Cyber-security, overspending and pipelines: Politics on TV, Oct. 17 edition

Message of the day: “Canada is taking the issue of cyber-security seriously.”

Message of the day

“Canada is taking the issue of cyber-security seriously.”

Questions not answered

  • Will the $155 million in new cyber-security measures be enough?
  • What will the Chief Electoral Officer rule in regards to Peter Penashue’s campaign overspending?


Power Play led off with Vic Toews, who was talking about his announcement of $155 million over five years to buffer government systems from outside attack. Toews said the hope is to continue strengthening the government’s cyber security against the attacks of all manner attacks from both hackers and state actors, in part by constantly updating technology and responding to attacks as they occur. Toews said that they are looking at best practices from other countries, and cites practice in the UK where police and the financial sector have information sharing agreements.

Don Martin then spoke to Defence Intelligence CEO Kevin Murphy, who said the money could do a lot, or it could do very little, depending on how they plan to use it. What it does do is send the right message to our trading partners that Canada is taking the issue of cyber-security seriously. When asked about whether Huawei is a threat, Murphy said that even thought they may not be at the present, the political climate in China means that they could become one if pressured by their government.

Power & Politics had an MP panel on the topic featuring Candace Bergen, Charmaine Borg, and Francis Scarpaleggia. Bergen said that this builds on the cyber-strategy initiated in 2010, to deal with the ongoing problem of cyber-attacks. Borg said she was looking forward to the AG’s report on cyber-criminality, and said the country needs both data-breach notification, and more digital literacy. Scarpaleggia noted that parliamentarians are not well briefed on these issues because there is no committee that can meet in camera to discuss threats.

Peter Penashue:

Power & Politics started off with a briefing by reporter Terry Milewski about the revelation that Intergovernmental Affairs minister Peter Penashue made a deal to pay only $7000 for air travel during the last election, when the total bill was actually $25,000. Add to that, the airline’s previous CEO was Penashue’s brother-in-law, and that even if Penashue only paid $7000, the total amount needs to count toward campaign expenses, lest it be an illegal corporate contribution.

Evan Solomon followed that up with MPs Jack Harris and Scott Andrews. No Conservative MP would appear, but pointed to a statement about “working with Elections Canada.” Harris said that it’s unfair to get $25,000 in free flights, and that it’s an additional insult to call the official agent an “inexperienced volunteer” when he later got a prime government appointment based on his business experience. Andrews said that with an election that close – Penashue won by 79 votes – money counts, and that the official agent can’t be thrown under the bus because the candidate’s signature is also required on the documents.

Northern Gateway pipeline:

Executive VP of Western Access at Enbridge, Janet Holder, was on Power & Politics, where she said this pipeline will be full of new technology with safety enhancements and lessons learned from the Kalamazoo rupture. Holder says that with 50 percent more remote shut-off valves, they could detect a leak within a minute and shut down the system within ten. When asked about the 804 spills between 1999 and 2010, she said that most are small and own their own property at pumping stations, and that they are aiming for zero spills with no “acceptable” level.

Holder was also on Power Play, where she said that rumours of the pipeline’s death are greatly exaggerated. Part of what the process needs is better communication with stakeholders, and reassurances that pipelines can coexist with the environment. She added that Conservatives have their own concerns about the project, and offered assurances that there will be enough insurance in place to protect their $6 billion asset.

Martin also spoke to Gillian McEachern from Environmental Defence, who said that oil pipelines always spill, and that tar sands bitumen is more dangerous than other kinds of oil. Because of the remote and pristine location the pipeline would be traversing, and the strength of the opposition, McEachern said the pipeline should not and will not go ahead.

Omnibus the Second:

Don Martin hosted an MP panel with Stella Ambler, Jinny Sims, and Sean Casey, about what to expect with the omnibus budget bill due later in the week. Ambler said there wouldn’t be too many surprises in the bill, but Sims said that MPs have been force to operate with few details when it comes to the cuts, and that they are being asked to vote in the dark. Casey noted that with the last bill, they didn’t see how bad the changes to EI were going to be until after it passed, calling it “a mug’s game.”

Future taxes:

Solomon spoke with Professor Herb Emery from the University of Calgary School of Public Policy, whose new report shows that the with the aging population, those born after 1988 will end up paying double the peak tax rate than the oldest baby boomers. Emery says that boomers aren’t paying enough to keep up with the healthcare that they expect, and that the problems could have been fixed if there had been enough political will to implement the healthcare reforms that were proposed more than a decade ago.