Garneau's long-awaited liftoff: Politics on TV, Nov. 28 edition

Featuring interviews with the president-elect of Mexico and Liberal leadership candidate Marc Garneau

Message of the day

“Mexico is Canada’s third-largest trading partner.”

Hot Topics

  1. The president-elect of Mexico comes to town
  2. Marc Garneau’s leadership bid
  3. The Palestinian vote at the UN
  4. Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR)

Questions not answered

  • When will the government lift the visa restrictions on Mexicans?

Mexico’s incoming president:

Power & Politics had an exclusive interview with Enrique Peña Nieto, the president-elect of Mexico, conducted in Spanish (with halting English translation). Peña Nieto said that it was a different situation from when his party previously ruled for over 70 years, as the country has gone through changes, with new political institutions now in place. He said that he doesn’t support legalizing marijuana, and wants to tackle the drug war with economic opportunities and job creation. Regarding the visa requirements, Peña Nieto said that he spoke about it with Harper and understands the reasons behind the move, and hopes that with the new changes to refugee laws in Canada, they will be able to do away with the requirement in the future.

On Power Play, University of Ottawa’s Carlo Dade said that Peña Nieto is starting the relationship before he gets into office because has a single six-year term. While his party, the PRI, was once described as the “perfect dictatorship,” the slogan has been “We’ve changed,” and Dade said that it’s also a reflection of how much the country has changed. Dade said that while Peña Nieto says he wants outside investments, he has also told his own people that he won’t privatize their state-owned oil company, and may take the stance of disallowing Canadian takeovers because our telecomm and banking markets are closed.

Marc Garneau:

Power Play had Liberal leadership candidate and former astronaut Marc Garneau on to talk about his bid to lead the party. Garneau said that the ballot question next April will be who is the best person to take on Harper and Mulcair, and he said his top priority will be the economy. Garneau pointed to his track record of accomplishments, as a captain in the navy, astronaut, and the head of the Canadian Space Agency with a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, and said that he will be hammering on how the government neglected the knowledge-based economy.

Garneau was also on Power & Politics, where he added that he understands the West and Alberta, and that he was on the board of a mid-sized energy company, but knows the Liberals have a lot of work to do and have to admit they made mistakes in the past. Garneau said that he supports the CNOOC deal with provisos about concessions for market access, he supports a safe pipeline to the west coast provided Aboriginal concerns are addressed, that he wants to keep OAS at 65, and that there needs to be a price on carbon. Garneau added that people support Liberal values, but the problem has been Liberal performance.

When P&P’s Power Panel gave their thoughts, Jennifer Ditchburn said that his different background brings things to the race that we’re not hearing from other candidates. Ian Capstick said that he’s a fantastic candidate on paper, but wondered why the excitement level is so low. Stockwell Day said that Garneau is a great guy but he won’t win, and that he’s running for influence in the party. Rob Silver said that the challenge is that it’s a big country and Trudeau is working hard on the ground, while Garneau knows that he can’t rest on his résumé.

On Power Play’s journalist panel with Tim Harper and Robert Fife, Harper said that Garneau is more of a safety net for the party in case Trudeau flames out, but he needs to grow into retail politics. Fife said that like Harper, Garneau has more substance than excitement, but the race remains Trudeau’s to lose.

Palestinian UN bid:

Power & Politics heard from an MP panel of Deepak Obhrai, Paul Dewar and Dominic LeBlanc about the upcoming vote at the UN on giving the Palestinian Authority non-state observer status. Obhrai said that they believe that peace can only be achieved by sitting down and negotiating, not through these kinds of shortcuts. Dewar said that the government is threatening the Palestinian Authority, and that the NDP position is about engagement (but wouldn’t give a yes or no if they supported the vote). LeBlanc said that the Liberals don’t find the vote helpful, and have said so to the Palestinians in their own meetings with them.

On P&P’s Power Panel, Silver said the government was taking the right position but it doesn’t move the ball forward. Day agreed it was the right position but negotiations depended on the Palestinians recognising Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Ditchburn noted that the Liberals and Conservatives hold the same position, but one was using a hammer, the other a quill, while Capstick said that Canada should be neutral.


In advance of the vote on Bill C-398, which would have reformed the current Access to Medicines Regime to make it easier for generic drug manufacturers to sell medications to developing countries, Evan Solomon spoke to an MP panel of Mike Lake, Hélène Laverdière – the bill’s sponsor – and Frank Valeriote about it. Lake said that the current mechanisms in place to deliver needed drugs, such as the Global Fund were sufficient. Laverdière said the bill was something that Parliament could do that wouldn’t cost us money and would supply life-saving medicines to developing countries, and that it is WTO compliant. Valeriote noted that the Liberals were supportive, but in the vote several minutes later, the bill was defeated 148 to 141, with only seven Conservatives voting in favour.

After the vote, Solomon spoke with David Morley of UNICEF Canada, who was disappointed that it didn’t pass, but noted that parliamentarians of all parties did vote in favour of it, and that he hopes to build on that in the future. Morley said that going forward, he wants to work with MPs to look at ways of reforming the existing regulations so that they can get greater competition between drug companies for these kinds of medicines in order to bring the costs down.

Worth Noting:

  • CTV’s Martin Seemungal said that the protests against the Egyptian president seizing new powers have been growing, and there are signs that Mohamed Morsi may be backing down.
  • Dr. Samantha Nutt from War Child Canada said that Morsi took those new powers after he felt emboldened by his success with the Gaza negotiations, but has learned the hard way that he couldn’t get away with it. She has also heard that Morsi is trying to expedite the constitutional process in order to take it to a vote in December.
  • The Vancouver Sun’s Jonathan Fowlie said that the BC deficit has gone up from $1 billion to $1.5 billion, and the government is engaging in damage control on falling revenues in advance of a spring election.
  • Tim Harper said that Olivia Chow certainly seems interested in the job of mayor of Toronto, and that she has been polling well – especially against a Ford in the race.
  • Megan Leslie said that Canada will keep getting Fossil Awards at the Doha climate conference until we start taking some kind of action. Rodger Cuzner said that the scrapped Liberal Green plan would have reached 80 per cent of the country’s Kyoto targets.

Commons Folk: Patrick Brown

Don Martin’s Commons Folk feature profiled Conservative MP Patrick Brown (or “Mr. Brown – Barrie” as he is known during standing votes). Brown has run seven marathons and was about to run the New York marathon this year until it was cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy. Brown once took part in an “As Prime Minister” essay contest when he was a city councillor at 22, and he spoke about the need for infrastructure funding, and he currently chairs the Canada-India Parliamentary Association. Brown says that the thing most people don’t know about him is that he has a Red Bull for breakfast every morning.

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