Politics on TV, Oct. 10: Espionage, tainted beef, clawbacks

Message of the day:

“The Cold War has never actually left us.”

Questions not answered:

  • Will the government call the Russian ambassador to account for the Delisle case?


Power & Politics spoke to Ray Boisvert, a former assistant director of intelligence at CSIS, after Jeffrey Delisle pleaded guilty to selling intelligence to the Russians. Boisvert said although the damage is significant because it involved a trusted individual within National Defence, it would overstate things to say our relationship with allies has been “put back to the Stone Age.” He said that by not going to trial, Canada is saved from further embarrassment.

Evan Solomon then spoke to MPs Jack Harris and John McKay. Harris said Russia must atone if it wants a good relationship with Canada. He said both the Minister of Defence and Prime Minister must be held to account. McKay said the military is ultimately responsible because it didn’t notice the payments to Delisle, or his trip to Brazil to meet with his handler. He said John Baird should call in the Russian ambassador while Peter MacKay should haul in military brass for questioning.

Solomon noted that the Russian ambassador declined to appear on the program.

Christian Leuprecht of Queen’s University told Power Play that such vulnerabilities highlight the importance of security checks, and that there is a lot to be gleaned from the breach.

Tainted meat:

Evan Solomon and the Power Panel spoke to Doug O’Halloran, president of the UFCW Local 401, about the XL Plant. O’Halloran said CFIA inspectors need more authority to act quickly when incidents occur. O’Halloran said he thinks Gerry Ritz will only be able to understand the scope of the situation when he sees the plant in operation with 300-plus cows going down the line every hour.

Veterans’ clawbacks:

Don Martin spoke to Stephen Blaney about the announcement about ending clawbacks from disability pensions for certain classes of veterans. Blaney said the announcement goes above and beyond the court decision on the clawbacks, and that they wanted to harmonize their veterans programs across the board with the $177 million announcement. Blaney said he will table legislation to harmonize those programs along with a third – the Veterans’ War Allowance. Martin then spoke to veterans advocate Sean Bruyea, who said it was a good announcement for the limited number of veterans that it affects, but there are 19 categories of veterans who have their own issues.

On Power & Politics, Blaney said any decision about harmonizing the same rules for RCMP veterans was a question for Vic Toews. He was non-committal on the question of ending the same clawbacks on CPP deductions. Solomon then spoke to MPs Peter Stoffer and Sean Casey. Stoffer said the NDP were pleased with the announcement, but that the government needs to include RCMP and those receiving CPP. Stoffer added he wants to see the legislation before he will offer support. Casey agreed with Stoffer’s assessment, and said anything that standardizes the way veterans are treated is a welcome change, as there is a legal and moral obligation to treat RCMP veterans the same way.

Bruyea was also on Power & Politics, where he called the announcement a Band-Aid approach. He noted that most veterans programs are difficult to access, even when they do exist.

Syria and Turkey:

Power & Politics spoke to Tony Badran of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies and to Fen Hampson from Carleton University. Hampson noted that Turkey may be looking for NATO assistance, and that Iran is working with Syria to instigate a Kurdish rebellion in Turkey’s eastern provinces. Badran said there is very little appetite in NATO to escalate the situation though it is bound by treaty obligations to protect Turkey’s sovereignty.

Children’s Rights:

Kathy Vandergrift from the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children spoke to Martin about UN concerns about the omnibus crime bill. As she explained, because the young offender provisions are more punitive than rehabilitative, they contravene the Convention.

Harper’s trip to Africa:

With Prime Minister Harper on his way to the Francophonie summit in Senegal and the Congo, Don Martin spoke to Canadian Council on Africa president Lucien Bradet. Bradet said for the first time, there is more investment in Africa than aid. He hinted that Ed Fast will soon make a policy announcement on trade with African countries.