Big city mayors at the table: Politics on TV, Nov. 15 edition

Talking with big city mayors, about the situation in Gaza, and the need for a national energy strategy

Message of the day

“Canadians spend a month every year waiting in traffic.”

Hot Topics

  1. Big city mayors talk Infrastructure
  2. The situation in Gaza
  3. Bob Rae on energy policy

Questions not answered

  • Will the government agree to partner with the municipalities on this infrastructure spending?


With the big city mayors in town, Power & Politics sat down with mayors Jim Watson, Gregor Robertson and Naheed Nenshi to talk about their $2.5 billion per year demand for infrastructure. Nenshi said that cities are the economic and political engines of the country, and that quality of life is a necessary condition for growth. Robertson said that the Economic Action Plan did help to start addressing the accumulated infrastructure deficit, but that there is still a lot of work to do, especially with congestion and a lack of transit. Watson said that all levels of government have a stake in having good infrastructure and keeping products moving along highways and rail, and that it’s in their own self-interest not to rely on property taxpayers to pay for major infrastructure projects.

The three mayors were also on Power Play, where Robertson added that cities put $12 billion per year into infrastructure, and they want these new matching dollars for crumbling infrastructure and transit. Watson said that they are asking for a 20-year agreement in order to do some long-term planning. Nenshi added that the only federal organisation right now dealing with infrastructure is P3 Canada, but that the math shows that it costs the same in the long run to fund projects directly than through public-private partnerships.

P&P’s Power Panel gave their thoughts, where John Ivison said that this government likes infrastructure projects, and that this is not an optional spend. Yaroslav Baran said that nobody can fault mayors for asking for money for infrastructure, but if being fair, the federal government has been more generous with extra-territorial spending. Liza Frulla said that this kind of long-term planning was successful in Quebec. Gerry Caplan said there is $171 billion of urgent needs infrastructure needs including water, and that he’s not sure what the country is going to do if it goes unaddressed.

The Israel-Gaza situation:

Don Martin spoke with Israeli ambassador to Canada Miriam Ziv about the country’s decision to retaliate against the rocket attacks into the southern part of the country. Ziv said that Iran has been sending arms to Gaza, smuggling them via Sudan, then through tunnels in the Sinai. She noted that Egypt is facing the same problems, as al-Qaeda terrorists have killed their own soldiers recently.

Evan Solomon spoke with Egyptian ambassador to Canada Wael Kamal Aboul Magd, who said that the Egyptian Prime Minister’s trip to Gaza tomorrow is a show of solidarity with the civilian population, and that their immediate desire is to stop the violence. The ambassador noted the quiet attempts at negotiating a truce leading up to the assassination of the military leader of Hamas, and that his government wants a resumption of a genuine peace process.

Martin also spoke with Constanza Musu from the University of Ottawa, so said that the situation is at a “five out of ten” for intensity, and that part of the escalation is a movement of troops and announcement that reservists might be called in. Musu said that the ability of Hamas to target Tel Aviv was a symbolic provocation because that is a region that is used to a more refined lifestyle, and that Israel’s targeting the military leader of Hamas will trigger a higher-level response.

Solomon spoke with former ambassador to Israel and Egypt Michael Bell and Mohamad El-Rashidy from the Canadian Arab Federation. Bell said that Israel feels exposed and vulnerable because of the rocket attacks, and the only way to avoid conflict is for Hamas to cease its rocket fire. He also said that Egypt is put in a position of needing to respond to the humiliation of the Palestinians. El-Rashidy said that this started earlier with an incident on November 8, with children killed on a soccer field and that the responses escalated to the rocket attacks, and that this conflict also needs to be looked at in terms of Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election campaign.

Bob Rae:

On Power & Politics, Bob Rae said that he wants a reasoned debate on putting a price on carbon and a national energy strategy because there needs to be leadership on carbon pricing in order to send signals to the marketplace rather than waiting for the Americans, and that the provinces are ahead of federal government at this point. Rae said that a slogan like “Dutch disease” doesn’t help achieve policy direction, and that because Canada is a resource-rich country, it doesn’t help to attack resources industries instead of helping to make them more sustainable.

Rae was also on Power Play, where he added that Premier Redford has really launched the discussion, and that all premiers want to sit with the prime minister to talk about a national strategy on energy infrastructure, the infrastructure demands of cities, and to see that First Nations are consulted.

Worth Noting:

  • CBC’s Margo McDiarmid said the government is spending $4 million on its “Responsible Resource Development” ad campaign on top of its $5 million ad budget.
  • John Ivison said Thomas Mulcair’s message on west-to-east pipelines is basically reviving the National Energy Program, which will distort the market.
  • Former ambassador to China David Mulroney said that incoming Chinese president Xi Jinping will also be leading the Communist Party and the military, which is a stronger hand than his predecessor had. He also said that Xi is more internationally experienced than Hu Jintao was at this point in his career.
  • Keith Neuman of Environics said that Canadians feel overall fairly good about democracy, even if they don’t have trust in some institutions (most especially parliament and political parties), and that we’re lower than some other countries because we’re tougher on our politicians.
  • Craig Oliver said that other Liberal leadership candidates there to provide a “faux debate” with Trudeau during the campaign – even if Martha Hall Findlay is a credible candidate.
  • Jeffrey Simpson said that we can’t get good sex scandals in Canada, which is fuelling our fascination with the Petraeus affair.

Paul Martin, teen detective:

Martin interviewed Ottawa teen author Caroline Woodward about her new book Showdown at Border Town, which features a fictionalised twelve-year-old Paul Martin solving crimes. Woodward says that the idea came from the publishing house’s contest, but she delved into the research and was able to interview Martin’s sister as part of that process, and she wanted to foreshadow his future political life in the book.