THE WEST BLOCK
Episode 25, Season 5
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Host: Tom Clark
Guests: Ralph Goodale, Gary Doer, Susan Delacourt, Patrick Brown
Tom Clark: On this Sunday, a leaked document from ISIS identifies thousands of ISIS fighters, including six Canadians. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale is here.
And then, the bromance, but what did the prime minister’s visit to Washington really accomplish? We’ll talk to former Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer and journalist Susan Delacourt.
Plus, a crack in the Conservative wall on climate change. The Ontario Conservative Party now supports a price on carbon. Will the federal Conservatives be next? We’ll talk with Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown.
It is Sunday, March the 13th. From the nation’s capital, I’m Tom Clark. And you are in The West Block.
Tom Clark: Last week, the names of six Canadians were found on an ISIS document, along with thousands of other foreign fighters. In total, about 100 or so Canadians are believed to be in Iraq and Syria fighting for the Islamic State and at least 60 others have returned home.
And joining me now, Canada’s Public Safety Minister, Ralph Goodale. Mr. Goodale, good to have you here. You know this list that has been leaked to the German government, and now we find that there are six other Canadians on this list. In general though, when you start adding up the numbers, overall, is the picture getting worse or is it getting better? In other words, are more people going from Canada to fight for ISIS now than two years ago? What’s happening?
Ralph Goodale: Well, I think it’s largely a matter of data improving, but you can never be naïve about these circumstances. Obviously, ISIL is a potent force that we need to be astute and strong in dealing with.
Tom Clark: But are you getting the sense from our intelligence people though that there’s an increase in the number of Canadians going to fight for them?
Ralph Goodale: No, the numbers that CSIS and the RCMP track have increased a small amount in the last number of years, but any increase is troubling. And what we need to get very good at is stopping that phenomenon before it happens.
Tom Clark: It seems to me that there are two aspects of stopping that and let’s deal with the most immediate one. And that is, I think in testimony, CSIS was saying that about 60 of them have come back to Canada. Do we have 24/7 surveillance on those 60? Why are they still walking around?
Ralph Goodale: There’s no question that Canada’s police and security services keep those people under very close observation to be very certain about what their behaviour is.
Tom Clark: Why are we arresting them though? I mean why are they walking around freely?
Ralph Goodale: The issue is making sure you’ve got a case on the basis of hard evidence that will actually stick in court. And there is a distinction between intelligence information and the conversion of that information into evidence in court. And the police authorities and the prosecutorial authorities are working day and night on that evidence to make sure when they lay charges, as they have done most recently, that that will in fact stick.
Tom Clark: Yeah, and you know, but at the same time, the amount of money and personnel that we’re putting in to tracking 60 people, 24/7 and that number is going to increase all the time. I mean is this sustainable over the long run?
Ralph Goodale: It’s expensive, but there’s nothing more important than keeping people safe. And that’s why we need to make sure that our police forces and our security services, our intelligence services have the tools they need to have, including effective budgets to do the job that we ask of them because Canadians expect two things. They expect to be kept safe and they expect it to be done in a way that fully respects their rights and freedoms and the values of this country. And that’s sometimes a very challenging circle to square. We’ve got to make sure we get it right.
Tom Clark: Do we know—do you know yet—whether the budgets of our intelligence agencies are going to be kept whole in the next budget or are they going to be increased?
Ralph Goodale: Well as a former minister of finance, a week or two before the budget, I know you don’t speculate about what’s in there. But we made the point before the election and during the election that our security and police forces need to have the resources to do the very difficult jobs we ask of them. And you can’t ask them to do the job if you’re not prepared to give them the tools to do it.
Tom Clark: Let me go to the second part of stopping it, and you know, in conversations that I’ve had with senior generals at the Pentagon, people in the American intelligence community, what they say is that while we’re doing an okay job on the military side and containing ISIL and so on, we’re losing the propaganda war. We may be able to secure the buildings, but we’re losing the hearts and minds and we’re not doing a good enough job there. So what should we be doing? What could Canada be doing to enter the propaganda war in a way that is going to stop that?
Ralph Goodale: Well one of those tools is the thing that we mentioned in the election campaign, and it’s in my mandate letter, and that’s the creation of a new Canadian Office of Community Outreach and Counter-Radicalization Coordination to make sure that we’re getting the best research, we’re developing all the right ideas, we’re looking at the most effective communication tools to understand this phenomenon of radicalization, to understand who’s vulnerable to it, understand who are the best people to intervene at the right place in the right way at the right time, to get those powerful positive messages that counteract the negative propaganda that has sadly converted too many people to that particularly radical point of view. And this office will draw on what a number of provinces and cities are doing, what a number of police forces are doing. It’ll draw up on our own Canadian research, international research, best practices, and how we deploy that in the field effectively to communicate well.
Tom Clark: And how much are we spending on this?
Ralph Goodale: That’s a budget decision we have yet to make because this office is not yet established. But we’ve got to make sure it’s properly funded. You’ve got to have the research work to back it up. And then if you’re going to deploy it, it costs money and we’ve got to recognize that as a priority. But we’ll have it in the budget frame beginning over the next three to four years.
Tom Clark: Okay. Ralph Goodale, Public Safety Minister, thanks very much for being here. I appreciate your time.
Ralph Goodale: Glad to do it.
Tom Clark: Well still to come, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative leader challenges the thinking, Conservative thinking on carbon pricing.
But first, between the glitz and the glamour, what did the state visit between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau actually accomplish? That’s next.
Tom Clark: Welcome back. President Barack Obama welcomed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Washington with some pomp, some circumstance and a few jokes last week. But the state visit was more than just gourmet food and celebrity guest lists. The leaders discussed issues like climate change, security and trade.
Joining me now to take a look at this visit and its affects, Susan Delacourt, the author and journalist joining me here in Ottawa, and from Winnipeg, I’m joined by Gary Doer, the former Canadian ambassador to Washington, by a couple of weeks anyway. Gary let me start with you because you really organized this entire visit. So how did it go?
Gary Doer: Well I didn’t organize it entirely. I was involved in it. I certainly think it flowed from the meeting of the prime minister and the president in Manila. It flowed from a meeting that Gerald Butts had with Denis McDonough. And of course the contact was made with the embassy in early December to have the state visit, which is extremely positive and I was involved with the PMO and the team in Ottawa and the team in Washington for a period of time until my successor came in on both the agenda and some of the other items. I tried to add both a little few items for the agenda in terms of recommendations, and I threw in a few names that they should consider inviting on the US side because I know that most Americans don’t know that Lorne Michaels is a Canadian, and of course he controls all the US political humour in the United States and it’s not always known by Americans.
Tom Clark But you know Gary, one name that was not on the guest list was Gary Doer, former Canadian ambassador to Washington who had a lot to do with this visit. As Leslie Gore says, ‘it’s your party and you can cry if you want to,’ but you weren’t there. But a lot of people might have thought that you should have been at that table.
Susan Delacourt: Not to mention us.
Tom Clark: Not to mention us, yeah, but Gary obviously didn’t put us on that list. Listen, one word that never came up in this visit and I throw it out to both of you, but Susan you start. The word Keystone never came up.
Susan Delacourt: No, I think, again, the former ambassador may know this better than I do, but I think they got that out of the way really early in this relationship so that they could get on with the kind of positive happy stuff that we saw this week. You know, sort of push that aside. It was never going to go any place, so that they could get around to all of this as well. What I’d be curious in knowing, I guess from the former ambassador, Gary, is how much of this would have happened of the final communiqué would have been the same if Stephen Harper had been down there? We know he wouldn’t have got a state dinner, I guess, but I’d be curious to know how much of this has been in the works for even longer than the Trudeau government’s been in.
Gary Doer: Well there are elements that were developed before the government changed. The pre-clearance agreement was negotiated, but it hasn’t been legislated yet in Parliament. It’s a proceeding on the Hill. And this is very important because it’s a vision of managing our affairs at the border in a bilateral way, similar to what we do with NORAD where we try to manage risk before it gets to the border. And I think going ahead with the four pre-clearance agreements is good for both administrations, but more importantly, good for Canada. Having said that, the new government took the whole issue of exit-entry and really, I think Ralph Goodale really worked hard and effectively on getting a procedure in place where if people are inaccurately put on the no-fly list, there’s a remedy to get them off. And I think that was an important development in the proposed exit-entry proposal from what I can see, so it’s a positive development. On climate change, they were both together in the past on like vehicle emission standards, but getting an agreement on methane where Saskatchewan and Alberta had the same rules as Montana and North Dakota is extremely positive in terms of competition between the two jurisdictions.
Tom Clark: Gary, just let me jump in here and go to the both of you. It’s been talked a lot about, but on the basis of would this have happened under Stephen Harper, personal relationships as we always say, matter between a president and the prime minister. Clearly, there’s a bit of a bromance going on here between the two of them. It may only last for another 10 months, but Gary and Susan, jump into this as well. You know, this is a new element of the Canada-US relationship. We have now a prime minister and a president who get along as opposed to, and Gary you know this as well, the freeze out that happened here in Ottawa to the US ambassador, the current US ambassador under Stephen Harper. I mean it was pretty chilly between these two capitals for a long time.
Susan Delacourt: Well it’s hard not to know—go ahead.
Gary Doer: Sorry, go ahead Susan. Sorry.
Susan Delacourt: [Laughs] We’re having a ‘polite-off.’ It’s very Canadian. It was hard not to miss the presence of the ambassador all through this. And on social media, he was being called the ‘good friend of the prime minister’, so definitely there is a tone change there. What it gets us—
Tom Clark: That’s a different question.
Susan Delacourt: Yeah.
Tom Clark: But Gary, from your perspective because you saw this close-up, how much really changed? I mean when did winter turn into spring in terms of the relationships between the two countries?
Gary Doer: Well I think that there’s no question that in general terms, a Republican president gets along better with a Conservative prime minister. And there’s no question that a Conservative member of Canada gets along with the staff and the elected officials in the Republican Party on a value basis more effectively than when it’s the opposite. So that has happened with Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan. It happened with George Bush and Stephen Harper. But on big items, you work in the public interest, so if you look at the Detroit-Windsor Bridge, if you look at TPP negotiations that everybody predicted would not go anywhere. If you look at beyond the border, they had a very professional relationship. If you look at the disagreement on Keystone, I think it was partly because it went on and on and on and as the dispute went on, Canada never had a better period of time under Barack Obama in terms of selling oil. He’s actually doubled the amount of oil he’s taken from Canada in less a period of time. Having said that, we would argue that it wasn’t with the proper infrastructure, but it was wise after the decision was made of no to go on with the other 95 per cent files that define our relationship and get them done, not just focus in on what became a huge media issue and that was Keystone pipeline.
Tom Clark: Susan, we’re quickly running out of time here. We’ve got an opening. We’ve got an opportunity whether you like celebrity or not, it plays in Washington. What do we do with it?
Susan Delacourt: Well I would like the Trudeau government to answer that too, but I think get as much as possible before the election. I think that would be a good idea. Nobody can predict, as we’ve seen, what is going to happen in the United States right now. I think there is a protectionist mood in both parties; Democrat and Republican, as we saw in Michigan with the primaries this week. So I think probably work over the next few months to get as much as possible.
Tom Clark: Gary, last 20 seconds to you.
Gary Doer: Everything Susan said is correct. The items that are time limited get them done. Pre-clearance, Detroit-Windsor Bridge, they have to make a decision on TPP, but that’ll be subject to public hearings. I would say on the protectionist side, it would affect soft wood lumber and it could affect other items as we proceed. We should be very worried about the debate that took place in the Senate and the House on currency manipulation with Japan and other countries and keep one on that when we look at currency with the contending candidates running for president. Currency is a big deal in the United States, it’s a big deal affecting TPP, and it could be a big deal affecting protectionist behaviour in the United States. So I’m not the Bank of Canada, but please watch that issue.
Tom Clark: Alright, we’re out of time, but thank you both very much; Susan Delacourt joining me here in Ottawa, and Gary Doer our former ambassador to Washington joining us from Winnipeg. Thanks to you both, appreciate it.
Gary Doer: Thank you.
Tom Clark: Coming up next, a Conservative revolution on climate change begins in Ontario and threatens the federal Conservative ramparts in Ottawa.
Tom Clark: Welcome back. Putting a price on carbon isn’t a message normally associated with Conservatives, but that is changing, at least in Ontario. The provinces Progressive Conservative Leader, Patrick Brown says he supports it. And that’s not the only thing he’s trying to change about his party.
Patrick Brown joins me now from Toronto. Mr. Brown thanks very much for being here. I want to just take you back to more than a week ago. You gave a speech and you said this, “Climate change is a fact. It is a threat. It is man-made. We have to do something about it, and that something includes putting a price on carbon.” Now when you made those remarks, you got tepid applause and actually some of your party members actually booed you for saying that. Were you surprised?
Patrick Brown: Well I think there was one person that said no, but I think the broad consensus in the party and the united position of our caucus is that we can no longer run from discussions on the environment. I think for far too long we’ve ceded that territory to the other political parties and frankly, I’m relatively young myself. I believe in the science around climate change. I believe that it is environmental challenge and I think there needs to be a Conservative response. Right now in Ontario, Kathleen Wynne introduced cap-and-trade legislation that is a $1.9 billion revenue-grab. Rather than bigger government, my response, and the position of our caucus, was that every single cent raised should be returned in tax relief and is based on the principle that polluters pay.
Tom Clark: Well that’s very similar actually to the green shift that Dion put forward for the Liberals a number of elections ago. But here’s what I wanted to ask you though because you were a member of the federal Conservative caucus in years gone by, and you were there during those years when Conservative after Conservative stood up in the House of Commons and talked about the job-killing carbon tax, and yet here you are advocating that a price be put on carbon, something that the current federal Conservatives up here still say is a terrible, terrible idea. What was your conversation? What changed your mind on all of this?
Patrick Brown: Well now that I’m leading the party here in Ontario, my personal opinion is that we can’t simply criticize, we have to offer solutions. We have to offer alternatives and this legislation was before us. It got voted on Thursday. None of our suggestions on revenue neutrality or returning every cent in tax relief were adopted by the government, but at least they were alternatives and there are two different visions here. And the vision that I am advocating is actually the same principle adopted by Ronald Reagan and Brian Mulroney during the negotiations around acid rain. It’s the same principle being advocated by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron in the UK and the same principle that’s been supported by Preston Manning when he says there’s no contradiction between conservatism and conservation. And you know I feel very proud to be able to state that clearly here in Ontario that you can care about the environment and be a proud Progressive Conservative.
Tom Clark: But you know the effect that this is going to have on the Conservative movement because after all, if the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario takes this stance as boldly as you have put it out, it is really going to shake things up here on Parliament Hill for your former colleagues on the Hill. What advice would you have for any of the people who are thinking about running for the leadership of the federal Conservative Party? Do you think that they should come on board with you because at the moment, the federal Conservatives are still denying the idea that there should be any sort of price or tax on carbon at all?
Patrick Brown: No, I think right now the federal party is going through a period of reflection. My advice to other Conservatives parties is that we have to take climate change seriously. We can’t avoid conversations on the environment and there are a number of Conservative MPs actually saying a similar approach. I note that Michael Chong gave a similar speech at the Manning Conference. And I would encourage all those who are seeking the Conservative leadership that building a modern Conservative movement means having a Conservative response to tackling and protecting our environment.
Tom Clark: Just before we go, I have to show everybody the new logo that you brought in for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. And I got to tell you, it’s quite stunning. You’ve got not only Conservative blue in there, but you’ve got Liberal red and you’ve even got green in this logo. And you’re using the expression “better is always possible” which of course was the expression of the campaign slogan of Justin Trudeau in the last federal election campaign. How radically are you trying to change this party?
Patrick Brown: Well actually the colours of the new logo are from the Ontario flag. Our signs are still going to be blue and proudly blue, but the new logo highlights an updated logo that speaks to our modern Progressive Conservative Party. In terms of that one line in the speech about “better is always possible”, I don’t think Justin Trudeau owns a monopoly on the words “better is possible.” I think every politician since confederation has used that same line.
Tom Clark: [Laughs] Okay, Patrick Brown joining me from Toronto. Good talking to you again Mr. Brown. We’ll talk to you again in the future.
Patrick Brown: My pleasure.
Tom Clark: Well that is our show for today. There was an emotional tribute in the House of Commons last week. For a few magical moments, Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger was made the honorary Speaker. That’s the job that he wanted permanently, but he had to pull his name from the race after being diagnosed with ALS. He has lost his voice, but he did the job with the help of a voice generator. So here’s his big moment. Thanks for joining us. I’m Tom Clark. Have a great week.
Rona Ambrose: And I have to remark that you have achieved in a very short period of time what many speakers dream of, which is a well-behaved chamber.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: And I salute you, as honourable member for Ottawa-Vanier and Speaker, for the dignity and grace that you bring to the House every day as you battle this terrible disease.
Mauril Bélanger: I would like to thank you all dear colleagues of this House for the great privilege you have bestowed upon me to serve as honorary Speaker of the House of Commons today. Thank you very much.