Trudeau vs. Alberta: Politics on TV

Nov. 22: Talking with premiers Redford and Ghiz, and piling on about Justin Trudeau's two year-old comments

Message of the day

“Trudeau’s comments are indicative of Liberal feelings toward the west.”

Hot Topics

  1. The upcoming First Ministers’ Meeting in Halifax
  2. Justin Trudeau’s Alberta comments
  3. Negotiating free trade with the European Union

Questions not answered

  • What issues remain to be negotiated with the EU trade agreement?

First Ministers’ Meeting:

Power & Politics spoke with Alberta premier Alison Redford, who didn’t bemoan Harper’s absence from the First Ministers’ Meeting in Halifax, but rather said that it gives premiers an opportunity to focus on what they can do in their jurisdictions. Redford said that this was an evolved dynamic rather than the one where premiers would go up to the PM, cap-in-hand, looking for them to coordinate spending programs. Redford said that the most challenging problem facing provinces is ensuring that they don’t fall into an infrastructure deficit.

On Power Play, PEI premier Robert Ghiz said that the premiers would be hearing from an American economist as well as Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney in order to get a better economic picture. Ghiz said that while it would be beneficial to have Harper at the meeting, they can still come up with a game plan to grow the economy, and send it to the prime minister so that they can work on it together. Ghiz said that when you have 13 leaders, each with their own concerns, there will always be issues that they can’t agree on, but they do tend to agree on more than they disagree on.

On P&P’s Power Panel, Gerry Caplan said that Redford gave a fantasy vision, and that with a number of provinces in turmoil, he wondered which group of provinces were agreeing on anything. Tom Flanagan said that there are critical issues, but the record of the meeting of these kinds of meetings isn’t very good. John Ivison said that Harper saw that Paul Martin looked like the headwaiter to the provinces, and didn’t want to follow that.

Justin Trudeau vs. Alberta:

On Power Play, Jason Kenney denounced the statement that Trudeau made in 2010 about Albertans controlling the socio-democratic agenda. Kenney said that some people in Alberta will shrug and say this is what Liberals always think of them, while others will be reminded of how his father felt about the west. Kenney said that it irks him that Trudeau is going around saying he’s a “uniter.”

On Power & Politics, Michelle Rempel called the comments laughable, and noted that Trudeau didn’t disavow the comments, nor those of David McGuinty. Rempel said that western alienation is still alive and well within the Liberal Party, and pointed to the long-gun registry, Canadian Wheat Board, National Energy Program.

Power Play spoke with Trudeau’s campaign advisor, Gerald Butts, who said that the context of the comments were from a question about why Quebeckers felt alienated in the country. Butts pointed out that Trudeau’s first stop was in Calgary and that his message has consistently been that Western Canada needs to be at the head of the table for rebuilding the Liberal Party. Butts said that the Conservatives are very afraid they are losing a riding to a Liberal in a by-election, because they have taken their base for granted.

On Power & Politics, Butts added that he didn’t think that digging these quotes up was unfair, but rather that the campaign is expecting the Conservatives to dig up everything and twist Trudeau’s words out of context.

During Power Play’s MP panel of Jinny Sims, Elizabeth May and Stella Ambler, Sims said this was a case of “Another day, another Liberal with a foot in his mouth,” and that there needs to be more politics that bring Canadians together. May said that she expects a great many more quotes to be unearthed in the months to come, but did find this particular statement absurd. Not surprising, Ambler found the comments appalling, and that politicians should respect Canadians no matter where they’re from.

When P&P’s Power Panel weighed in, Ivison said that the comments reeked of Liberal arrogance, and that context was neither here nor there. Flanagan said that it was a Liberal trifecta between McGuinty, Trudeau and Joe Fontana in the news, and that despite Butts’ statement, “some things can’t be polished.” Caplan considered it all to be a gift to the Conservatives, but said that he wants Joan Crockatt to lose on Monday.

On Power Play’s journalists panel with Jeffrey Simpson and Craig Oliver, Simpson said that Trudeau probably shouldn’t have said it, but it was three lines in a half hour interview and at the end of the day, it’s not a big deal. Oliver said that it was fair to point out that a lot of successful prime ministers came from Quebec, and while it was foolish and the timing was bad, it also needed to be seen in the context that Trudeau made these remarks as part of his bid to hold his seat from Bloc challengers.

Free trade with the EU:

Power & Politics hosted an MP panel of Gerald Keddy, Don Davies, and Wayne Easter, about the ongoing negotiations for the CETA with the European Union. Keddy noted that there have been nine rounds of negotiations and that a substantial number of items agreed upon, but negotiations were ongoing at all levels, and that the provinces are at the table. Davies noted other tribunals where the provinces have lost, and worried that agreements like these are putting taxpayers at risk or hamstringing Canadian governments. Easter said that there are fears Canada is losing some sovereign rights under NAFTA because of tribunal decisions, and wondered if the CETA could be worse.

Solomon then spoke with Russell Williams, President of Rx&D Canada, who said that the Europeans already have an intellectual property regime and aren’t facing soaring drug prices, and that intellectual property is only one part of pricing drugs. Williams said that Canada has been trying to deal with expensive generics for 20 years, but it’s the provinces that negotiate the prices of medication. Williams said that these changes will bring in new investments.

Williams was followed by an interview with Michael McBane from the National Health Coalition, who said that drug companies are not innovating, that the research has been shipped offshore, that manufacturing is done elsewhere, and that any money would simply be going towards profits. McBane said that people aren’t doing any cost-benefit analysis on pharmaceuticals, and that patent protection should be separate from trade agreements.

Worth Noting:

  • CBC’s Amanda Margison reported that London, Ontario, mayor Joe Fontana won’t step down, despite the fraud charges against him, and the he insists that he is innocent of the charges.
  • Jim Flaherty says that there will be no tax increases or spending increases in 2013. He also declared himself a CFL fan, and that he’s cheering for the Toronto Argonauts to win the Grey Cup.
  • Mohamed El Rashidy from the Canadian Arab Federation said that the situation in Gaza hasn’t changed because they remain under blockade, and that Hamas has their own internal problems, while Netanyahu’s problem is that he can’t confront the Jewish settlers in the Palestinian territories.
  • Jeffrey Simpson said that Canada doesn’t have a Middle East policy, but rather has an Israel policy, and that the excuse that our support for Israel was because they were the only democracy in the region no longer holds because of Egypt.
  • Stella Ambler said that while Dany Morin’s heart was in the right place, his anti-bullying motion was defeated because there were already two studies ongoing, and that governments should focus on concrete actions rather than just another national strategy on paper.