On the U.S. election: Politics on TV, Sunday edition

Talking about Ashley Smith, the 25th anniversary of the formation of the Reform Party, and of course, the US election

Message of the day

“Corrections Canada’s procedural lessons are being ignored.”

Questions not answered

  • Is the debate on fetal rights expanding?

Ashley Smith case:

Question Period spoke with Correctional Investigator Howard Sapers about the Ashley Smith video and the federal government’s decision to stop obstructing the investigation. Sapers said he first viewed these videos during Smith’s incarceration, and that there is plenty of footage of her being treated with compassion as well as a lot of incidents that show uses of force that goes against the law, depending on where she was. Sapers said that subsequent to his investigation into her death, quarterly reports were implemented and that he has seen similar behaviours in nine other deaths. While it was his recommendation to stop keeping mentally ill patients in prolonged segregation, that practice continues, and if the Correctional Service’s new strategy on dealing with mentally ill inmates isn’t implemented, there should be a broader inquiry.

Ambassador Gary Doer:

The West Block spoke to Canadian Ambassador to the US, Gary Doer, about Tuesday’s state-wide vote in Michigan on building a new cross-border bridge, while the Maroon family, who owns the current bridge, spent $40 million campaigning against it. Doer typified it as a kind of unusual “David and Goliath” scenario because of the kind of money that the Maroons have poured into it, and because the question is not straightforward, but rather is a convoluted and retroactive that requires a no vote for the bridge to go ahead. Doer noted that the Michigan governor has been campaigning in support of the bridge. With regards to the Keystone XL pipeline, Doer said that only Nebraska is left to approve the amended route.

Doer was also on Question Period, where he added that it was in the public interest as well as Canada’s interest to get a decision on the “fiscal cliff” to avoid a decline in the country’s GDP. Doer said that there would likely be economic growth in the medium term with more shale gas coming online, but that would also have an impact on supply and price. Doer said that enhanced intellectual property protection would mean more work remaining in the US, which would be better for the supply chains in Canada.

Preston Manning:

Kevin Newman spoke to Preston Manning on the 25th anniversary of the birth of the Reform Party. Manning said that the issues they were crusading on like balanced budgets are now political wisdom, and that the political centre has shifted further westward. Manning said that there are legitimate differences between BC and Alberta with their pipeline dispute, but that they should be trying to resolve them as they were able to with their de facto free trade agreement, and that in the end, we will likely see oil headed in three direction – west, east and south. Manning said that the current debate around fetal rights is part of an emerging framework on “beginning of life” issues that goes beyond pro-life and pro-choice, but that future conflict will revolve around the conflict of rights between the woman and the fetus.

Harper’s trip to India:

CTV QP’s The Scrum was asked about Prime Minister Harper’s trip to India, and John Ivison said that we don’t yet have an investment protection agreement with India, and that trade talks seem to be stalled because of the paralysis in India’s domestic politics. Gloria Galloway said that India is the big market next to China, and that the government is looking to get an agreement done right. Tonda MacCharles noted that Harper flagged in an interview last week that he sees trade with India to be a necessity because they are an English-speaking democracy in the Commonwealth. Craig Oliver said that our ability to supply India’s energy needs is part of what Harper is driving at.

The U.S. presidential election:

Tom Clark spoke with strategic advisor for Canada-US relations Paul Frazer and Global News Washington bureau chief Eric Sorensen about Tuesday’s election. Frazer noted that a president winning the electoral vote instead of the popular vote could push parties into further gridlock, and that given how much difficulty the Republican Speaker has had with controlling his own caucus, a Romney loss could mean chaos in the party. Frazer also said that even if the parties can compromise to get past the “fiscal cliff,” it wouldn’t solve their problems, which will then impact the Canadian economy. Sorensen said that because the parties have been fighting around the margins for the past couple of years, the key will be to see who can get out their vote in swing states. He added that if Obama can’t win the popular vote but still wins the Electoral College vote, it would become part of the Republican strategy of trying to de-legitimize him.

Newman spoke with Republican strategist John Feehery, and Democratic strategist Stefan Hankin about the final days of the campaign. Feehery said that Romney has an edge with independent voters that he needs to keep up, and that the billion-dollar ad buys are coming to a draw as the two campaigns are matching the same number of ads in the same areas, and that people are getting sick of them. He said that parties need to spend enough to counter the other side, but then need to get their vote out. Hankin said that Obama needs to keep up the momentum of advance voting, and that the money spent on ad buys passed the diminishing rate of returns a long time ago. Hankin likened it to a nuclear arms race – spending enough to blow up the world numerous times, when once would suffice.

CTV QP’s The Scrum gave their predictions – Oliver predicted Obama because of his gains in swing states, while Newman himself predicted Romney because he doesn’t think that Obama will be able to mobilize the youth and non-white voters that got him into office. Galloway didn’t think Newman’s supposition was bearing out in advance voting and predicted Obama. MacCharles also predicted Obama, but wasn’t sure that he would get the popular vote. Ivison also predicted Obama, not because of the voter intention polls, but because of a Gallup poll that said that people feel better about themselves, which tends to favour status quo.