THE WEST BLOCK
Episode 15, Season 5
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Host: Tom Clark
Guests: Stéphane Dion, Catherine McKenna, Bruce Heyman
Voice-over: On this Sunday, for the first time, Canadian soldiers engage in a major battle in Iraq. Where does that leave our promise to leave the combat mission? We’ll ask Global Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion.
And then, the world now has a climate goal, how will it change Canada and our economy? Environment Minister Catherine McKenna paints the picture.
And then later, will a new prime minister mean a new chapter in the relationship with our neighbours south of the border? U.S. Ambassador Bruce Heyman is here to talk about that.
And MPs like you’ve never seen them before: On Trudeau! on Ambrose! on May and Mulcair! Poetic politicians perform.
It is Sunday, December the 20th, and from the nation’s capital, I’m Tom Clark. And you are in The West Block.
Tom Clark: Well, it was the largest attack so far by ISIS in Northern Iraq and Canadians were fully engaged in the fight both on the ground and in the air. The government has promised to end our combat mission within weeks, but is that plan about to change now?
And joining me now is Canada’s Minister of Global Affairs Stéphane Dion.
Stéphane Dion: Tom, minister of foreign affairs.
Tom Clark: Foreign affairs.
Stéphane Dion: Global affairs is the name of the department because you have three ministers: trade, foreign affairs and international trade.
Tom Clark: Terrific, we’ve learned something so far. [Chuckles] Listen, we were talking about the engagement of Canadian troops in Iraq a few days ago and I’m wondering how you feel about that because obviously you’ve inherited the situation, but nevertheless under your watch, we have been in full combat engagement in Iraq. How do you feel about that?
Stéphane Dion: I feel proud. I think our men and women in uniform are very courageous, very professional, doing a great job. What we want to do is to come with a plan that will add to what our allies are doing in an optimal way. And I think when Canadians will see the plan and our allies will see the plan, we’ll be proud again of what our troops will do and the civilians involved as well.
Tom Clark: I guess what I meant by that was when you were in Opposition you were very critical of the Harper government for putting our troops in the position where they would be in combat, and you were saying that was wrong. Well now our troops are in combat, so was it—?
Stéphane Dion: They are not in combat, but what the general said is that there are situations where you have no other choice. But their mission is not to be in combat. It is to, for now, have the airstrikes and to help the national troops to be prepared to fight.
Tom Clark: This brings up an interesting question though because if we’re trying to minimize our risks, and that is pulling our airplanes out of the sky over Iraq, it certainly seems now that the really pointy end of the mission, the risky part of the mission, is in the training because they’re actually in the line of fire.
Stéphane Dion: The goal that we have is to be sure that the Canadian effort in the coalition will compliment what our allies are doing and will be very effective to fight these terrorist groups. This is the goal. It’s why the minister of defence, the prime minister, myself, Minister Goodale, we will not come in writing in a corner of a table of … in the back of a napkin, a plan. We are doing it with our allies.
Tom Clark: But you said a couple of weeks ago that we will end the air mission within weeks.
Stéphane Dion: We’ll make a decision within weeks, that’s what I have said. And this decision will re-orient our action in a way that I think everybody will say, ‘that’s the way to go.’
Tom Clark: A further question about Syria: Do you believe, as does Barack Obama, that Assad has to go before there can be any solution?
Stéphane Dion: We want Assad to go, but there is a sense among our allies, more and more, that the priority is to get rid of the so-called Islamic State. But of course, at the end of the day, President Assad has been bloody with his own people and he cannot stay.
Tom Clark: But you’re saying he doesn’t have to go immediately?
Stéphane Dion: The priority is to get rid of the so-called Islamic State. It’s the orientation that the collation is taking more and more.
Tom Clark: Let me stay in that part of the world for a moment. I want to talk to you about Saudi Arabia. You met last week with the Saudi foreign minister. You said that you brought up the case of Raif Badawi who is the blogger who’s been flogged by the Saudis. Again, when you were in Opposition, you were demanding that the prime minister personally get involved. Now, your Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, says he’s not going to get involved. What changed?
Stéphane Dion: At that time, the king just changed. A new king was happening, so a phone call of courtesy may have been an opportunity to raise the case. Now, I am the minister of foreign affairs. My priority—it’s my only priority on this issue, is not to look good and to speak harder than another politician. It is to help Mr. Badawi to be a free man as soon as possible.
Tom Clark: But you would agree with me that Saudi Arabia has probably got the worst record of human rights abuses anywhere on the planet, right?
Stéphane Dion: What I will say is I want Mr. Badawi to be free, and I will do everything for that.
Tom Clark: You’ve reinforced though the trade deal that we had with them, the over 14 years, $50 billion dollars that’s involved, and yet here’s a country that beheads people and crucifies people that directly or indirectly supports the Islamic State, and other groups that are trying to kill us. Did you call the Saudis on this and say, ‘just stop doing that?’
Stéphane Dion: I had a very frank discussion with the minister about human rights in his country and I want Mr. Badawi to be free, and I will do everything for that.
Tom Clark: What about their support of the Islamic State?
Stéphane Dion: There is no indication that they are supporting the Islamic State.
Tom Clark: You don’t believe that they’re involved in any way?
Stéphane Dion: We are questioning them of course, but we don’t consider them as an ally of the Islamic State.
Tom Clark: Okay, Stéphane Dion, there’s so much to talk about, but I appreciate this very much, and the very best of the season to you as well.
Stéphane Dion: Thank you, Tom. And the same for you and your family.
Tom Clark: Thank you.
Tom Clark: December 12th, 2015, the start perhaps of a new era, the world signed onto a climate deal. It’s not binding, but it is ambitious. And if it works, things will never be the same again.
And joining me now is Canada’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna. Minister thanks very much for being here. Now that we’ve signed the deal, let’s take a look at what life is going to be like for the average Canadian in the years ahead. How is life going to be different in Canada?
Catherine McKenna: Well I mean, I think first of all [chuckles] we just finished Paris and we got a great deal, 195 countries coming together, so there’s clear momentum. There’s a clear desire by countries across the world to move to a low carbon future, and that’s something our government has committed to. But we need to now sit down with the provinces and territories and come up with a plan which will include different measures that’ll move in that direction, reduce our emissions. And so, as you know, provinces and territories have already enacted climate change plans, and I don’t think that there’s been drastic changes to the lives of Canadians, but really what we’re doing is trying to (do is) create the right incentives so that you see industry recognizing that they need to move to cleaner technology. There are things like electric vehicles that are real opportunities to reduce emissions, but we need to be doing it in a thoughtful way where we recognize the economy, environment go together. And what’s really heartening is part of my delegation in Paris, I had business, big business. I had environmental NGOs. I had indigenous leaders. I had youths. I had Opposition members, and I also had provinces and territories. So I think there’s this idea everyone wants to move forward and there’s this real appetite for change, and so now I think we have to look at what are the practical solutions. And so some things are like investing in green technology. We’re going to spend significant money on green technology, also green innovation in public transit. The City of Ottawa is bringing in LRT. It’s going to be the largest reduction in emissions.
Tom Clark: And I understand that, that’s the bigger broader picture, but when it comes down to life on the street, life in a house, are Canadians going to be driving as much? Are they going to be flying as much? How substantially are their lives going to be different because I can’t believe that if we live up to our obligations that nobody’s going to feel any difference at all.
Catherine McKenna: I think obviously there will be changes. We always hear change in the way we do things. There are some really good opportunities when we look at energy efficiency of buildings. So looking at how we build in a more sustainable way, and we see that even in reducing costs. So there are a lot of affordable housing projects that are now being built in a more sustainable way and it’s cheaper.
Tom Clark: Aren’t there some big things we’ve got to do though?
Catherine McKenna: So there are big things that are being done by the provinces and the territories. So a lot of them have already put a price on carbon and I think that market forces can help drive this—can drive innovation, because we do need to see moving to a future where we are using less pollutants.
Tom Clark: You did describe a couple of things. You talked about electric cars and you talked about solar and that sort of thing, but I want to look at the tax side of things, because we are putting a price on carbon. Are you going to be using the tax code as a way to change behaviour?
Catherine McKenna: Well, so with the price on carbon, we already see that the provinces are already doing this. So I think probably 90 per cent of Canadians will already have a price on carbon where they live, so it’s going to be driven by the provinces. I mean we just want to see across the board that we have the right incentives. So a price on carbon, but the provinces are out there doing this already, whether through cap and trade or through a carbon tax, we will be working with the provinces and territories to do that. But I think the incentives are really important and the market incentives. So when I was in Paris, there was a big announcement called Mission Innovation. We had billionaires. We had Bill Gates. We had Mark Zuckerberg. Canada was part of this, and the idea is doubling investment in clean tech and in renewables. So I think we need to be creating the incentives and I think the market realizes that. So we talked about eliminating the subsidies for fossil fuels. That sends a clear signal that we need to be thinking about how are moving to a more sustainable future.
Tom Clark: Well on that one, on the subsidies for fossil fuels, is that going to be in the very first budget? Are you going to move very quickly on that?
Catherine McKenna: I think we’re going to move thoughtfully on—I know that Canadians—
Tom Clark: Thoughtfully is another word for saying not immediately.
Catherine McKenna: No. I mean look we have 90 days where we’re coming out with a Canadian framework, and where we’re going to have a meeting with the provinces and territories. I’ve already started doing the work. I met with my counterparts, the environment ministers in Paris. We had a dinner and we have officials looking at different things that would make a big difference, how we can support the work of the provinces and territories. I say ‘thoughtfully’ because we really do believe the environment and the economy go together, but you need to make sure that you do it in a way that there’s not massive disruption and that you’re thinking about how do we create jobs? How do we reduce costs? Because if we’re moving towards renewals, the whole point of renewables is they renew them, so it’s going to be less costly, but until you think about the way to do this, how to create the right incentives, how you create the right investments, you’re not just going to throw things on the table. So I think we’re going to think about how do we do this in a way that will absolutely reduce emissions, but in a way that makes sure we’re looking at creating jobs and we’re creating opportunities for amazing companies out there and we have very ingenious Canadian companies that I know that are moving in this direction.
Tom Clark: Catherine McKenna, Canada’s minister of the environment and climate change. Thanks very much for being here and the best of the holidays to you and your family.
Catherine McKenna: Oh, thank you. I’m looking forward to holidays. [Chuckles] Thanks.
Tom Clark: Coming up, US Ambassador Bruce Heyman on the personal relations between Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama. And then later: a Christmas classic.
Voice-over: As you can see it’s not going to fit my big melon very good, but—
Somebody somewhere will say something, it’s a bad idea. Yeah, but what do I care.
Come and put a hat on…
Tom Clark: Welcome back. They are our closest neighbours and our largest trading partner, but many senior observers say that Canada’s relationship with the United States has suffered over the past decade. Now, with the election of Justin Trudeau, there are signs that that may be changing.
Joining me now is the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Bruce Heyman. Ambassador, thanks very much for being here.
Bruce Heyman: Good to be here.
Tom Clark: Let me pick up right on that point, do you sense that things are changing between Canada and the United States?
Bruce Heyman: So let’s just start where we’ve been, at least in the last two years or so that I’ve been here. We actually have gotten a lot done in the last few years. Trade in 2014 was at record levels and this is the largest trading relationship the U.S. has, the Canadian relationship. Second, the visitors that we’ve had, we’ve had eight cabinet level visitors, plus the vice president, which is any person’s memory is one of the largest that we’ve had. We’ve had a third of the U.S. governors come up on trade missions. We’re promoting SelectUSA in doing business cross border. We’re doing things culturally. We worked together in Ukraine. We worked together defeating hopefully Ebola. We’re working together on our commitment in the Middle East to defeat Daesh. We’re working together on a lot of things, so I don’t want to characterize it as anything but a continuation of a very strong and good relationship.
Tom Clark: But as you know in diplomacy, and especially between Canada and the United States, personalities matter, how a prime minister gets along with the president makes a big difference.
Bruce Heyman: Sure they do, yeah.
Tom Clark: It seems at least at the beginning that the relationship between Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama is different than the one between Stephen Harper and President Obama. You know both of these players—
Bruce Heyman: Yeah, I do.
Tom Clark: So what’s that relationship like?
Bruce Heyman: The early stages are really good. The two of them had some very good conversations both by phone and in person in the multilateral meetings that they participated in globally last month. I saw the president a couple of weeks ago and I had the opportunity to talk to him about the prime minister. He’s very excited about having the prime minister and his wife come to Washington in the new year, and very excited about the relationship. He did comment on the youthfulness of the prime minister and we joked a little bit about the comments of the grey hair which the president has.
Tom Clark: Let me get back to business just briefly here, No. 1 priority for you with this new government, what would that be?
Bruce Heyman: Well it’s hard to say No. 1 when you have your closest ally, your largest trading relationship, your deepest partner, I think my number priority is to be able to have a strong relationship so that we could tackle anything that comes up between us, sit down and find a path to success, but we have lots of priorities. One is trade, I talked about trade and where we’ve been. The second is energy and the environment. The third are continuing our cultural exchanges. The fourth tackling shared values internationally. And the fifth is always working on enhancing the border.
Tom Clark: Okay, speaking of the border, we are by the end of February, going to be hosing 25,000 Syrian refugees. The United States isn’t taking very many at all, and the political discussion south of the border is centering around the whole security threat that the Syrians may pose to the United States. Twenty-five thousand sitting on your northern border, does that create a political problem for the United States?
Bruce Heyman: So we are, and I say we when I talk about Canada and the United States, nations of immigrants. I’m just a couple of generations away from what I consider to be refugees coming to North America. My family came to the U.S. Vicky’s family came through Canada, and this is who we are. This is our fabric. This is what makes us who we are. I commend the prime minister of his efforts on being a leader in demonstrating leadership with humanitarian efforts and he’s being recognized globally for that. We always have to find a balance. The balance between security and then free trade and travel at our border, but I commend the prime minister in the good work he’s doing on the humanitarian basis.
Tom Clark: Very briefly, what should Canadians make of the political discussion in the United States? We hear what any of the Republican candidates are talking about, building walls, especially when it comes to security, should we be concerned?
Bruce Heyman: People up here should realize the anxiety in the United States has increased, especially since San Bernardino, post Paris. New York Times poll said American anxiety’s the highest it’s been since 9/11. The president has addressed the country, so Canadians should understand that there is anxiety in our country, but with regard to our presidential race, we’re in very early stages of this.
Tom Clark: Ambassador Bruce Heyman, what a great pleasure to talk to you. Thank you very much and the best to you and your family for the season.
Bruce Heyman: Thank you very much and to you as well.
Tom Clark: Thank you.
Coming up next, one of the season’s favourite stories: as told by poetic politicians.
Voice-over: You ready?
Have a happy holiday. Oh yes, Emmy.
Lump of coal. Lump of coal.
Tom Clark: Welcome back. You asked. Prime Minister Trudeau answered. On Christmas Day, tune into Global National for a town hall interview called: Because It’s 2015: A Conversation with the Prime Minister. Now, if you miss it then, you can tune in next Sunday during The West Block and here is Trudeau on why he promised to run deficits in the last campaign.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: When we made that decision, my one worry was actually that the NDP was going to have heard the same things that we did and pitch an even more ambitious program than we did because we wanted to be responsible because Liberals are fiscally responsible as well as ready to invest, and we were worried that the NDP was going to go really big. And when they came out as soon as we said we’re going to run deficits because we’re going to invest in our future, and they said well that’s irresponsible, we’re going to balance Stephen Harper’s budget, we realized okay, you know what that’s probably the election right there. And I told—
Tom Clark: Okay, so that’s next week, but this is the show for this week. And we leave you today with a real little Christmas present from Parliament Hill: some MPs reading this Christmas classic. By the way, for a full list of the cast, please visit our website: 长沙夜生活thewestblock长沙夜网. I’m Tom Clark, have a wonderful Christmas and we will see you back here next year.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair—Outremont
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there;
With appearances by NDP MPs Gord Johns (Courtney – Alberni) and Karine Trudel (Jonquiere)
Conservative Interim Leader Rona Ambrose—Sturgeon River—Parkland
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
Ginette Petitpas Taylor—Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe (Liberal)
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
Wayne Easter—Malpeque (Liberal)
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer,
Ruth Ellen Brosseau—Berthier-Maskinongé (New Democrat)
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
Seamus O’Regan—St. John’s South—Mount Pearl (Liberal)
“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
With an appearance by Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan (Vancouver South)
Dianne Watts—South Surrey-White Rock (Conservative)
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too—
Larry Miller—Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound (Conservative)
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.
Jenny Kwan—Vancouver East (New Democrat)
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
Charlie Angus—Timmins-James Bay (New Democrat)
His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
Celina Caesar-Chavannes—Whitby (Liberal)
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.
Andrew Scheer—Regina-Qu’Appelle (Conservative)
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
Lisa Raitt—Milton (Conservative)
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May—Saanich—Gulf Islands
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight—
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau—Papineau (Liberal)
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”