Ceasefires and regional divisions: Politics on TV, Nov. 21 edition

Talking about the ceasefire in Gaza, David McGuinty's comments, and the bill on First Nations financing

Message of the day

“David McGuinty’s comments don’t reflect the position of the Liberal party.”

Hot Topics

  1. The ceasefire in Gaza
  2. David McGuinty’s comments about Alberta MPs
  3. Financial accountability for First Nations

Questions not answered

  • Will McGuinty’s comments have an effect on the Calgary Centre by-election?

Gaza ceasefire:

Power & Politics first got a report from the CBC’s Nahlah Ayed about the situation in Israel and Gaza and the coming ceasefire there, before speaking to foreign affairs minister John Baird. Baird said that he was cautiously optimistic about the ceasefire, and that he appreciates the constructive role that Egypt played in brokering the deal. Baird said that Hamas and Islamic Jihad need to stop the rocket attacks, and that the Criminal Code prevents the Canadian government from dealing with terrorist organizations like Hamas.

On Power Play, Baird added that while they had some initial scepticism about the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, they are pleased with the role they’ve played. Baird said that at the meeting in the United Arab Emirates that he attended over the weekend, no one from Hamas or Islamic Jihad there. Baird said that they want to see a prosperous, peaceful, thriving Palestinian territories living side by side with Israel.

Israeli Ambassador to Canada Miriam Ziv told Power & Politics that the ceasefire will hold so long as Hamas stops firing rockets into Israel. Ziv said that when Hamas is serious in maintaining the ceasefire, Israel will be able to facilitate opening border crossings into the territory, but if rocket fire starts again, Israel will have to react.

Evan Solomon spoke with Hamas spokesperson Mohammed Awad by phone, who said that the ceasefire is dependent on Israel stopping the aggression against his people, and ending the naval blockade completely. Awad said that Hamas and the Palestinians are victims because of the occupation, and that their people can’t cross borders or get humanitarian aid. When pressed by Solomon, Awad wouldn’t give any justification for Hamas’ calls for the destruction of Israel in their Charter, or a reaction to being listed as a terrorist organization.

David McGuinty vs. Alberta MPs:

Liberal interim leader Bob Rae was on Power & Politics to give reaction to David McGuinty’s statement that if national legislators were going to act in a provincial manner, then they should go back to Alberta and run for the legislature there. Rae said that while McGuinty was expressing frustration about having efforts to develop a national energy strategy being voted down in committee, it wasn’t an excuse or a justification for what he did say, which doesn’t reflect the views of the party. Rae then gave a plug for their Calgary Centre by-election candidate, Harvey Locke, and said that Alberta wants to be at the head table in reforming the Liberal party and getting a national energy strategy, and said that he will be heading back out to Calgary, and that Paul Martin visiting on Friday.

Solomon spoke with MP Michelle Rempel, who said that Rae’s apology was a good start, but McGuinty’s comments demonstrate a systemic long-term bias against the west by the Liberals. She also noted that Justin Trudeau didn’t immediately disavow the comments unequivocally, and that McGuinty wasn’t in the House to apologise.

On Power Play, the MP panel of Geoff Regan, Michelle Rempel, and Linda Duncan also gave their thoughts. Regan noted the apologies and that McGuinty stepped down as critic, but also noted that Atlantic Canadians were offended by Harper’s “culture of defeat” comments a few years ago. Rempel added to her previous comments to say that opposition policy boils down to western alienation. Duncan said it was a case of the pot calling the kettle black because Conservatives use divisive politics and McGuinty fell into the same trap, whereas the NDP is trying to get more views.

P&P’s Power Panel weighed in on the comments, where Jennifer Ditchburn wondered if those comments help the Greens by driving down the Liberal vote. Stockwell Day said that he has his share of lines in the scrapbook of politicians who wish they hadn’t said some things, but that Joan Crockatt knows Alberta and Calgary Centre. Rob Silver said that McGuinty shouldn’t have made the comments, but did the right thing in stepping aside, and that Rae was right in holding him to account – which he doesn’t see that happening in cabinet. Silver added that this is only a story because the Calgary by-election is close. Ian Capstick said that if people in Ottawa think that voters in Calgary Centre care about what an irrelevant critic in an irrelevant party says, we’re kidding ourselves – but that McGuinty’s comments were right.

First Nations finances:

Power Play spoke with Aboriginal affairs minister John Duncan about the bill on First Nations financial accountability. Duncan said because the Liberals and NDP have been filibustering the bill in the Commons, they have needed to invoke closure to get it passed. Duncan said that they are looking for the same level of transparency from First Nations governments that exist federally, provincially and municipally, and that his office gets hundreds of requests per year from band members about the financials in their own communities. Duncan noted that the bill doesn’t set the salaries of chiefs, just asks that they be made public, as well as their expenses.

Worth Noting:

  • CTV reporter Cristina Howorun said that London, ON, mayor Joe Fontana has been charged with three counts of fraud for misusing government funds when he was the Minister of Labour back in 2005 under the Liberal government.
  • Charlie Angus and Scott Andrews didn’t find think that Senator Brazeau claiming a housing allowance passed the smell test (not that MPs should really be commenting on Senators to begin with).
  • Linda Duncan said that it’s appalling that Kevin Page needs to take the government to court in order to get the information that MPs need to properly scrutinize spending.
  • Robert Fife said that it will be a test if the Senate will deal with the question of Brazeau’s housing allowance seriously.