Divergent deficit targets: Politics on TV, Nov. 16 edition

Talking deficit targets, Gaza, and Maxime Bernier being fed his talking points

Message of the day

“Our biggest concern is civilian deaths.”

Hot Topics

  1. Flaherty vs. Harper’s deficit comments
  2. The situation in Gaza
  3. Jason Kenney on ethnic media
  4. Bernier gets his talking points

Questions not answered

  • What will John Baird be telling his counterparts in the UAE this weekend?

Jim Flaherty:

On Power & Politics, finance minister Jim Flaherty said that Harper’s pledge to eliminate the deficit before the next election, despite his own fiscal update saying that wasn’t likely to happen, was not in contradiction because his own projections were already close and it would still be possible to balance the books by 2015. Flaherty said that he doesn’t anticipate any more spending cuts, and that his projections took into account Europe heading back into recession and the Americans avoiding the “fiscal cliff.” In answer to the mayors demanding an additional $2.5 billion per year for infrastructure, Flaherty said that they have their share of the gas tax, which some municipalities haven’t leveraged yet.

P&P’s Power Panel gave their thoughts on the discrepancy, where Rob Russo said that Harper’s message is an indication that he is going to run again, because he wants to deliver on what he promised in the last election around income splitting, barring another global financial disaster. Kady O’Malley said that Harper could get away with the message that they are so close to achieving a balanced budget, so give them another mandate. Greg Weston said that Kevin Page was once again right in is projections, and if they are within a couple of billion of eliminating the deficit before the next election, it might magically disappear. Kelly Cryderman said the government’s messaging has been giving themselves wiggle room for the election.

Power Play’s journalists panel of Stephen Maher and Craig Oliver gave their thoughts, where Oliver considered the divergent message his “misplay of the week,” while Maher said that while they may be singing from the same song sheet, they are not in tune.


Hannah Thibedeau spoke to MPs Deepak Obhrai and Hélène Laverdière about the situation in Gaza. Not unsurprisingly, Obhrai said that Israel has a right to defend itself, but the government’s biggest concern is the civilian deaths on both sides of the border. Obhrai also said that John Baird is on his way to the United Arab Emirates tonight to engage his counterparts there. Laverdière said that de-escalation is the key, and that she was happy to hear that Baird is on his way to engage with interlocutors in the region. (Liberal MP Irwin Cotler had also been invited to speak but did not make it in time for the segment).

Power Play spoke to Palestinian representative to Canada Said Hamad, who said that he sympathises with Israeli civilians who reside in the south of Israel during the rocket attacks, but that they also need to point out that attacks in Gaza have killed 27 Palestinians, and that life in the region is becoming intolerable. Hamad said that with a government like Benjamin Netanyahu, anything is possible in terms of military action. Hamad said that the core issue is the continuing Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and the siege of Gaza has been under, and that President Abbas wants to negotiate with Israel, but they need a timetable.

Don Martin then spoke to Peter Jones, Middle East security expert from the University of Ottawa, who said that neither side wants an invasion of Gaza, and that there is a danger of escalation that nobody wants. Jones said that there is a scenario that both sides can walk away and claim victory, but right now there is blame enough to go around for both sides. Jones also noted that Canada is no longer in a position to play a brokerage role where we once might have.

Martin also spoke to digital public affairs analyst Mark Blevis about the use of Twitter and other social media in this conflict. Blevis said that this use of social media is giving both an inside view of the war room, as well as propaganda. Blevis walked Martin through some of the tweets given by both sides of the conflict, and said that realistically, both sides have violated the Terms of Service of Twitter, but that this scenario is so far down the path that it becomes hard for Twitter to shut it down.

Jason Kenney:

Martin spoke with immigration minister Jason Kenney from the federal-provincial-territorial meeting of immigration ministers. Kenney said that they have nearly achieved a “just-in-time” demand-driven immigration system, and that the backlog is now down to about 100,000 people after the move to dump the majority of the cases by legislation, and they should be entirely using the new system by spring. Kenney said that his department’s spending on ethnic media monitoring was spread out over three years, and that paying attention to those media outlets allows him to be more responsive to the concerns of those ethno-cultural communities.

Bernier’s talking points:

Power Play played a clip that showed Maxime Bernier being coached with his approved talking points on a supposed new NDP tax proposal, despite them being a not entirely factual. The incident took place just before Bernier’s interview on the show on Wednesday, and shows the aide on camera with a live microphone, and that Bernier didn’t object to the script.

Worth Noting:

  • Michael Chong said that never in the history of the Canadian Parliament has an opposition private members’ bill passed the House of Commons without a standing vote, which is one reason he wants the Senate to stop Bill C-290, noting also the endemic betting scandals in Europe.
  • Toronto Councillor Gord Perks said that he is disappointed by the convenience stores association’s impending lawsuit regarding a ban on plastic bags, considering that there is evidence that plastic is accumulating in the Great Lakes.
  • Kelly Cryderman said that even though Thomas Mulcair has been in Calgary to help campaign for the by-election, and despite polls showing that it’ll be a close race, it’s unlikely the NDP will find traction.
  • Greg Weston said that he has never heard a diplomat telling anyone to deliver proof of espionage or to shut up, as the Chinese Ambassador did, in the face of a decade of warnings from both Canadian and US intelligence agencies.
  • Stephen Maher said that Access to Information documents have turned up the email traffic with Elections Canada regarding robo-call “mischief” leading up to the last election.