians – Paul, this has come up before. It was subject of a referendum and plebiscite in Ontario and Prince Edward Island and British Columbia. I have not found Canadians who want to make this fundamental change. In fact, whenever Canadians are asked, they reject it. We know the rules. Let’s play under the rules that Canadians support.
Elizabeth May: That’s not actually the case.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: What’s interesting is to hear Mr. Harper say that today because when he brought in his Unfair Elections Act, he refused to even talk to Canadians about it. We stood up strong in the House of Commons and opposed it. We shut down travel by parliamentary committees. We used every tool in our parliamentary toolbox to stop him from trying to walk away with the next election by jigging the rules. He’s actually made it harder for whole classes of Canadians to vote, and that’s not just our opinion; all of the experts who have looked at this Unfair Elections Act have said the same thing. So Mr. Harper, if you’ve become such a keen fan of making sure that no single party can change the rules, why did you go ahead and do just that with your Unfair Elections Act.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, the Fair Elections Act, the principal change it makes that Mr. Mulcair and the other parties oppose is that voters have to show ID to demonstrate who they are. And there’s 40-some different pieces of ID that they can show. Canadians overwhelmingly support that. That’s an important reform.
Elizabeth May: That change was made in 2007.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Ninety percent of – 90 percent of Canadians —
Elizabeth May: It wasn’t made – it was already made before you introduced the Fair Elections Act.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — believe that you should be able to show – show identification and identify who you are before you vote. And frankly, I think voters should be worried about political parties who would not do that, who think it’s fine to have people who can’t identify themselves.
Elizabeth May: It’s a big disappointment —
Justin Trudeau: This is a perfect example – this is a perfect example of how Mr. Harper creates strawman arguments, creates fears of massive voter fraud. When his party was pressed on examples of people fraudulently voting, they weren’t able to prove anything. Indeed, some of his MPs mistakenly testified to things that they actually hadn’t seen.
The fact of the matter is the jobs of Elections Canada and what we should look at as a goal as a country is to try and encourage as many people as possible to vote and the changes Mr. Harper has made to the Elections Act actually make it more difficult for students, for Aboriginal and indigenous communities, for many seniors to actually vote —
Elizabeth May: Homeless people.
Justin Trudeau: (Crosstalk, inaudible)
Elizabeth May: Much harder.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Mr. Trudeau – Mr. Trudeau —
Justin Trudeau: The fact is that we need to make sure that those voices are being heard because those voices are not just marginalised in voting rights, but in so many aspects of society and Mr. Harper apparently wants to keep it that way.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Mr. Trudeau, how would we know – how would we be able to identify voter fraud if we can’t even identify who voters are? This is a —
Elizabeth May: Electoral —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — commonsense reform supported by 90 percent of Canadians, and we have made sure that there is ID that is applicable for every single category of Canadian, and it’s why that policy is strongly supported.
Paul Wells: Mr. Harper —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: This is an important reform.
Paul Wells: — the Fair Elections Act turns out to be full of surprises. One of the things it did was allow you to extend the election campaign to 11 weeks and prorate expenses to match. Did you have this kind of long election campaign in mind for two years?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Paul, we agreed – all of us here agreed to have an election debate this week months ago. Everybody knew an election would be on. The other parties were out campaigning. It’s very simple. If we are going to be in an election campaign, we should be under the rules of the Election Act, not using parliamentary resources —
Justin Trudeau: So why were you putting up 24/7 on your website, Mr. Harper?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — but using resources that our party raises.
Back to top
SEGMENT THREE: DEMOCRACY, PART TWO
Paul Wells: We’re going to continue this with a new round of questions, and by the luck of the draw, the first question goes to the Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Mr. Harper, you used to promise that you wouldn’t name senators if they hadn’t been elected. Now, you’re promising you won’t name senators at all. You blame the courts for blocking reform, and you’ve asked the provinces to come up with ideas for reform. But the courts and the provinces didn’t name the senators who are in trouble — you did. Do you owe Canadians an apology for putting Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau in the Senate?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, first of all, I certainly did not name all of the senators that are in trouble. You know, the Senate has been an institution that has these kinds of problems for 150 years. I’d say for the first time, we actually have a Senate that now has clear rules and is enforcing those rules.
What I will say is this, Paul. My role is not to apologize for the bad actions of others. When bad actions arise, the role of a leader is to take responsibility and hold people accountable, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.
Paul Wells: Your policy now is not to name senators, essentially indefinitely. There’s already a court case before a judge in British Columbia on the assertion that that simply won’t work, that you can’t empty out the Senate over time because it denatures the constitutional mandate of the Senate. Have you sought constitutional advice on whether you can go ahead with your new policy?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Oh, absolutely. Now you can’t empty the Senate entirely, but we have – I’ve left 22 seats vacant already. The Prime Minister has the power to name those or not name those in the Senate, and what we’ve been able to achieve with that is to begin bringing the costs of the Senate down. They’ve actually fallen by some $6 million. I think those Senate vacancies will force most provinces, who by the way, almost all of them who have opposed Senate elections and Senate reform to, you know, come clean with that and explain why those senators aren’t being elected — I gave them a chance; they won’t elect them — and why they won’t abolish. I think at time – I think over time public pressure will force this issue to be resolved. And frankly, I think the longer there are more vacancies, I think it will raise questions about why we continue with the Senate we do.
Paul Wells: Do you think one good way to come up with ideas with the provinces is to meet with the premiers to discuss this issue?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: No. I have talked to provinces individually over a long period of time. I know what the positions of the provinces are. They were also clear in court. There is nowhere near consensus on either reform or abolition, and I think opening up constitutional discussions is the wrong priority for the country. Our priorities are the economy and security. If the provinces really believe the Senate should be fixed, tell us how. They’ve opposed that. And if they don’t, abolish it.
Paul Wells: Thank you, Mr. Harper. And the first response goes to Tom Mulcair.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Well, Paul, I guess you could say that there are broken promises and then there are broken promises. Mr. Harper promised solemnly to Canadians that he would never name an appointed senator. He’s gone on to break a record and name 59 of them, and the list of Conservative senators under RCMP investigation continues to grow.
I’m looking for a mandate on October 19th to put an end to this mess once and for all. Canadians deserve better.
We think that there are three main things we can do with regard to our institutions. The first is to make sure that every vote counts with a proportional representation system. Open up Parliament, for example. Get rid of the secrecy of the internal committee that looks at how taxpayers’ money is spent. We think taxpayers have a right to see how every single dollar is spent in that secret committee inside the House. And by the way, we do want to get rid of the Senate — abolition, pure and simple. Mr. Trudeau thinks we need better senators. I think we need only former senators.
Paul Wells: Mr. Trudeau.
Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper has just said it, his plan on Senate reform is to tell the provinces stop me before I appoint again. The fact is he made a solemn promise never to appoint a senator and he broke that promise on his very first day as Prime Minister by appointing Michael Fortier to the senator – to the Senate. And then he broke that promise 58 more times. So I can understand why nobody would believe him when he says he’s not going to appoint any more senators right now.
Mr. Mulcair wants to open up the Constitution. The fact of the matter is when the Prime Minister – the next Prime Minister eventually sits down with the premiers to actually talk about things, I can tell you Canadians are going to want the Prime Minister and the premiers to talk about jobs, to talk about climate change, to talk about health care, not to talk about how to open up the Constitution to try and improve the Senate.
The fact is the Liberal Party actually took concrete action to remove senators from our caucus to make sure that any future appointments are done in a transparent, nonpartisan way —
Paul Wells: Eliz—
Elizabeth May: Yes.
Justin Trudeau: — to actually reform the Senate without diving into constitutional reform.
Paul Wells: Elizabeth May.
Elizabeth May: Yeah. Well, with all due respect, Mr. Prime Minister, whoever gave you the advice that simply announcing you wouldn’t appoint senators is constitutional needs to go back to law school. What you’re doing is unconstitutional, but the single biggest scandal that has yet occurred in the Canadian Senate was not the misspending. It was the really illegitimate notion that the Prime Minister’s Office has the right to tell its Conservative senators how to vote. And for the first time in the history of this country, a bill passed in the House of Commons, a democratically elected House, passed Bruce Hyer’s Climate Accountability Act, and when it went to the Senate, the Conservative senators were instructed to kill it at their first opportunity. This is the first time in the history of this country that appointed senators have killed a bill without a single day of study in the Senate of Canada.
Paul Wells: Mr. Harper, did you ask the senators to stop that bill?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: What I – we always ask senators to do — we cannot force them to do anything — what we ask them to do, Paul, is we ask them to support the party’s position. The party didn’t support that particular bill.
But what I would say is this: look at the facts of the Parliament under this government. This is often not reported. We have backbenchers operating and voting more freely than we’ve had in decades. We have more private members’ legislation that has gone through Parliament under this government than multiple governments before us. That’s the reality of the situation.
Justin Trudeau: You’ve also invoked closure —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Paul, I was there —
Justin Trudeau: — more than all previous —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Paul —
Justin Trudeau: — prime ministers combined.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: — I was there with Jack Layton in front of the Senate the days those senators had the temerity to block a bill that had been adopted by those people who had been elected by the Canadian voting public. Ms. May is right, that was the first time in 75 years and on what subject? The most important issue facing future generations. I don’t want my grandchildren to have to bear the burden for wrongheaded choices today.
Mr. Harper has just admitted that he asked the senators to vote to kill a bill adopted by the House of Commons. What greater proof of a lack of respect for our fundamental democracy than asking unelected people to defeat a bill voted upon and enacted by the elected Parliament?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Let’s be very clear. We simply asked senators to stick to their principles and the fact of the matter is that private members’ legislation has been blocked very frequently in the past by the Senate.
Elizabeth May: Never.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: The last time was 75 years ago.
Elizabeth May: Never.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: What is unprecedented would be government legislation. The reason —
Paul Wells: I do have a question —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — I don’t have to name senators and we have 22 vacancies is we have a healthy government majority.
Paul Wells: I do have a question for Mr. Mulcair.
Justin Trudeau: You broke your promise 59 times.
Paul Wells: Mr. Mulcair —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, can I lay out the record on that? Can I lay out the record on that?
Paul Wells: Yes, sir.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: For nearly three years, we left some 20 vacancies in the Senate, invited the provinces to fill those through elections. Only one did. Finally, to get government legislation moving in the Senate, I said in 2008 that I would appoint senators. And we’ve done so, and now we’ve – now that we don’t need to, we have stopped.
But Mr. Trudeau, you talk about truth. You just said there are no Liberal senators.
Paul Wells: Mr. Mulcair —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Go on the parliamentary website. There are 29 Liberal senators there working for the Liberal Party of Canada.
Paul Wells: Mr. Mulcair, we’re talking about Senate abolition. Your Premier Philippe Couillard has told Maclean’s Magazine that no Quebec premier will ever support Senate abolition. Given that Quebec’s assent to a major constitutional reform is usually required, is that not a problem?
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Well, I was with Philippe Couillard just a few weeks ago, and it’s a longstanding position and one that I quite understand. But we would take a completely different approach to dealing with the provinces. This issue of Senate abolition begins with a mandate. It’s not because it’s been there for a long time that we can’t get rid of it. That would mean sitting down with the provinces and territories.
Now Mr. Harper has refused to attend a single meeting of the Council of the Federation since becoming Prime Minister. I’m going to hold two meetings a year — one in Ottawa and one in one or the other of the provinces on a rotating basis. I come out of provincial politics. I’m not afraid of sitting down with my provincial counterparts. On things like health care, we need a new accord, we need a modern accord. Of course I’m going to sit down with them instead of dictating a big cut like Mr. Harper did just a couple of years ago.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, health care – health care transfers have risen —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: On Senate reform, I would ask for mandate on October 19th, and I’d start the hard work that I’ve already started, in fact, in opposition of meeting with the premiers to try to get them onboard to get rid of this undemocratic, unaccountable institution that is a relic from our colonial past.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Mr. Mulcair, not only do you respect, as I do, the Government of Quebec’s position against Senate abolition, it was your position for all the years you were in the Government of Quebec. You should be clear about that.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: And Mr. Harper’s proving my point. It’s a longstanding position. Since the unilateral patriation of the Constitution in ‘82, every successive Quebec government has said that. That’s why I’m not at all hesitant to sit down again with my friend and former colleague Philippe Couillard and work on this very tough issue —
Paul Wells: Senate abolition —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: — because I believe sincerely that the only way to deal with the Senate is to get rid of it. One billion dollars has been spent on the Senate on Mr. Harper’s watch. He’s done nothing about abolition. He’s done nothing about reform. Can you imagine how many child care spaces we could have created with $1 billion, Mr. Wells?
Paul Wells: I’m being reminded that Elizabeth May has not had much of a chance to address these questions.
Elizabeth May: I would appreciate that. The way that the Greens advocate that we change the way we make decisions in Canada to create a space where we could work together is to create a Council of Canadian Governments, which would include building on the Council of the Federation, but federal, provincial, territorial, representation from municipal and local governments as well as First Nations, Métis and Inuit around the same table. We need to deal with the Senate. It’s not my top priority because it’s hard. It’s going to require opening up the Constitution. We think we should amend the amending formula, so that Canadians can change our Constitution by referendum instead of the antiquated formula we’re saddled with today.
Paul Wells: Mr. Trudeau, the Prime Minister called you out. He said there’s a lot of Liberal senators on the website. Is Larry Campbell in Vancouver a Liberal senator?
Justin Trudeau: Well, no. He is – he is not part of our caucus. We are – we have released the senators, so they can be independent. A number of them have chosen to be independent. Some have chosen to continue to call themselves Liberals, but unlike what Mr. Harper just said, which is that he directed those senators to vote along the party lines, I haven’t done that, and I no longer have the power to do that over the senators who are now – who were formerly in the Liberal caucus because we feel that the decisions that are taken in the upper house should be independent of the political manoeuvrings that Mr. Harper has excelled at —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Actually, Mr. Trudeau, in the Senate —
Justin Trudeau: — over the past years. He has imposed them.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — Liberal senators vote the Liberal party line every single time.
Justin Trudeau: That’s not true, Mr. Harper.
Paul Wells: Mr. Mulcair, about 20 seconds to (crosstalk, inaudible).
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: To listen to Mr. Trudeau, you’d somehow have to believe that the Liberal senators have somehow changed now that they’re Senate Liberals. Here’s the reality. During the most recent provincial election in Nova Scotia, the new Premier had all of the Senate Liberals up on stage to thank them for doing his fundraising. The bagmen of the Liberal Party are still in the Senate.
Elizabeth May: Here’s a surprise for you.
Paul Wells: Okay, I’m afraid we’ve —
Elizabeth May: Larry Campbell’s endorsed me in my riding. Just thought I’d throw that in.
Justin Trudeau: I don’t think that’s the answer.
Paul Wells: I’m afraid we’ve got to say bye-bye. Stay with us for the final round of the night and for closing remarks.
Back to top
SEGMENT FOUR: FOREIGN POLICY, PT. 1
Paul Wells: And welcome back once again to the Maclean’s National Leaders Debate. Our final topic for tonight’s debate is on foreign policy and security.
If there ever was a distinction between the choices Canada makes abroad and the way we live at home, it vanished last October, when loners inspired by international terrorist movements murdered Canadian Forces soldiers in Ottawa and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu. Canadians’ security is being challenged in Iraq and Syria. Our commitments to our allies are tested in eastern Europe. Our relations with the United States and with the world’s rising powers are still another area of controversy. In our final segment, we’ll discuss Canada in the world.
Our first question on this goes to Tom Mulcair. Mr. Mulcair, Canadians are reluctant to send soldiers into combat, but they have also always been willing to defend Canadian values by force when necessary. The NDP’s historic reluctance about sending troops into combat has never been tested in power at the federal level. Would an NDP government ever send troops or jet fighters into combat? And if so, where?
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Yes, we’ve shown that willingness in the past when it was based on a UN mandate, as in the case of Libya. We agreed with the first two parts of that, the two votes in the House, and then we withdrew that when they changed the nature of the mission that they were asking us to support. Prime Ministers consulted me on sending in Canadian airlift capability into Mali, and we agreed with that. So yes, there will be times when that will be appropriate.
But before I would ever send in our brave women and men in uniform and risk their lives, I will think about them, I’ll think about their families, and I’ll make sure that we have a clearly defined mission and a clear exit strategy. That’s why, when Mr. Harper started his most recent adventure in Iraq, we said no way, this is not something that Canada should be involved in. Now, every single person on this panel, Paul, agrees with the importance of fighting terrorism, but the question is when do we put Canadian troops in harm’s way. And we thought the – thought that, in that case, it was inappropriate.
Paul Wells: All of Canada’s traditional allies — the United States under a Democratic President, the United Kingdom, and France — support the – the mission against ISIS in Iraq, and to some extent in the – in Syria. Is that not a broad enough consensus for (crosstalk, inaudible)?
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Multilateralism has always been a Canadian approach. But don’t forget, you’ve just named a few NATO allies, but this is not a NATO mission. This is an American-led mission. This is not a United Nations mission, unlike the mission I just referred to in Libya a couple of years ago. So we think that we are taking a wrongheaded approach here, and we know that a lot of the horrors that we are seeing are the direct result of the last misguided war. And I think that, frankly, Canada got it right when we said that we would stay out of the 2003 war, and we are seeing the results of that wrongheaded decision now.
Paul Wells: Thank you, Mr. Mulcair. And the first response to you goes to Elizabeth May.
Elizabeth May: Thank you. Mr. Mulcair, with all due respect, that second vote, where every single New Democratic Party member voted for the continued – continued bombardment of Libya, took place after the mission had changed. The UN sanction and approval was for responsibility to protect, to protect civilians in Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya from Muammar Gaddafi. At the moment that we as a country, Canada, said oh, the rebel forces, they’re the legitimate new government of Libya, we did that knowing full well those rebel forces included al-Qaeda. I was the only Member of Parliament who voted against continued bombardment because it seemed pretty clear to me that, with a peace offer on the table, we should take that cease-fire and see if it would work. The warehouses full of armaments that belonged to Gaddafi in Tripoli and throughout Libya ended up being emptied out by hoodlums and terrorists, and ended up destabilizing Mali. And some of those very weapons ended up – ended up in the hands of ISIS.
So the question is how could we, as a country that has always stood for peacekeeping and cease-fires, why did every NDP member vote to continue bombardment when everything I just said was already clear?
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Well, I guess, Paul, that the answer to that is that we’re always going to evaluate it based on whether or not it is a United Nations mission. And indeed, when it had become clear that it had morphed into a mission for regime change, the NDP did not vote for it. So that shows the subtlety of our approach. Ms. May is opposed to every single possible use of our military. Mr. Harper is in favour —
Elizabeth May: That’s not true.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: — of every single possible use of our military. We’re going to take a balanced approach that will take into account traditional Canadian values and multilateralism.
Paul Wells: Justin Trudeau, while I’m doing this tour of parties that aren’t in government and asking about when they would use force, do you think that we need a United Nations mandate before we send Canadian troops abroad?
Justin Trudeau: No, I think it’s certainly a clear indicator that we should be involved, but there are other situations in which we shouldn’t. I mean, I’ve supported our engagement in Afghanistan. I certainly supported our engagement in Kosovo. And the fact is that I’m proud to actually have among us, in our great team of candidates, the former Commander of the Army, who was on the ground in Afghanistan. So the Liberal Party knows that Canada has an important role to play around the world in promoting peace and security.
Where I disagree with the Prime Minister on this current mission is not that Canada shouldn’t have a role against ISIL. I absolutely believe we should. I just disagree on the approach that he’s had. Unfortunately, Mr. Harper, as we’ve well seen, hasn’t seen a war he hasn’t wanted to get involved in, and that was very clear when he supported the – the – George W. Bush’s war into Iraq, where he said in 2003 that Canada should be involved. The fact is Canada should have a role to play, but it needs to be the right one that’s actually going to help the local forces fight and win the war for themselves. And that’s why I’ve consistently supported training —
Paul Wells: Mr. Trudeau – Mr. Harper.
Justin Trudeau: — not combat missions.
Paul Wells: Mr. Harper, two of your opponents have said you – you haven’t seen a war that you don’t like. What do you – what do you make of that?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, I – I don’t think this government’s actually got involved in very many military actions, but we are certainly involved in one now against the – against ISIS, the so-called Islamic State, in Iraq and Syria. And it’s not true what Mr. Mulcair says. It’s not a few NATO allies; all of our NATO allies support this. And not only our NATO allies. Virtually all of the countries of the region, a Muslim region, support this. The reason they support this is this organization has become the global nerve centre of a violent, jihadist movement that is not only threatening, literally slaughtering hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and Syria before we intervened, but is a threat to the entire region and a threat to the entire globe. It has singled out Canada and Canadians by name, and has demonstrated the ability to carry out attacks in countries like ours. It would be absolutely foolish for us not – not to go after this group before they come after us. And look, I’m very proud of the – of the job that the men and women are doing, taking this on in concert with our allies, and – and I think it is very widely supported by Canadians because they – they understand that it’s common sense.
Paul Wells: Mr. Trudeau —
Justin Trudeau: The Liberal Party —
Paul Wells: — this sounds like something one of my colleagues – a question one of my colleagues put to you. If not ISIL, then who? You know, when —
Justin Trudeau: The Liberal Party has been very clear. We support being part of the coalition against ISIL. We simply disagree that a bombing mission is the right way to go about it. When a Prime Minister chooses to send men and women of the Canadian Forces into harm’s way, there has to be a clear plan, there has to be a clear expectation of success, and there has to be a reasonable justification of the specific action Canada’s taking, not just these people are bad, therefore we need to do something, it doesn’t really matter what. It means that we have to be thoughtful because our allies, and quite frankly, Canadians expect us to be thoughtful about our approach when we engage in international (crosstalk, inaudible).
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: But Mr. Trudeau —
Justin Trudeau: The other thing is, if we are going to send our troops overseas, we need to make sure we are properly taking care of them when they come home. And Mr. Harper has failed our veterans by nickel-and-diming them, by not giving them the service, the help that they need. And it’s something that we should all be ashamed of, that this government, that likes to wrap itself in the flag, is actually not caring for those people who have fought, injured themselves, and —
Paul Wells: Mr. Harper.
Justin Trudeau: — in many cases, died—
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well—
Justin Trudeau: — under that flag (crosstalk, inaudible).
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — this government has – this government has made record investments in veterans. We’re spending 35 percent more on the average veteran today directly than we were when we came to office.
But let me go back to the central question of the ISIS mission. What we are doing in ISIS is precisely the mission that the inter– our international allies think we should be doing. These are the pro– these are the priorities: hit them in the air, and help to train people, particularly the Kurds, on the ground. Mr. – Mr. Trudeau has provided no rational reason for why he is against that, other than to simply slag the military when asked why they shouldn’t go there. This is a mission supported by Canadians and our allies, and it is in the vital security of – interests of this country. And if you’re Prime Minister, you have to be able to make these kinds of decisions.
Elizabeth May: But it’s a tricky area. It’s murky, and the question of who’s our enemy and who’s our friend. We’re bombing in Syria. We don’t have permission from Bashar al-Assad, although, when you first said, Mr. Prime Minister, we’d wait for his permission, that was pretty strange because he’s a butcher. The civil war that’s been waging in Syria has caused massive humanitarian crisis, loss of life, four million Syrians who’ve taken refuge in other neighbouring countries. We ste– we stood back and didn’t do anything while that was going on. That wasn’t ISIS murdering people; that was a civil war where the Sunni and the Shiite and the factions within the Muslim world are slaughtering each other, and ISIS is taking advantage of that. Are we on the side of Bashar al-Assad now? Are we going to help bomb ISIS, which we used to – frankly, there were some people who said ISIS was probably a helpful force because they were against Bashar al-Assad.
Paul Wells: Okay, but isn’t it one of the awful tricks of history that most of the world’s crisis areas are in tricky parts of the world? I mean —
Elizabeth May: It’s very tricky, but that’s why we have to look at what ISIS is doing. Why does this group of despicable thugs put their horrific acts on YouTube? Because they want to draw us into the region. They are following a very ancient and not official text of the – of their – which they claim is essentially a Muslim Book of Revelations that will lead them to certain results, but only if infidels are in the right place at the right time for them to attack. So we are actually doing what they want when we go in with bombing missions.
Paul Wells: One more question to Mr. Mulcair, in fact —
Elizabeth May: It helps them recruit.
Paul Wells: — my first question about a different part of the world, Ukraine and – and eastern Europe. Canada’s part of a – of a NATO mission there. NATO’s Article 5 says that, if our – if a NATO nation is attacked, all NATO nations must respond. Would an NDP government uphold NATO’s Article 5 in eastern Europe against Putin?
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Of course Ukraine, not being a member of NATO, I’m not sure the – that the question would pertain. I guess what you’re saying is if a NATO —
Paul Wells: Ukraine’s neighbours.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Well, if – again, we will of course support NATO. We are proud members of NATO, and that’s why I made reference earlier to the fact that that should be one of our multilateral cornerstones, is whether or not a mission is a NATO mission. And despite what Mr. Harper just said, the mission in Iraq is not a NATO mission, period. Full stop.
With regard to Ukraine, yes, Putin is a danger. We stand firmly with Ukraine against the aggression by Russia. But there are things that Canada can and should be doing. Now, our allies, again, have a rather complete list of people who are being sanctioned. There are two key players. One is Vladimir Yakunin; the other is Igor Sechin. Mr. Harper is sheltering them. They are not on Canada’s list. So my question to you, Mr. Harper, is why are these two individuals being blocked by all of our allies and you’re giving them a free pass.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, let me be very clear about how we have handled sanctions. And we have sanctioned a record number not just of Russian officials but of Ukrainian officials connected with the previous government, and Russian officials who are involved in Ukrainian territory. We have – all the allies have slightly different lists because the objective in all of these things is to make sure we do maximum damage to Vladimir Putin and to the Russian economy while trying to minimize damages to our own. Where all of our allies list people, we follow invariably with those lists, and they do the same thing.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Paul, these two individuals are on the lists of all of our closest allies. Mr. Harper is refusing them – to put them on the – on Canada’s list, and now he’s refusing to tell Canadians why.
Paul Wells: On that note, we’re going to wrap up this part of this segment on foreign policy and security, but we’re heading into one final round of questions, and that question goes to Justin Trudeau from the Liberal Party.
Back to top
SEGMENT FOUR: FOREIGN POLICY, PT. 2
Paul Wells: Mr. Trudeau, you’ve had to make difficult decisions on issues of war abroad and security at home: opposing the government’s decision to take part in the international action against ISIL in Iraq and Syria; supporting the anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-51, in Parliament, even though you say you would change it later. Why do these issues raise the most persistent questions about your judgment?
Justin Trudeau: The fact is the Government of Canada and the Prime Minister is expected to do – to do two things by Canadians. The first one is to keep us safe; the second is to uphold and defend our rights and freedoms. Now, Mr. Harper doesn’t think we need to do anything more to protect our rights and freedoms, and Mr. Mulcair, with his position on counterterrorism laws, doesn’t think we need to do anything more on security. The Liberal Party has been very clear. We need to do both of them together. We supported that legislation because there were specific elements in there that immediately and concretely protect Canadian security, and we’re committed to repealing the problematic elements that have been highlighted and actually bringing in the proper oversight that our Five Eyes allies all have by elected legislators over our national security agencies to make sure that we are protecting; also, bringing in sunset and review clause, and making sure that we are narrowing and specifying the definitions.
We managed at committee to encourage the government to bring in significant amendments that removed a number of very problematic elements in it, and we will continue to be productive and constructive in not pretending that there’s a political choice to be made. Perhaps it was naive. Perhaps there was something that I put forward and said, you know what, we can take a responsible position at a time of politics of attack and division, because Mr. Harper wants to be – everyone to be scared that there are terrorists hiding behind every leaf and rock; Mr. Mulcair wants us to be scared for our Charter and our basic rights and freedoms. The fact is any Canadian government needs to do them both together. And that is what the Liberal Party has demonstrated in the years following 9/11. That’s what we continue to demonstrate in terms of getting that balance right.
Paul Wells: Mr. Harper, what do you make of Mr. Trudeau’s responses on these key questions?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, I – look, I’ll let Mr. Trudeau explain his own position. He’s been both for and against the legislation at the same time. What I say is this, Paul. Our – our view is very clear, that security and freedom go hand-in-hand. We know that the international jihadist movement that we face is a very serious menace to this planet, including to this country. What we did in developing our legislation is we looked at what modern powers police and security agencies have across our allies, and we’ve made sure that we are up to those standards. We’ve also provided – Mr. Trudeau talks about oversight. We have moved our oversight in a very different direction, not having politicians do oversight. We have poli— we have oversight done by independent experts, by people who are experts in the field, an independent committee, and they are chaired. And – and those – chair – chaired by prominent former judges. I think that’s – I think that is a robust system of oversight.
Justin Trudeau: When you look —
Paul Wells: When you support Parliamentary oversight —
Justin Trudeau: Exactly.
Paul Wells: — and processes like these —
Justin Trudeau: When you look to the core of Reform Party —
Paul Wells: — why did you change your mind? Is it because you don’t like these politicians?
Justin Trudeau: — that was what it was all about.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: No, I’ve – I don’t support this kind of oversight. I – I support parliamentarians’ oversight on legislation. That is our – that is our role, to draft laws, to make laws. When it comes to the operations of government, the operations of security agencies, I don’t think those things should be politicized or done by politicians. I think they should be done by experts and by judges —
Elizabeth May: There is no —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — who (crosstalk, inaudible) —
Elizabeth May: — expert oversight —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — and that’s what’s being done.
Elizabeth May: — there is no expert oversight —
Justin Trudeau: They – they need—
Elizabeth May: — of C-51. There’s no oversight at all. And if you listen to security experts — and I urge anyone watching to go on line and find the evidence of Joe Fogarty, who is an MI5 agent from the UK doing liaison intelligence work with Canada — this C-51 Anti-terrorism Act makes us less safe. It is not confronting terrorism. It is very likely to make us less able to disrupt plots while, at the same time, eroding our freedoms. And under – Joe Fogarty’s evidence under oath was that this legislation is dangerous, and that when asked by contacts and colleagues in the UK, is there anything Canada is doing that the UK should emulate, he said absolutely not, they’re sitting on a tragedy waiting to happen.
Paul Wells: Tom Mulcair, I suspect you have something to say about all this.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: We all agree, Paul, that we have to, whoever forms government, make sure that we protect Canadians from terrorism. There’s no disagreement on this panel about that. But we strongly believe that you have to do that without trampling on the rights and freedoms of Canadians. Now, when a series of former Prime Ministers, Supreme Court Justices, the top legal experts in the country all concur that Bill C-51 represents a real threat to our rights and freedoms with nothing in return, because there’s nothing in there that wasn’t already captured by existing legislation, then we have one clear answer to the Canadian voting public. The NDP will repeal Bill C-51.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, this is – this is an N–
Paul Wells: And not introduce any legislation to give any new tools to police or to CSIS?
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: If there is evidence that something’s missing. For example, the Conservatives left completely silent the question of domestic radicalization. And the problem is of course some of the code words used by the Conservatives has been very worrisome. For example, President Obama will talk about working with houses of worship and religions leaders; Mr. Harper points out and singles out mosques. He knows why he’s using that language. He has a backbencher who said that Muslim women should get the hell back where they came from, and he’s about to sign that person’s nomination papers. I find that reprehensible and beneath the dignity of a Canadian Prime Minister.
Paul Wells: Mr. Harper, are you using code words against Muslim —
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Absolutely not. Look, Mr. Mulcair’s mantra, the NDP’s mantra, is the same on this every single time. Every – every piece of security legislation ever presented to Parliament the NDP has opposed. What we have done in the latest security legislation are things like: allowing security organizations to share information on terrorist threats; allowing them to intervene before plots develop to prevent the very kind of thing that happened in St-Jean in October. It is important – I believe it is important that we call the international jihadist threat exactly what it is. And anyone who thinks that is somehow labelling Islam, the vast – Muslims are the vast majority of victims of this movement. Muslim minorities are a particular focus of our international efforts to make sure we protect people, not just – not just in this country but around the world. If you’re not prepared to call the threat we face by the name it is, you are not prepared to confront it, and we need to confront it as a country.
Paul Wells: Elizabeth May.
Elizabeth May: C-51 does not do the things the Prime Minister just said. This legislation fails, as Mr. Mulcair said, to bring in any efforts, which the UK have brought in in their legislation, to confront the risk of radicalization. We can abort terrorist plots without C-51. We got the – the air —
Paul Wells: Scarborough 18.
Elizabeth May: — the CA — the 18 in Toronto. We – we arrested young people who were about to leave Montreal. That was all before C-51 was passed. C-51 creates a secret police under CSIS with no reporting requirements to the RCMP. None. And it will create separate security espionage groups not knowing what the other is doing. This legislation must be repealed, and then we should go back, look at the recommendations to anyone here — and I – and I hope to be playing a key role in the next Parliament. We must look at the – at the recommendations from the Air India inquiry, from former Justice John Major, we must look at the recommendations from the Maher Arar inquiry, and use those recommendations as the basis for drawing up legislation that could work. This is a disaster.
Paul Wells: Justin Trudeau, I want to come back on C-51. Are you surprised by the reaction to your stance — Liberal members cutting up their party cards, Liberal members leaving your party to support the NDP — over this issue?
Justin Trudeau: No. I – I think this is an issue that people are – are quite rightly worked up about. There’s an awful lot of fear and division going on in politics these days, and one of the things that the Liberal Party is focussed on is taking responsible decisions. And that means there will be people disagreeing on the left and on the right with our positions. And I’m fairly – I’m fairly confident — I am confident — that we have the right position here. We need to talk a lot more about attacking – addressing radicalization, working with various communities to make sure that we are engaging in the kind of counter-radicalization that other countries have done successfully —
Paul Wells: Well – well, let me —
Justin Trudeau: — and that a country like Canada, particularly a country that is so strong, not in spite of our differences but because of those differences, we need to reduce the kind of politics of fear and division and actually work together to make sure that we’re keeping Canadians safe. And that’s certainly something that the Liberal Party knows we need to do a lot more of.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Let – let’s – let’s talk about —
Paul Wells: Mr. Mulcair.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — the issue of preventing and countering radicalization. There are important measures in C-51 to stop the advocacy and promotion of terrorism. But the fact of the matter is the reason we have had such success in this country in breaking up plots before they have occurred — and we know what some of those are — is because our law enforcement and security agencies are working more closely with communities that are vulnerable than anywhere in the world, and they get great support. And that is because we have strong policies that promote multicultural and cultural integration in this country. And that’s why we don’t have the kinds of problems in Britain and elsewhere. And these are the ki– exactly the kinds of policies the Government of Canada and its agencies are doing today.
Paul Wells: Mr. Mulcair.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Mr. Harper’s approach has left us weaker and less respected on the world stage. For the first time since the United Nations was created, Canada missed its turn on the Security Council. And by the way, Mr. Harper, we weren’t thrown out by dictatorships. We were thrown out by long-time allies like Portugal and Germany, who simply don’t recognize the Canada that you’re projecting onto the world stage. We can get back to a Canada that’s respected on issues of international aid and development. We’ll put back the international aid budgets that Mr. Harper has cut. We’ll protect, defend, and promote those Canadian values on the international stage. We also will start to respect our international obligations, stop working against the world, start working for the planet. I would love nothing more than, as Prime Minister next December, to go to the International Conference on Climate Change in Paris and to do just that —
Paul Wells: Mr. Harper —
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: — get us on track to deal with the very real issue of climate change.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Mr. Mulcair —
Paul Wells: — is Canada weaker and less respected on the world stage?
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Quite the contrary. Mr. Mulcair, according to the Reputation Institute, a recently published study — it’s a widely regarded organization — Canada is the most admired – most admired country in the world because we take strong stands, we do what we believe is right.
Now, let’s talk about the Security Council of the United Nations. There is a movement at the United Nations to isolate and denigrate the state of Israel. This government has taken a very clear position. We will not – we will not support that. It is wrong. This is the only country in the world whose existence is under threat. It is a friend and ally, one of the best friends and ally– the best friend and ally this country has —
Paul Wells: We’ve got 30 seconds and we cannot go over.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — in a very dangerous region, and we will never go —
Paul Wells: Tom Mulcair, very briefly. Justin Trudeau very briefly.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — along with that anti-Israel position.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: I’ll take no lessons from anyone on defending the right of Israel to defend itself. But we also take a very balanced approach. We want a safe state for Palestinians, and a safe state for Israelis. That’s a balanced approach. That’s the type of approach Canada has always taken on the world stage —
Paul Wells: Justin Trudeau.
Justin Trudeau: And all —
Paul Wells: Thirty seconds.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: — that’s the approach that we would take.
Justin Trudeau: — all parties are in agreement on this. We’ve been talking about international relations. We have the worst relationship with the United States that we’ve had in a long time. That’s what we need to fix as well.
Back to top
Paul Wells: We have covered so much ground over the last two hours. And now it’s time to wrap things up with some closing remarks. Each leader will have two minutes, and we begin with Stephen Harper.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Thank you, Paul. Ladies and gentlemen, this election is about who has the proven experience to keep Canada safe and our economy strong. We know that, beyond our shores, the global economy remains in a state of turmoil and uncertainty. We have falling oil prices, we have market turmoil in China, we have yet another debt crisis in Europe. But through it all, since the end of the global financial crisis, we have the best economic growth, the best job creation, and the best growth in middle class incomes among any of the advanced, developed nations. While other countries are descending into spirals of debt and deficit, with tax hikes and cuts to their programs and services and economic stagnation, in this country we have a balanced budget with lower taxes, increased money for the things that matter, transfers for health care, education, for infrastructure, and for benefits for families like yours.
The other parties want a different course. They would replace our low-tax, balanced budget plan. They want to spend tens of billions of dollars additional in permanent spending to be financed by high taxes, permanently high ta– higher taxes, and permanent deficits. They would take away, in whole or in part, your Universal Child Care Benefit, income splitting for families and seniors, and tax-free savings accounts. They would hike taxes on business and on workers through increases – tax increases on the Canada Pension Plan, tax increases to employment insurance, and a carbon tax. Countries that have gone down the road of higher taxes and permanent deficits are failing around the world. You know. You know that today there is no – there has been and there is no better place and no better prospects for your family than this country, Canada. On October the 19th I ask for your support so together we can continue to build the best country in the world.
Paul Wells: Thank you, Stephen Harper. The next closing statement is Tom Mulcair.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Thank you, Paul. I’d like to begin by thanking Maclean’s and Rogers for organizing tonight’s debate, and thank all of you at home for joining us in the middle of the summer.
In this election, there is a clear choice: four more years of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, or my plan for positive change. Under Mr. Harper’s plan, incomes are stagnant, household debt is skyrocketing. Mr. Harper has the worst job record since the Second World War. He’s run up eight deficits in a row, and added $150 billion to Canada’s debt. Our – and these values – sorry. Mr. Harper’s plan clearly isn’t working. The list of Conservative operatives under RCMP investigation is continuing to grow. Some have even been sent to jail. The biggest risk for Canada is four more years of Mr. Harper’s government.
It is time for a change – change that’s built on hard work, living within your means, and accountability. These are the values that have guided by 35 years of public service, and these are the values that will continue to guide me. My number one priority is to kick-start the economy and get Canadians working. We will invest in local infrastructure and help small businesses to create jobs. And we understand that good jobs and a clean environment go hand-in-hand. I have fought for Canada my whole life. I know that Canada is the greatest country in the world. But a lot has been lost under the Conservatives. I have the experience to replace Mr. Harper, and the plan to repair the damage that he has done. Canadians are ready for change. We’re ready too. I invite you to join us. Thank you.
Paul Wells: Thank you, Tom Mulcair. And the next round of closing remarks go to Elizabeth May.
Elizabeth May: Thank you, and I also want to thank Maclean’s and Rogers. This May, as we currently stand here on August 6th, be the only debate that involves all of us in an English language debate, and maybe we won’t get a French language debate. So I appreciate the opportunity to speak directly to Canadians.
I want to say that it will be a shame if we don’t have more debates, because as – as comprehensive as the questions were, we have not discussed social policy, we have not discussed how we respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we’ve not discussed how we must expand our Medicare system to include pharmacare, what we should do for young people who are facing crushing levels of student debts, and their families. We have a lot of issues to discuss. Inequality. Everyone’s talking about the middle class, and I support the concern, but the 86 wealthiest families in this country have the same combined wealth as the 11.4 million dol– million Canadians at the bottom. One-third of Canadians have the combined wealth as the top 86 families. We have to address this.
So I ask you to consider the Green Party. I ask you to get to know us. We are not what you think. We’re not a one-issue party, we’re certainly not a one-person party. I’m enormously proud to be joined by Deputy Leader, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay–Superior North Bruce Hyer, by Deputy Leader Daniel Green in Quebec. We have exemplary candidates from coast to coast to coast: people like Claire Martin in North Vancouver; people like Gord Miller, former Environment Commissioner for Ontario, in Guelph. We’re running strong candidates to be strong MPs because we want to work for you. We want to go to work for you in a more collaborative Parliament, one with greater respect, with civility in our discourse. We’re willing to work across party lines to deliver what Canadians want. We believe in a Canada that works. We believe in a Canada that works together for all of us. Help us now. This is the election where we will get our country back.
Paul Wells: Thank you, Elizabeth May. I’ve almost never seen a bunch of politicians stick to their time as well as these ones are doing, and I very much appreciate it. Justin Trudeau, you get the last word.
Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper has spent millions of dollars on attack ads trying to convince you that I’m not ready for this job. As silly as they are, they do pose an important question. How can you decide whether someone is ready to be your Prime Minister? Here’s what I think. In order to know if someone is ready for this job, ask them what they want to do with this job, and why they want it in the first place.
I’m a 43-year-old father of three kids, and I love them deeply, and I want them to grow up in the best country in the world, one that we can all be proud of. What I learned from my father is that, to lead this country, you need to love this country, love it more than you crave power. It needs to run through your veins. You need to feel it in your bones. Mr. Harper and I part ways on many issues, but our differences go deeper than just policy. Mr. Harper is dead wrong about one thing. He wants you to believe that better just isn’t possible. Well, I think that’s wrong. We are who we are, and Canada is what it is, because in our hearts we’ve always known that better is always possible. An economy that works for the middle class means a country that works for everyone, a country that is strong not in spite of our differences but because of them. The world needs more of both those things. And after ten years of Mr. Harper, so do we.
Paul Wells: Thank you, Mr.—
Justin Trudeau: That’s why I’m in this. That’s why I want to be your Prime Minister.
Paul Wells: Thank you, Mr. Trudeau. This concludes the first debate of this campaign. This whole experiment was a bit of a new experience for everybody concerned, and I want to thank the leaders for the leap of faith that they showed when they agreed to participate. Good luck on the campaign trail to all of you.
On behalf of Maclean’s, City and OMNI, I want to thank the viewers at home and on line for tuning in tonight. Be sure to visit the Maclean’s website for complete coverage of this campaign. Please stay tuned on OMNI. I’m heading over there right now for the City News special, Your Vote, Your Future. I’m Paul Wells. Good night from Toronto.