Robocalls and energy exports: Politics on TV, Nov. 19 edition

Talking to Alison Redford, Jim Prentice and Peter MacKay about the issues of the day

Message of the day

“Canada needs a second customer for its energy exports.”

Hot Topics

  1. New robocall revelations
  2. Discussing a national energy strategy
  3. The situation in Gaza

Questions not answered

  • Seeing as once again, MacKay didn’t answer, are any other replacement options for the CF-18s being considered?


Power & Politics started off with a report from Terry Milewski giving a summary of the PostMedia story on the internal Elections Canada emails that show they were concerned about illicit robocalling during the final days of the last election. Solomon then spoke to an MP panel of Shelly Glover, Charlie Angus and Scott Andrews. Glover said that voter suppression is despicable, and insisted that her riding was targeted by anti-Conservative voter suppression that she reported but wasn’t being brought up now. Angus said he wasn’t surprised that the Conservatives were playing the victim card, but the pattern of phone calls were traced back to Conservative headquarters. Andrews said these revelations broaden the need for an inquiry but the Conservatives aren’t willing to cooperate – before Glover and Angus got into a slap-and-hairpull fight (well, not literally anyway).

When P&P’s Power Panel weighed in, Chris Hall noted that the emails pointed to calls in six provinces, which means this is more than one rogue operation. Anne McGrath noted that Elections Canada is undertaking broader public consultations. Tom Flanagan said that the reports are mixing up robocalling and live-calling, which are different things, and that while the live-calling could have been ordered from the top, other calls could come from anywhere. Rob Silver said that an important aspect is intent and strategy, and that it gets worse for Conservatives the closer it gets to the next election.

On Power Play’s journalists panel, Susan Delacourt said that we can’t ignore that there are 1400 investigations in 200 ridings across the country, and that there needs to be new laws on calling, advertising, and the permanent election campaign. John Ibbitson said that Harper’s statement in the House that the central party office had nothing to do with these calls puts him in the greatest jeopardy if they are implicated.

National Energy Strategy:

Power Play spoke with Alberta premier Alison Redford, who said that it’s important to build an energy strategy because it benefits the entire country – more than just production from Alberta, but also refining jobs in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Redford noted that the IEA report talks about North American self-sufficiency in 20-25 years, which means an integrated north-south energy market, and that Canada has the ability to export more refined products, which is necessary for more market diversity. With regards to US Senator John McCain’s calls for public hearings on the Nexen deal, Redford noted that such hearings don’t happen in his own jurisdiction.

Martin immediately followed this with an interview with former cabinet minister and senior vice-president at CIBC Jim Prentice. Prentice said that Canada needs to stay focused on finding a second customer for our energy exports than just the US, and that in building a strategic partnership with China, it would be unwise to turn around in the middle of the road – referring to a rejection of the Nexen deal. Prentice said that there needs to be special rules with regards to state-owned enterprises to ensure that they play by Canadian rules with regards to transparency, governance, and audit committees.

Prentice was also on Power & Politics, where he added that there is an immediacy to our need to diversify our energy market given the forecasts of American energy self-sufficiency, and that failure is not an option when it comes to getting west coast access. When asked about American climate change discussions, Prentice said that Canada doesn’t need a carbon tax, especially with our need for market access in the Asia Pacific.

Gaza situation:

Power Play first checked in with CTV’s Janis Mackey Frayer about the Gaza situation, where she said that there is the possibility of a ceasefire being negotiated by Egypt, before Don Martin spoke to defence minister Peter MacKay. MacKay reiterated that Canada is a steadfast ally of Israel, who has a right to exist and defend itself. On Syria, MacKay said Russian needs to play a bigger role in diplomacy. McKay dodged another question on CF-18 replacement fighters with a procurement secretariat/seven-point-plan talking point.

Power Play’s strategists panel of Goldy Hyer, Jean Lapierre, and Robin Sears gave their take, where Hyer said that Canada has a role in calling for a ceasefire and in reminding the world of Israel’s right to defence. Sears said that this government has staked a different ground from previous governments, and wondered what shift means in terms of our influence in the region. Lapierre said that there is a need to test that influence – Canada used to be trusted by both sides, but is now one-sided in its support for Israel.

Power & Politics had an MP panel of Deepak Obhrai, Paul Dewar and John McKay to discuss the situation, where Dewar said the focus needs to be on de-escalation, followed by work on a cease-fire and then peace. McKay said that the government has so over-identified with Israel in the region that our diplomatic assets have degraded to the point of being useless. Obhrai said that they have contacts with the legitimate Palestinian Authority, but Hamas is a listed terrorist organisation, which is why Canada won’t deal with them.

Worth Noting:

  • Leona Aglukkaq said that she won’t interfere in the approval process regarding a generic version of OxyContin, saying it’s a “recipe for disaster” when politicians make those calls instead of scientists. She said that she is strengthening the levers to monitor use of this drug.
  • Tom Flanagan said that the Conservatives are running a classic by-election strategy in Calgary Centre of door-knocking, phones and getting out the vote while avoiding media, and that the only way to beat it is insurgent campaign and bringing in new voters. He said that this is happening with Liberals and Greens, but they could cancel out each other’s votes.
  • Jean Lapierre said he doesn’t think that Michael Applebaum will be able to make any difference with the corruption in Montreal politics.
  • Former US ambassador to Canada David Wilkins said that there is no appetite in the States for the “fiscal cliff” to go unresolved.
  • John Ibbitson said that the federal government’s abandonment of the OxyContin file is ideologically consistent in that they treat healthcare solely as a provincial responsibility.