Elections North: A Panel on the Outcome of the Canadian Federal Election

Elections North: A Panel on the Outcome of the Canadian Federal Election

Whatcom Community College’s Heiner Center. My name is Ulrich Schraml and
I’m the associate director of international programs
or internationalization here at Whatcom. Our International
Programs Office is trying to bring
the world to Whatcom– we have currently about over
300 international students– as well as getting our students
and faculty out into the world. We’re also trying to provide
our college community with opportunities to
get more information what is going on in the world. Our neighbors to the north
voted on Monday, and as a result will have a new
government and a new PM. Interestingly enough, the new
elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the son of
famous Canadian politician and former Prime Minister Pierre
Trudeau, who characterized the relationship between
the US and Canada once as, and I quote, “being America’s
neighbor is like sleeping with an elephant– no matter how friendly and
even-tempered the beast, if one can call it that,
one is affected by every twitch and grunt.” And also, of course, we
all know that elephants don’t forget easily. To discuss the implications
of the election, we have a distinguished
panel today. I would like to introduce
Joel Connelly live from seattlepi.com,,
longtime columnist with an extensive knowledge
of Canadian politics and environmental politics;
Joel Plouffe from the University of Quebec at Montreal, arctic
scholar and editor of Arctic Yearbook; and Dave Rossiter,
Western Washington University associate professor of
geography and director of the Center for
Canadian American studies. Without further ado, let’s
jump into Canadian waters and the subject of
Canadian politics. DAVID ROSSITER: Well,
who watched the election the other night? I see a bunch of Canadian hands
up from faculty members I know. But perhaps students
in Whatcom County didn’t know that
there was an election. Or if you did, you
probably had better things to do like watch
a Blue Jays game. It was a good night
to be Canadian because the Blue
Jays did win and we had quite a historic election. Now I’m going to put my
preferences on the table right now in that the
outcome to my mind was a successful and
a very good outcome. And I want to frame
my comments around why I think that outcome was good. So it’s definitely,
you’re going to tell, coming from a particular
political position and set of values that I would
like to see return to Canada. But before I give you my
take on what happened, I just want to let you know what
happened for those of you that don’t know. So we have a new prime
minister in Canada. It would be a prime
minister designate, although I don’t
think that’s probably the right nomenclature. We currently have the
same prime minister we had on election
night, Stephen Harper. And he will have to resign,
and resign before the governor general, who is the queen’s
representative in Canada, at which time that governor
general will invite the winner to form a government. So that will happen over
the next 10 days or so. So we in Canada have a
parliamentary democracy, which is quite
different from what you have in the United States. And the key thing to know
in a parliamentary democracy is that the executive branch
and the legislative branch are fused, that the
executive comes out of the legislative
branch of government. And what that means in
practice is on Monday night there were 338
electoral districts– or what we call
in Canada ridings. Anybody know why
they’re called ridings? Because back in the 19th
century, if you had a horse and you were the
representative, you could ride around it in a day. So that’s basically the idea– although they’re
all different sizes. 338 of those. And there’s five
key parties that were contesting those ridings. Not all those five
parties contested all 338, but a fairly good
representation, at least regionally from those parties. And what happens is in an
election each of those ridings, people go to the polls and vote
for the party representative, the member of
parliament potentially, that they would like
to see go to Ottawa and sit in the House of Commons. Whichever party has
the most numbers of MPs elected to the House of
Commons has the chance to form government. And if you have more than
170 of those 338 seats, you hold a 50% plus one,
you hold a majority, and therefore you have a stable
government that can always get legislation passed
without being voted down by other parties. So that is roughly
how things work. From that party that
gets the most seats, the government and the
executive is chosen. And the leader of that
party is the prime minister, the leader of the government. And the way to think
about this in terms of maybe American-Canadian
comparisons is let’s say your congressional
elections put in more Democrats than Republicans. The Democrats would
form a government out of the elected
Democrats into Congress. That would be kind of a
parallel to what happens. So there isn’t a pure
separation of the executive and the legislative. And so that is how
the system works. What we have had up until
Monday is a majority Conservative government. So the Conservative Party had
a little more than 150 seats in the old parliament, which
was a 308 seat totality. We added 30 seats in this
most recent election. The Conservative Party
held a majority– not a terribly strong
one, but a workable one. The New Democratic Party,
with just around 100 seats, formed the official opposition–
there’s an actual official role for the second largest
party to oppose the government and to create
debate, and tension, and come to some
good policy outcomes. The Liberal Party was third
with a vote 35, 36 seats. So those three parties
are the big players. We have a Green Party
and a Bloc Quebecois, which is a party interested
in removing Quebec from the Canadian federation. They had a few
seats at dissolution of the last parliament. And they gained a
few in this one. But the big thing that happened
was that party with 35, 36 seats, the Liberal Party,
leapfrogged into first place with 184 seats in this election. So a solid majority– 170 is a majority. So they now are in the driver’s
seat, and can pass legislation, and will be in power
for at least four years. Now just one last
primer on labels. The Liberals would be very close
to your Democrats in the United States. The Conservatives map onto
the Republicans pretty well. And the NDP, the New
Democratic Party, would be, I guess, Bernie
Sanders set of policies and followers, something
that has had much more traction in Canada than the
United States historically. We’ve never had an NDP
federal government– national government– in
Canada, but we have had several provincial governments that
have been New Democratic– in British Columbia some of
the more successful ones; depends on your take, I suppose. So that is where we’re at. Now I’d like to give you my
take on what it all means. And I want to give you
that take by thinking about a few interactions I’ve
had with folks since being at Western and in the Canadian
American Studies Center there. I’ve had a number of chats with
colleagues who were American, with students who were
American, asking me what’s up, what’s
up with Canada, and this over the last
eight, nine years. And I was like,
what do you mean? Well, what’s up
with Canada being at Copenhagen or other
climate change conferences and seemingly winning all
of Fossil of the Day, Fossil of the Week, Fossil
of the Year awards for dragging down any
international agreements to stop carbon emissions from
driving global climate change. What’s up with Canada
and its positions on Israel and Palestine,
where once Canada was an extraordinarily
useful middle player and had seemingly become a
knee jerk supporter of anything that the current regime
in Israel decides to do, more so than any other
government on the face of the earth, really? What’s up with Canada and it’s
seeming weird conversation in the last election about
the niqab, a Muslim face covering or veil that
had become a lightning rod for Conservative
politicians to argue for a particular
vision of Canada in citizenship ceremonies and
other facets of daily life. And the what’s up
that I kept hearing was because the folks
asking me what’s up were sensing a different Canada
than they had been taught existed, the liberal Canada
of a single payer health care system, of multilateral
peace keeping, of good global citizen in terms
of being a middle power that seeks to bring consensus
around contentious issues rather than seeking
to divide and fall onto one side or another
very hard of debates. And my response
to all the what’s up over the last eight, nine
years has been a constant, I know. [LAUGHTER] Because I grew up in
the 1970s and 1980s when that image of Canada
was very strongly promoted by our governments in Canada,
both Liberal and Progressive Conservative– we
had a party called the Progressive Conservatives
once upon a time in Canada. Now that Canada,
the one that people might be asking
where has it gone, the one that I might
say that I mourn, may never have
existed in reality, in policy on the ground. But there was a sense of
what it was to be Canadian that Canadians felt
and that I think our neighbors to the
south, Americans, attached to Canadian identity that– as a different place
than the United States– not as driven by markets,
supply and demand logics, but ready to let the state
intervene a little bit in the economy to maybe
soften some edges. Saw a country that
looked at immigration as an opportunity
for all peoples to be whoever they
are in one polity rather than to conform
to that polity. Saw in Canada a place
where the collective seemed to have some
place in public life. And whether or not
that was the reality, it was a sensibility
that gave a lot of people from Canadian perspectives some
pride and sense of difference from the United States and folks
in the United States some way of identifying Canada. And arguably, the last
nine and change years has been an experience
of a government that has not shared that
vision, and has actively tried to change that
sensibility of what Canada is, and to remake Canada along
in the image of a more militaristic, more
market-driven, more individualistic kind of society. Now I say all this and it
sounds like a great big tragedy or conspiracy theory if
you hold some of the values that I might hold. But the prime minister
that has just departed was very successful through
three electoral cycles in putting his policies somewhat
into the mirror for Canadians to reflect on and think about. And so what happened
in this election is that we went into it
with this sense of what’s happening with Canada, what’s
happening with Canadian values, but not a sense that this
particular prime minister in government was on
its way out necessarily. We may have been heading,
a lot of folks thought, for a minority
situation where there was nobody who had 170 seats,
that the Conservatives were starting to wear out
their welcome but perhaps none of the others were
ready or able to take over. And so a campaign began. And you guys will think
this is very cute. The campaign was the
longest in Canadian history since the end of
the 19th century. We had a little bit of
a long one back then. It was 78 days long. And Americans are like, oh my
god, give me a 78 day election, that would be wonderful. But it felt really long to
be Canadian in that kind of an election. And it started off with
some airing of some scandals that the government
was involved in. And that was a
pretty big scandal. But it seemed to die away. And maybe they thought
they were going to get past that start talking
about the economy, what they thought would be their
strong point, and security. And then something around
security in the Middle East happened that
fundamentally, in my view, changed the narrative to
where it was ready to go and people were ready
to pick up on it. And that event was the Syria– Syrian refugee crisis exploding
and the extraordinarily tragic and sad set of
images of that young boy on the beach in Turkey. As that was
happening, it came out that that young boy’s
family had been petitioning to have some of that family
come to Canada in refugee status and that the prime minister’s
office had actually intervened in the selection of Syrian
refugees to make sure that refugees that
they would prefer from ethnic religious
backgrounds be successful and others not. And at the same time, the
immigration minister for Canada was asked, what is the
Conservative government doing to have some relief valve for
this massive refugee population and enable Canada to
act in some positive way towards the situation? And the immigration minister
basically doubled down on the narrative of having to
keep potential terrorists out and that we must be very
cautious and slow in responding to this crisis. Was challenged by the
interviewer on TV, and she scored some large points
in Canadian public discourse. And this immigration
minister actually went underground for two
days in damage control mode. When that whole thing blew over,
the narrative of the election had spun onto what does
it mean to be Canada– Canadian? What are our values? What is our place in the world? And folks started to
articulate that question that I had said I’ve been
experiencing for 10 years and asking
themselves, I believe. And what ended up
happening was the person who won, Justin Trudeau, seemed
to embody an emotional response to this set of non-Canadian
values and morals, if we may call them that,
that were being articulated through this refugee crisis. He picked up the emotional
sensibility of some Canada that had gone away
in the last decade. And he was able to, without
really articulating it in policy terms, tap into
something that at least I had sensed that had been lost,
and I think many others had. And what he did was rode
that emotional sensibility to this large majority
that two months ago no one would have predicted. He was looked at
as a lightweight. He’s the son of a
former prime minister and he was trading on his name. He’s apparently gorgeous,
and it was partly that. However, I think
there’s reassessments that are happening
along the lines of this is someone who grew up in
a prime minister’s family, grew up in the center
of liberal Canada and has a real deep
instinct for what that set of values that I’m saying
that that has been mourned, what they are and what
they mean to Canadians. So we’re in a really
interesting position now where we have a
new prime minister with a large mandate,
a lot of excitement, almost a turning back of time
in terms of sensibility of what it means to be Canadian. But we’re in a whole brand
new world geopolitically, political-economic terms. And so where he goes with this
will be very, very interesting to see. So for those of you who have–
if you’ve been paying attention to environmental politics,
or trade pacts, and whatnot, saying, where’s the
Canada that we thought was to the left of the United
States, maybe it’s back. I’m not entirely sure. But that’s the
impression that I want to offer up in terms of my
experience of this election and how I read the last
three days and its linkage to the last 10 years. So I’ll leave it
at that for now. And I think we’ll go
through our panelists and then we’ll open
up for some questions. JOEL CONNELLY: Good afternoon. I’m grateful for the
opportunity to be here. And in terms of
where to go to get a perspective on the
Canadian election Monday, I would recommend no place
better than Turn Point. Turn Point is the
furthest northwest point on Stuart Island,
which is in turn the further northwest point
in the San Juan Islands. It has an historic lighthouse. Orcas are almost
always seen there. Spectacular sunsets
over Vancouver Island. And it is one of the highlights
of the new San Juan Islands National Monument, recently
designated by President Obama. You might see, about
five times a month, a small oil tanker going through
Haro Strait, between yourself and Vancouver Island, which
is the international boundary, headed for a small refinery–
oil refinery– in Burnaby, just east of Vancouver. Under Stephen Harper’s
vision of Canada– he wanted to make it one of the
world’s major petro powers– you would see 34 tankers a
month going through Haro Strait to and from an oil
refinery in Burnaby. The Harper government had been– not so subtly– promoting two
gargantuan pipeline projects, each one of them bigger than
the Keystone XL pipeline, the first headed north across
northern British Columbia down to Kitimat, where you
would have had a supertanker port created with the
supertankers heading back and forth through a
very, very narrow fjord and on a very treacherous one. The second project is
to triple the capacity of the existing Trans
Mountain pipeline down from Edmonton to Burnaby,
just east of Vancouver, and then taking the oil– they need to find a way of
getting our Alberta tar sands oil to market– taking that overseas through
our very precious waters here with the orcas and through
which millions of salmon swim to get to the Fraser river. And while the Harper
government was advancing both of these pipeline
projects, it also promptly closed the big
Canadian coast Guard station at Kitsilano, a
neighborhood of Vancouver, and began cutting out
lighthouses, cutting Coast Guard staff, and so on. All the while, you had the
pipeline company running TV ads in British Columbia on how
we love the environment too and we’re going to have a
world class clean-up capacity. This doesn’t exactly mesh in
terms of any common sense. But that was the
Harper government. Or as the Canadian– as
the environmental scientist who was forced to
resign for his words put it, to lyrics in a
song called “Harper Man.” I bring this up for the fact
that the government departing wanted to fully
develop the Alberta tar sands not only with
Keystone XL but with the two pipelines coming out
to the west coast, and that these are things
that will have an impact worldwide– impact on
climate, of course; would have a potential major impact on
our coastal waters of British Columbia and Washington. If there was any
type of oil spill, the oil would not
basically turn back in the middle of Haro Strait. And the philosophy
of this government, which was making Canada a petro
power, censoring scientists– government scientists that
were researching climate issues– and as well– and
pretty much all other issues. And a visual image that I think
summarized Harper land, which was one of the
things that they did was they shut down libraries
maintained by the department– Canada’s federal Department
of Fisheries and Oceans across the country. So there was this
memorable picture of all of these books in
garbage bins in Vancouver of– so you not censor
the scientists, you censor the written
word that is already there. And at the same time, you try to
influence National Energy Board procedures to approve
the pipelines. I think we will now
have a different regime. Prime Minister Designate– I
guess you would call him now– Justin Trudeau,
first of all, has deep roots in British Columbia. He has taught school. He’s been a
snowboard instructor. He learned to be
a whitewater river guide on the spectacular
Tatshenshini-Alsek river system in far northwest
British Columbia. So he has roots in
British Columbia. Of course his
mother is from here. Secondly, he has come out
against the Northern Gateway pipeline, the one that
would deposit oil in Kitimat and take it out through
Douglas Channel. I think you’ll likely, where
the Kinder Morgan pipeline is concerned, get an
honest decision rather than one with the
thumb of the political fix on the scales. I think you’re going to see
the Kitsilano Coast Guard station reopened. So elections have consequences. And if you sit out there at
Turn Point with your sweetie, you’ll see that
some of them have– a Canadian election
can have consequences on an American
national monument. I don’t think, frankly,
looking at oil prices and so on, that you will
see those 34 tankers going through a Haro Strait. And I think that’s a net benefit
for this region of the country and probably also
for the climate. As to the outcome of the
election, first of all, you have Trudeaus and
you have Trudeaus. Justin Trudeau’s father,
Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was Canada’s prime minister
1968 to ’79 and 1980 to 1984. A somewhat fearsome
intellectual, somebody who’s– who put people
down and confronted them, creatively most of the time. So you have the famous
episode of him rolling down the window of his
limousine, and looking out at striking postal
workers in Montreal, and saying “mange de la merde.” You have the famous
episode of rolling down the window of his railroad
car at a seminar in British Columbia and extending
a double finger salute to the protesters. You had him at a
meeting in Saskatchewan and asking the farmers why
should I sell your wheat. You have various
things like this. The younger Trudeau is,
however, the mellow Trudeau and basically was
talking about unifying the country, about finding
common interests from ocean, to ocean, to ocean in Canada. The elder Trudeau once
had a majority government in the House of Commons without
a single seat in the Commons– a single Liberal seat– from British Columbia. They had to find man– finally give members of Canada’s
appointed Senate something useful to do,
namely representing British Columbia in
the absence of elected members of parliament. But on Monday, Trudeau won– the Liberals won 17 of
British Columbia’s 44 seats in the House of
Commons, even more than his father did in
the one landslide victory where they did have
a large number. So you’ll have a
major presence in BC– Liberals from BC–
including somebody who has been a senior
cabinet minister in Victoria in the provincial
government and somebody who has been a vice chair of
the assembly of First Nations. An aboriginal Canadian
now represents the newly-created riding
of Vancouver Granville. So he is a reconciling
Trudeau and a Trudeau wanting to knit
the country which has been bitterly divided by
Harper man back together again. Couple of other things. The first socialist premier– of
the first New Democratic Party premier– in British
Columbia, Dave Barrett, used to have a saying
that he would pronounce with every single syllable
this is a sovereign country, trying to illustrate the fact
that it was not simply a branch of the United States. And that is certainly true. The governments of
the two countries have not always gotten together,
not always gotten along. John Kennedy tried to get
the Canadians to accept Bomarc anti-aircraft missiles
to supposedly shoot down Russian bombers headed
for the United States. Prime Minister John
Diefenbaker refused to do so. Diefenbaker was an old, and very
sensitive, and very irascible man. And Kennedy arrived at
a state visit in Ottawa and made a joke about
the marlin hanging from the wall in the
prime minister’s office and asked whether Diefenbaker
had really landed the fish. And then there was
a very tense meeting of which Diefenbaker did not
accept the Bomarc missiles. And Kennedy sent a
note to an aide that was retrieved by the Canadians
later that reportedly said, what do we do with the SOB now? The Kennedy administration
tried damage control and said that the
initials were really OAS for the Organization
of American States. You have had the situation
of Canada’s prime minister, then Lester Pearson, occupying
the traditional role that was just discussed
of peacemaker, giving a speech at Temple
University in Philadelphia calling for the cessation of
the US bombing of North Vietnam and then flying on to Lyndon
Johnson’s ranch in Texas and being grabbed by the
buttonholes with some– with words to the effect of
“you just pissed in my yard.” Johnson was elegant that way. Pierre Trudeau and Richard
Nixon were a study in contrasts. And Nixon– one
of the Nixon tapes had Nixon describing
Trudeau as an asshole. Trudeau’s memorable
response was, I’ve been called worse
things by better men. And the culmination in the last
decade, when the then Liberal premier– prime minister– Jean Chretien
refused to join the US-led coalition that was fighting the
Iraq war and found himself– while Lester Pearson got a
dressing down from Johnson when he went to
Johnson’s ranch, Chretien was disinvited from a visit to
Bush’s ranch near Waco, Texas. So again, there have been
certain clear dustups over the years. And I think Justin Trudeau has
a Western Canada experience. He is part of the outdoors
tradition of the family. And he also, I
think, has a sense of this is a sovereign
country that his father had and that his father asserted
with an independent role for Canada when he
was prime minister. Just a couple of other notes. You have something else
periodic in Canadian politics, namely that the
leftish New Democratic Party is favored at
the start of a campaign to win or to get a
majority of seats. It generally experiences a
tragedy during the campaign. And the NDP went from
103 seats down to 44. But the one area, interestingly,
that resisted the Liberal tide across the country was Vancouver
Island, which returned six New Democrats to the
House of Commons, and Elizabeth May, the
lone Green Party member, who represents Saanich
and the islands, namely, I guess if you look a little
bit north from Turn Point, you can see the– see her
riding in the parliament, and who is a very important
voice when it comes to government secrecy,
government information, and issues like this. So again you have the stubborn–
the far left end of Canada was the far left end in
terms of its voting habits. And British Columbia, in
a way, shows the challenge that Trudeau faces, with 17
members of the New Democratic Party dominating
Vancouver Island, Conservatives dominating the
resource areas where they want the pipeline, and the Liberals
having almost all of the seats in the lower mainland
area around Vancouver, and in Vancouver, and
its immediate suburbs. So you still have something
of a divided country, but at the same time a dynamic,
refreshing, and articulate leader wanting to both restore
the traditions of the country and also create a unity which
has been decidedly absent over the last nine years. The Great White North
will be a far more interesting and hopefully
far better place for him. JOEL PLOUFFE: My name is
Joel and I am Canadian. [LAUGHTER] This is exactly what Dave
was saying a moment ago, is this whole campaign
and the last 10 years was about our identity
and our values that were being put into
question by a very minority part of Canadians
led by the Conservative Party of Canada. An excellent article was
in The Globe and Mail this morning from
Lawrence Martin called Canada’s Stephen
Harper has failed in re-engineering Canada. Because basically this is
what Stephen Harper was trying to do since he got
to power, from two minority governments to in
majority government, is trying to change
the values of Canadians and to create consensus
around those values to then have different
policies that have a big rupture with everything
we had under Liberal governments and Progressive Conservative
governments over the last 50, 60 years. And that is a process that would
take some time to do and that– you cannot do that in 10 years. You need more time to do that. And this was maybe a
very interesting part of our recent history. Because if Stephen
Harper’s government was getting into a new majority,
maybe this new consensus around these new values would
actually become part of policy, reflecting a bit what Joel has
said on environmental issues, on economy, on human rights,
on indigenous populations, on many things that
divide Canadians. We were divided over
the last 10 years by a bipolar government trying
to polarize issues in Canada and really dividing us
across this huge country that needs extreme effort
to bring us together. But now we were being
Balkanized and fragmented a lot across the country
and throughout regions. So basically, those are
maybe just opening remarks. It’s interesting
to be here today because for the last 78 days,
and for the last almost 10 years, we’ve all
felt– and I say that from a very
personal perspective– speaking to nobody, having
interventions in the media, writing policy papers, having
these commissions in Ottawa, and trying to have these
intellectual discussions around policy-making, to find
ideas to create policies that reflect what Dave has said
these values that are contested but bring compromise and bring
coherence in our policy-making. This was completely absent. We were talking to nobody
from an academic perspective. And then from a
policy perspective, you had a very small
group of people who were trying to impose
these values on Canadians in such a big country
where compromise is already difficult to find. But Liberal governments and
Progressive Conservatives had found a way to
make this happen. Nobody is always satisfied
100%, but at least at a 66%, 70% that would work. But this was no
effort coming out of this government
over the last 10 years. It was very ideological. And one way of making things was
the way the Harper government was making things. This government– this former
government I can now say– actually renamed
itself and brand itself as being called
the Harper government. Do not call us the
Canadian government, call us the Harper government. So you would actually have–
and I might have a difficulty in saying re-engineering. There, I can see it now. You know I’m a
francophone, right? English is my second language. But this re-engineering
was basically imposing this
ideology on Canadians. And this was becoming to
be transformed into policy. And mostly on a foreign policy
perspective we can see that. And I can get back to
that in just a moment. So just again to repeat, I’m
coming here and discussing with all of you in
this roundtable forum as a Canadian citizen
that was preoccupied, as an academic that
was preoccupied. Because in democracy,
intellectuals and academics have a role to play in creating
debates and bringing ideas together to inform
policy-makers. And I think nobody
is perfect, but we had this going on in a certain
way in Canada over the years. So this is basically
where I’m coming from. I come from Quebec. I come from eastern Canada– so the other part
of this continent– where politics resemble a bit
what Joel has just mentioned on environmental issues,
on oil extraction, on the role of extractive
industries in our economy, on the future of our economy
based on natural resources. We are a dependent
economy on resources. We are an extractive-based
economy on natural resources– oil, gas, minerals. That is a fact. But we always had
recognized that we need to diversify our economy. And this was not being the
case in the last government. There was always
this famous phrase from NDP leader Mulcair, who
was saying in the debates that Stephen Harper had
always put all of his eggs in the same basket. And now the economy
was failing because of this, because all of
our resources were being– our efforts were being into
the national resources economy. I can continue. And we can discuss all of
the things that happened during the last 10 years. But let me just talk
about three themes here– Quebec, the north,
and foreign policy. Quebec– why Quebec? Because, like we’ve seen
it very, very clearly the other night– and the first email even
before I went on Twitter and I write something,
since I was coming here on Monday or on
Tuesday, yesterday, I wrote to Chuck Harden and
Dave Rossiter and I said, the Liberals have won the east. That was surprising. Not even the NDP were
in my parents’ riding– I’m from New Brunswick, my
family is from New Brunswick– the young NDP there had not
even won in that riding. He should have won. His father was a Godin, he’s
a Godin, he was popular. But no, he did not win. So all of these seats have
been won by the Liberals. And I was sitting with one of
my good friends and colleagues, professor at the University
of Quebec in Montreal. And we were looking at each
other and really saying, OK, this is not going to be
a very common evening. This is going to be
something very different. And it was. And the evening was moving fast. And the whole east
coast was red. It was red, no blue. And these were ridings
where you had a lot of blue in the last elections, a lot
of Conservative and some NDP. DAVID ROSSITER: The
colors are different here. JOEL PLOUFFE: That’s
right, yeah, yeah. [LAUGHTER] DAVID ROSSITER: Flip the colors. JOEL PLOUFFE:
That’s right, yeah. Blue, yeah. Blue is Harper, red is Trudeau. So you had a lot of
Trudeau in the east and the Conservatives
were disappearing. But it all really started
to become concrete when the boxes started
to be opened in Quebec– so from the east coast up to
Quebec and then to Ontario. What Ontario does when you
open the box in the history of Canada, Ontario
can decide if you have a majority or a minority. When Quebec comes in
and the box is opened, it can give you a majority. It can give you power too. So this is what happened
the other night– Quebec boxes were opened and we
have now a majority government that was being formed. Very early in the
evening, that was crazy. I had watched just
a couple of hours before the evening a
newscast about five minutes on the French CBC, the
French public Radio, had put together this newscast
on previous governments, elections, evenings, and
how usually around 10:30 PM we could announce if we’ll
have a majority government, will be formed by a
Liberal government or by a Conservative government. And that usually
happens around 10:15 because of when the time zones,
and when the boxes are opened in the east, and all of this. And then all these
calculations are made. And then we were already at 9:15 It was 9:14 and 42 seconds. I remember on the network
called TVA, a French network, it was 9:14 and 42 seconds
and the broadcaster says, we can announce that the next
government will be formed by the Liberal government. Now we didn’t know it was going
to be majority or minority. And then the Ontario
boxes were opened and we knew we had a majority. Anyways, Quebec has a role to
play in the electoral process. Also as you know,
and Dave did mention, Quebec also has a very different
story, a very different history than the rest of Canada. And we have a very important
political movement in Quebec, which is the one that seeks to
create an independent country, an independent Quebec. And in the federal
government, you have a political party called
the Bloc Quebecois, which is a political party that
represents Quebec interests in the federal government. And this party has been having
troubles in the last election. It had lost almost all of
its seats with, I think, two, or three, or– maybe two or three. The actual leader
had lost his seat. But what happened
really recently before the elections
were launched, the leader of this party was– who had lost his seat,
who had even resigned, who was usually popular
resigned because he has lost– saw the NDP– so
the orange party– become more important
in Quebec and said, maybe this is an opportunity
for the Bloc Quebecois to come back. And maybe they need me. And the party said OK. They automatically named him
again leader of this party. And he came back into
the political campaign and now started to
divide votes in Quebec. So you had at least a three
leaders debate going on in Quebec between
the Bloc Quebecois, between the Liberals, and
between the Conservative Party. So it was very, very
difficult to understand what the last minute
results were going to be. Never in our mind would it
have been the Liberal Party that would have taken away all
of the seats of Quebec, which is the case today except
for some NDPs and some Bloc Quebecois, which
was very surprising. So that was really interesting. How is the feeling
now today in Quebec? Well, it’s all about
not having power– Harper in power. It’s trying to try have more
environmentally-friendly policies. We mentioned the
pipelines a while ago. That’s an issue also in Quebec. And one of the campaign lines
of the leader of the Bloc Quebecois was
always Quebec is not a highway for pipelines
of oil and we should not have these in Quebec. And there is a strong
population– opinion in Quebec that does not want
these pipelines being built in Quebec. But that’s another issue. We’re still in
the honeymoon now. We all think we’ll
have no more pipelines. And the liberals
are going to like– you pretend that the
extractive industries don’t exist in Alberta,
that that’s not true. That’s going to change
in a couple of weeks. But I think there’s
a lot of hope now in seeing some
kind of change. Also maybe, ending on Quebec,
is having a Quebec’s voice back into government. A lot of Quebec MPs
have been elected and will be represented in the
Trudeau government, notably the second biggest
city in Canada, which is Montreal, which
will find its place back into government. Maybe end on these
two themes and then we’ll have time for questions– I’m really looking forward
to your questions– the question of the
north and the Arctic, which was an interest in
Canada’s election campaign, is– at some time and some periods
is having northern issues, again into the whole
debates, mostly based on indigenous rights in
northern parts of Canada, in the provinces,
and in the Arctic also; on economic
development; and also on the role of northerners
in Canadian policy-making. All of the conservatives
who were elected in the northern territories of
Canada have lost their seats and now have been replaced
by the Liberal government. So we can see some changes there
on the domestic policy-making. Because Trudeau’s
new approach, which is completely different
than Harper’s approach, is to bring the provinces
and the territories back into the
policy-making in Canada. Stephen Harper wanted to
decentralize policy-making and leave the
provinces do their own. Well, the provinces
don’t want to do that. Because something that Jean
Charest, former Quebec premier, once said– it is the provinces
that run the country. And the federal government needs
to work with the provinces. Because the provinces
have so many competencies, from
environmental issues, to education, to
natural resources. The Canada you know today, and
that you knew since federation, cannot operate without the
cooperation of the provinces. You had no cooperation
with the provinces under the Harper government. So Trudeau is bringing that
back and wants to bring the territories– which are
the northern territories in Canada– into the whole discussion. That could be very interesting. Foreign policy-wise
for the Arctic, we are walking into COP 21,
the United Nations climate change discussions going
on in Paris in December. Canada has a very bad
reputation on climate change and on initiatives
about climate change. Has always repeated
to the whole world that it had all these
ambitions on climate change but that was not the fact. So Canada is trying to get back
to its climate change image and to work with other countries
in finding a solution at COP 21 in December. And maybe just end because maybe
I’ve talked a bit too long. But the idea of foreign policy,
Dave was very clear on that. Canada had an image in the
world before Stephen Harper, a very positive image. That is always a
contested thing. It depends who you are
and how you see Canada. But basically, the
image comes back to what I said at the
beginning– my name is Joel and I am Canadian, and what
David said on having a flag, and putting that
on your backpack, and traveling around the
world, and feeling safe because certain values were
communicated by Canada. Canada has never
been a superpower, will not be a
superpower, has never had the ambition
of becoming one, but had a clear
role in the world, was always a diplomat,
was doing diplomacy. And that’s an art. You cannot just pretend
to do diplomacy. Stephen Harper had a very– way
of doing foreign policy like he did Canadian domestic policy,
with saying this is good and this is bad, you are
my friend you are my enemy. Russia had been our
allies for years and years and overnight became our enemy. No nuance here, like
the United States had. We need to work with Medvedev– not Medvedev, Lavrov–
and work with Russia in trying to work our way
out of the Ukrainian crisis. Canada’s position was we don’t
want to work with Russia. The door is closed. We’re not friends anymore. Same thing with other
issues around the world. So that was very difficult for
us on a foreign policy scale to try to have a very
positive image in the world. So that will probably
change with the Trudeau. Maybe just a last
word– and that was underlined by both of
my colleagues here, by Dave and Joel– is we have a
new prime minister now that is– looks very different
than other prime ministers of Canada. And it’s very interesting
reading Twitter in the last 24, 48 hours. Very interesting
things going on. And today it was is Trudeau
the only prime minister in the world who has a tattoo? Is the most good
looking prime minister– male prime minister– in
the world or state leader in the world? So from a very– and I know
this isn’t a very big anecdote, but still, it just
shows how people are ready to hear Canada again. And people are ready
to find this image and find the role of
Canada on the world scale again into being more
constructive and proactive. I’ve been getting a lot
of emails from my friends around the world saying,
welcome back to the world scene. And that’s important. Because we do have
a role to play. And I think we’ve lost
it in the last years. So, yeah. ULRICH SCRAML: OK, thank you. You guys have questions. I’m going to collect them. Just to give you one
to start off with, I was soliciting questions
from my colleagues on campus as well. And so we have heard about
Trudeau now a little bit. Besides embodying the
emotional response of the former government,
being handsome, being a snowboard
instructor, what do you think is he bringing to the office? It’s a question for all of you. JOEL CONNELLY: I
think Brian Mulroney, a former Conservative
prime minister, probably summed it
up best in talking about Pierre Trudeau
and Justin Trudeau, saying the apple does not
fall far from the tree, namely that some– many of his father’s
values are embodied in the new prime
minister, which is a. And Pierre Trudeau
had a philosophy of liberalism, which essentially
is that the government’s obligation is to create the
circumstances under which every individual in society– rich, poor, aboriginal, French
Canadian, or English Canadian, or Chinese Canadian– can
achieve to the maximum level of that person’s ability. It’s a liberalism that
stopped short of attempting to dictate the outcome, namely
a certain number of people from each category
in [INAUDIBLE], but essentially
creating the opportunity and equalizing the scales. That is, I think, the
essential liberalism of the Trudeau family. And essentially, it involves
a role of government. It revolves a government
being an equalizer– an equalizer for people and
an equalizer for regions. And this, of course,
is completely antithetical to the
Harper philosophy, which stressed a great
deal of individualism and which stressed that
people should free themselves from government help. How in certain circumstances
you do that, he never explained. DAVID ROSSITER: One thing that
strikes me as being brought to the table by the
new prime minister– and actually something that
might be well shared with the outgoing prime minister– is a level of discipline
and a level of toughness that seems to really mark
Justin Trudeau’s character. By that, I want to give
a contrast to his father. It’s been intimated
on the stage here and I think it very much is
true that Pierre Trudeau was somewhat of a
towering intellect. Whether you agreed with him
or not, he was a philosopher, he was a legal scholar. His works were published,
and are still read, and had quite a major role in
the cultural/scholarly life of Quebec and Canada
in the 1960s and ’70s as he transitioned
into politics. I think it’s fair to say that
his son does not follow him in that regard. I’m not saying that
the man is not bright. But he is not a
towering intellect. I don’t think you need to
be to be a prime minister. His father, though, was
also extraordinarily disciplined and tough. And by that I mean have
a plan, a challenge, map out how to meet
that challenge, and be dogged in
chasing it down. And I do think that
Justin Trudeau brings that to the table. And I think that’s necessary
given the sunny optimism that he’s brought back
to federal politics and the realities
that he’s going to crash into, whether it be
climate change negotiations, provincial-federal relations. A certain amount of discipline,
toughness, and follow-through will be necessary. And I think what got Canadians
thinking this might be the case is a little episode
that probably was the start of
Justin Trudeau’s rise. He’s a boxer. His father was a boxer. And Justin Trudeau
likes to go and spar on weekends and whatnot. And I think it was about two
years ago now, something like– JOEL PLOUFFE: About, yeah. DAVID ROSSITER: A Conservative
aboriginal senator, who is also a boxer
and a tough guy, Patrick Brazeau, and Justin
Trudeau decided to both sign themselves up for a charity
boxing match and they would go at each other. And this was to raise money
and it would be good publicity. Justin Trudeau had just
taken over the leadership of the Liberal Party. And all of those wanting to see
the Conservative senator win were snickering like
this pretty boy is doing this for publicity, and
he’s going to get into the ring and get his pretty
nose bloodied, and won’t that be fun. And there was a
whole bunch of grins on that side of the
aisle, shall we say. Apparently, just beforehand,
Senator Patrick Brazeau said to a reporter
on deck, I don’t think Justin Trudeau
can take a punch. Take that metaphorically,
if you like. Well, Justin Trudeau
knocked this guy out– who took probably
50 pounds on him– knocked him out in
the first round, knocked him down,
bloodied his nose. And right across Canada,
political watchers or not, everyone is sort of, whoah. That was not the
expected outcome. And I think that sits
as a bit of a metaphor for the personality. It’s not an intellectual battle
that this guy is going to wage. But he– there’s a
determination and an ability to overcome perceptions
and challenges that I think has been shown
to just be quite remarkable. Because two months
ago no one would have predicted this outcome. And so it’ll of interesting to
see how those characteristics drive down the road as it really
starts to get nitty-gritty. JOEL PLOUFFE: It’s interesting
that you bring that up. Because even that in
Quebec perspective– you need to understand that
in Quebec the Trudeaus have– are not very popular. They’ve never been popular. The Liberal Party of Canada
has never been very popular in Canada because the
Liberal Party of Canada is the Federalist
party of Canada. In Quebec, you
have, like I said, the sovereigntist
independence movement. And there’s never been
a good relationship between the separatists–
or the independentists– and the federal Liberal
Party of Canada. So whatever would happen with
Trudeau at the federal level might have some impact
somewhere in Canada. But back in Quebec, we
would not look at that and we’d forget about it. And that’s why the results
today are surprising. Because Trudeaus
are not popular. I give you an example. When the former prime minister
of Canada, Jean Chretien, was in power,
before he left power he renamed the Montreal
airport Trudeau International to recognize his good
relationship with former Prime Minister Trudeau. And this really shocked the
media, the public opinion in Canada, saying that this
is like a slap in the face from Chretien to the
Quebec sovereigntists– independentists–
because now he’s creating this federalist
identity of this big airport that gives the
identity of Quebec around the world as
being a federalist Quebec and all these issues
going around that. So it gives you an
idea how Trudeaus are not very liked in Quebec. So again, that’s why
it’s surprising to see how he is now like today. He’s got popularity
for many reasons. He’s very popular
in his writing. I remember seeing him
about three years ago. So in Quebec, we have– our
national holiday is June 24. And in his writing, he was– and this is how– brings me down, I wrote
this down a while ago– a very different approach
to a policy probably. We’ll have to see. But just hanging around at
this big party, street party with people, dressed
up in his cowboy suit with his cowboy hat, having
his beer, walking around. I was just watching him. And this line dancing
country music was playing. And I never really
liked the person– I can say that. I didn’t like the
image and all of this. And I was looking at him. I was like, why
is he doing this? And it was very interesting. He was walking up to
all these old people, and walking with them,
and dancing with them, would grab kids and
dance with kids. And we’re like, oh, he must
be intoxicated or something, I don’t know. But he was having fun. And it was sincere. And I think that’s
Trudeau’s force. There is– I have
all these anecdotes. But in one of the debates, in
the French language debates on the French television,
at a certain point he was asked a question by– in French by the Bloc
Quebecois leader. And he was like anybody
else a bit nervous and a bit sentimental
during that discussion. And he was so wanting to
answer to this question. And he, instead
of saying, “I will answer to you, my
colleague,” and he said, “I will answer you, my love.” But in Fench you need
to understand that– mon amour– he wanted
to say mon collegue, but he said mon amour. It just came out naturally. And just naturally said, well,
you know, me and my wife today, we were talking. And so sincere, complete
opposite of the cold personage that we had
with Stephen Harper. Maybe quickly on the office–
and this is important, I guess, for the students
who study Canada. We don’t have a
Congress in Canada. We have elections and then we
have a majority government. And when a majority government
is elected for four years, you can practically adopt
any policy you want– domestic, foreign. That’s a great
privilege that you have. And there is a huge
issue that we have never addressed in Canada since
the Trudeau years, Trudeau the father, is the
centralization of power in the prime minister’s office. It started under the
Trudeau father years and has continued to be
more centralized since. There is a great article from– I think– August or September in
The Globe and Mail by Professor Donald Savoie from the
University of Moncton in New Brunswick who actually says this
is the issue we need to talk about, how decisions are
going to be made in the prime minister’s office, the level
of accountability also– how can you be accountable
for the decisions you make in the prime
minister’s office. So I think before knowing if– what will be– what will
happen, what kind of policies will we see, what
kind of policy-making, what kind of style will
come out of Trudeau. And again, I do believe
something is different here. I remember some
commentators saying Generation X is now
in power in Ottawa– this is the first time. Interesting, he’s 43 years old. The first thing he does
yesterday morning in Montreal was to take his bus– his campaign bus– to park it
in front of this metro in his riding– the subway, the
underground– and to go into the underground with the
Secret Service people around and to say thank
you to everybody. We had never seen that
before in Canadian politics. So something– different
approaches is emerging. And I think that’s
the whole optimism that we’re living now in this
beginning of the honeymoon. ULRICH SCRAML: Thank you. So we have lots of
different questions. Some general election questions,
I think we’ll start with those. But also pipeline questions,
economic questions. We’ll see. Let’s start– I think Dave might
be able to answer that best, but it’s open to
anybody, of course. What does an election
ballot look like in Canada? Are voters choosing
a party or a person for the legislature or
more than one person? DAVID ROSSITER:
I’ll take that one because I have an eight-year-old
son who, bless his heart, thinks this is the greatest
stuff in the world. I’ve been explaining
this stuff to him. And so we took him voting
and we showed him this. So you guys who experienced
the hanging chad and all the electronic
computing voting stuff will love how we do it. It’s paper and pencil. And you walk into the gym
of your local high school, or elementary
school, or wherever the polling station that you’ve
been assigned to go to is. And there are some
nice people that meet you there
who are volunteers who work for Elections Canada. And this year, actually,
we had a nice long line– just a little aside. Our voter turnout rate
was just shy of 69%, which is pretty good. We were 61% last election
and 58% the one before. So you can see that there was
some interest in this one. So you go to your polling
station on the day. Or you can do early balloting. But I did on the day. And you line up, you go show
your identification and voter registration card to
the person at the desk. They gave you a paper
ballot and explain that you need to put
an x beside a name who also has the party– does
it have the party beside it? No it doesn’t. Just the name– no, it
has the party beside it– the name with the
party affiliation for your particular riding. So you are voting. JOEL PLOUFFE: It’s circles. DAVID ROSSITER: It is in circles
and you do an x or a check mark with your pencil. And so you are voting for your
representative in your riding. So you do that little check
mark, you fold the ballot up, and then you go and look at
the person who’s the volunteer. And they say, well done, and
you put it into the little slit in the cardboard box. And then they say, on your way. And then the next person
goes and does the same thing. And those boxes are collected
throughout the evening and people count them
by hand, and tally, and send in the results
to the central offices. And the results are rolling
in and pretty much 99% known by midnight, 1:00
AM, something like that. And we’ve got a
population that’s about the size of California. So we’re talking 35
million in total. That makes it about 25, 26
million eligible voters. So not nearly as many folks– 10 times more in the
United States to deal with. But a very old-fashioned,
simple system. And in my lifetime
really hasn’t resulted– that I can think of– any
kind of debacles like Florida in 2000. It’s pretty simple. ULRICH SCRAML: Thank you. And there’s a
follow-up question too. Does this affect why
polls aren’t too accurate? I think I read polls
aren’t clear in predicting the prime minister. JOEL PLOUFFE: Maybe just– I’ll let you guys maybe
talk about the polls, because there have been polls
every day for the last 78 days and none predicted what
happened the other night. Maybe on the first question, the
idea that we vote for a person or for the– somebody in our riding or
for the prime minister, we don’t vote for
the prime minister. But there is a theory here
that during this last campaign people did vote for
the prime minister. I think we can see
that in Quebec. Quebec, this– we’re not even
talking about the [INAUDIBLE] of red, we’re talking about
a tsunami of red in Quebec is not based on voting for the
person who will represent you in the House of Commons, these
seats that will then become the majority of government. And then you have the
government that you have. People actually voted for
the image for the Liberal Party of Canada and
not for the person that will represent them in Ottawa. And that could have
some consequences also. There could be a lot
of deception here too. You can have in some ridings–
for example, in my riding, where you had the leader of
the Bloc that should have– could have won, there
was the opportunity that the Liberal
Party would have won. And I had never
known of this person. I don’t know where
this person came from. But this person was
leading in the polls during the last minutes
of the evening, which was very disturbing for
somebody who is very involved in local politics. You say, well, who
is this person, will they be able to
deliver and represent well the riding in the
federal government? JOEL CONNELLY: Let me– if you are able to endure any of
America’s Sunday political talk shows, you see the
Republicans fumbling around over who’s going to
be the House Speaker and talking about the Democrats
possibly playing a role. The Democrats currently
have 188 seats in the US House of
Representatives, which is as lousy a
showing they’ve had, I think, in about
70 or 75 years. But far greater
swings occur in Canada and occur quite suddenly. In the 1993 election, the
Progressive Conservative Party, which had been in
power for eight years, went from 143 seats in
the House of Commons to 2. The new Democrats governing
British Columbia in 2001 when they faced the music
went from 39 seats to 2. In this current election,
the New Democrats federally went from 103 seats down to 44. There are sea changes. And quite often it perhaps
operates like a tsunami where you have a
bump in the ocean and then when the– and
when it hits the shore, a great wave crests. And this, of course, is
difficult for the pollsters. A couple of them polling in
the last weekend this time got it right. But there are some
famous attempts– the New Democrats
were supposed to win in British Columbia in 2013. They lost. The Liberals were supposed
to lose in Ontario in 2014. They won. And they New Democrats came from
nowhere in conservative Alberta up to form the
government in 2015. So again, you have
waves cresting and political parties that
can be pretty much wiped out. And they recover and so on. But how did it feel to be
one of two conservatives left in the House of Commons or
one of two New Democrats left in the British
Columbia legislature? A little lonely. ULRICH SCRAML: Dave. DAVID ROSSITER: One thing that I
think the polls did get right– or that you can see now that we
know the result what they were doing– was if you looked across time at
the trend lines for each party and what the pollsters
were finding. They may not have been perfectly
accurate in their percentage and how they divvied
up among the parties. But you can see these
moments in the campaign when the Syrian
refugee crisis hit, when a few other
moments came along where party fortunes changed. And it’s very, very clear
that in the last month– but particularly two weeks– the Liberal line
starts to kick up. And it’s that tsunami. You could start to
see evidence for it. And I think a lot of
folks like myself– and I’ve laid my politics bare
to you in terms of where I would prefer things to head
on a political trend line– I think a lot of folks
like me started to say, this is interesting,
this looks like it’s going to be quite an
interesting liberal onslaught, but couldn’t bring
ourselves to say it, that there was a
real conservative– in the small c sense– unwillingness to make
these big predictions as to potential massive change. It was clear though, once the
boxes were opened– never heard that phrase before– boxes
opened meaning the polls opened and start counting them up. So the trend lines, I
think, were fairly accurate. I think the pollsters woke
up on Tuesday feeling decent. And they haven’t been
the last couple of years. JOEL PLOUFFE: And maybe another
factor explaining all of this we mentioned– you did since the
start of your talk while ago– 78 days, the longest campaign. Still, longest campaign,
where all of these candidates had 78 days to try ideas, to
test ideas, and to be known. And Canadian population had
a chance to discover Trudeau, had a possibility to discover
other things about Harper, or about Tom Mulcair,
or about Elizabeth May, so these new leaders,
these big leaders. And also, just a couple of
days before the elections, we had the Canadian Thanksgiving
weekend, a long weekend, where you had a turnout voting
by anticipation that had record numbers in Canadian history. And also a lot of
discussions in family probably around the outcomes
of the elections coming up. So this is hard to
prove scientifically, but it should be something that
is taken into consideration to try to understand this
tsunami of the other day. ULRICH SCRAML: Maybe we
should have our next elections after Thanksgiving too. Turkey exchanges. Another question that’s
collected somehow to what we already talked about– why are some elections
longer than others? What can the US
learn from Canada about limiting campaign lengths? A lot, I would think. But you guys? JOEL CONNELLY: In
the United States, John Kennedy was
able to announce for president in the year in
which he was elected president. Now it is considered
that if you announce any time less than 20
months before the election, you are a laggard. And now 13 months before
the 2016 election Joe Biden is saying that there
wasn’t time left. Like everything– from National
Football League schedules and so on– our elections grow. And every time the–
one of the parties tries to move things
a little later or to move things in a more
compact way, it doesn’t work. And it’s one thing– well, again, Brian Mulroney
once said something to the effect of there’s nothing
like a hanging in the morning to focus the mind. There’s nothing like a 29 day
provincial election campaign to force people to focus. Nothing like what used to be,
say, a 58 day federal election campaign. It requires focus
and it has yielded– except for a couple of
dull recent elections– a percentage– a turnout
percentage substantially higher than the United States. DAVID ROSSITER: I guess to
answer the question might be– it might be useful
to say we’re talking apples and oranges here. I think that’s
something that really is important Canadians
and Americans to know in terms of why one so
long the other so short. First, Canadians do not have
a prime ministerial election. You guys have a
presidential election. Canada elects a
parliament, full stop. We have gotten used to the
idea that the prime minister is the person is going to
be in the driver’s seat. And so everyone thinks
about who that will be, and who is the leader of the
party, whose representative I might send to Ottawa–
because ultimately that’s going to end up being the boss. But Canada elects a parliament. And the way that a parliament
goes into being elected– or into [INAUDIBLE]– and
asks for the dissolving of parliament. Once that happens,
the government is now just a
caretaking government and has just the
duty to take care of any emergencies of
state but otherwise hands off any new legislative
initiatives. And there’s a minimum
period– it’s about 29 days– that the writ is. So the writ is the period
in which the election is going to happen. So government basically
stops functioning. And the longer the
campaign that you call, the longer that’s the condition. So it’s very, very different
from the American system, wherein we don’t
elect prime ministers. And we do, like Joel said, start
to think culturally that way. But the entire
system is actually set up– if you look at
the Constitution of Canada, the system is set
up in such a way that the prime minister is
very muted in all the rules. It’s only just through tradition
that the prime minister has risen to the very prominent
and high profile role. But there’s a saying,
which I think is beautiful and we need to keep in mind,
that the prime minister is the first among equals,
is the first minister within the cabinet, which
is all the ministers. And that person only
becomes the prime minister because they’re the
leader of a party, not because Canadians decide
let’s have a big election and decide who we
want our leader to be. So those very different
aspects of the two systems contribute to the
different lengths. I’m no expert on
American systems. And I’m sure there
are many other ways of thinking about it. But we are talking
apples and oranges. AUDIENCE: Who calls
the length of it? DAVID ROSSITER: It is
the prime minister. The governor general does, but
at the prime minister’s advice. JOEL CONNELLY: And the prime
minister or the premier decides when to
call the election. So you can have a very unpopular
government for three years but then it sees a window
when it can get re-elected. And the prime minister
or the premier can then jump and
call the election. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]. He got the right [INAUDIBLE]. DAVID ROSSITER: He has the right
to advise the governor general that that’s what should happen. And the governor general can
or cannot take that advice. If does not take that
advice, it becomes quite a little constitutional crisis. And this has very rarely
happened in Canada. The governor– AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]. ULRICH SCRAML: So it’s basically
based on the British system. Remember, Margaret–
Maggie Thatcher was always very good
choosing her election dates to be staying in government. DAVID ROSSITER: Yes, precisely. ULRICH SCRAML: Another
question related to elections. What about spending
and super PACs. Is Canada better about limiting
spending in the election? JOEL PLOUFFE: I was just going
to comment on the last question on the idea of spending. One of the arguments
that tried to prove why Stephen Harper called
these elections for 78 was that the Conservative
Party of Canada had a lot more money than all
of the rest of the parties. There is a new law
that was passed by the Conservative government
that political parties are no longer publicly funded. So you have to find more private
funding for your campaigns. And it’s a fact that the
Conservative government had a lot more
money at last summer than the other parties,
who are less organized. But was that actually
a determining point in the campaign? I don’t think so. I don’t think because
Stephen Harper had more money that he won. Because he didn’t win– it’s not money that defined the
end result of this election. I think there was one
very important factor during this election that some
say was imported by the US, actually– not since Harper was there, but
even before Harper was there– is very negative campaigns. And this campaign has
been very negative, and very based on fear,
and very dividing. And maybe that was one of the
factors that led to Canadians not wanting this kind of fear
following them in Canada. ULRICH SCRAML:
But no super PACs. There’s nobody
collecting money or– DAVID ROSSITER: There are. There are civil society groups
that can do the same thing. But it’s nowhere near
on the same scale. Nowhere near. ULRICH SCRAML: Let’s switch
over to the environment. From a strictly
economic standpoint, how would an increasing presence
as a major petroleum player affect Canada’s economy? And along those lines, besides
disrupting the environmental– the environment, the orcas, how
would the disputed pipelines negatively affect Canada? JOEL CONNELLY: First of all,
you can have an oil spill, which the Canadian Coast Guard
is completely unequipped– this from a report by
former senior officials in the shipping
industry– to handle. Secondly, if there
were an oil spill in Haro Strait or something
that was the polluted waters of the Gulf Islands and
the San Juan Islands, the Fraser River just
north of us is one of the– if not the– world’s
greatest single sockeye salmon-producing river. Some of the salmon come
down Johnstone Strait. Other of them– others
swing around into the Strait of Juan de Fuca,
up through Haro, up through Rosario Straits, and
into the mighty Fraser River. So there is potentially damage
to the fisheries economy, something we saw last year
when you had a major mine disaster in British Columbia
that dumped a whole millions and millions of gallons of
contaminated water and tailings into the Quesnel-Horsefly
River system, which is where one of the great
salmon runs resides. As to the economic
question, the question is a very interesting
one because one of the knocks on Harper
was that he put economic– Canada’s economic
development eggs in the basket of
perfecting and increasing the production of the
Alberta tar sands– essentially, too many
eggs in the basket of oil at a time when oil has gone– the price of oil is
basically halved. And so that while you had
thousands of people flocking to northern Alberta to work
in the Alberta oil sands, you now have them flocking
back to Nova Scotia, flocking back to
Newfoundland, and so on now that the price has gone down
and now that oil exploration projects are being, at the
very least, put on hold. So you have an economic–
an environmental objection– you’re putting more carbon
into the atmosphere and so on. But you also have the
economic objection that– namely that too much of the
emphasis of the government was being put on fossil
fuel resource development without understanding the
potential economic peril– and certainly, if you
look across Haro Strait, the potential
environmental peril. DAVID ROSSITER: To
follow on that, I think part of the
question was how would oil drive Canada’s
economy, or does it, or something along those lines. The quick answer
is it already does. Canada is the biggest energy
supplier to the United States of any energy supplier
from a sovereign nation. Canada has the second largest
proven carbon-based energy reserves in the world
after Saudi Arabia. Its about 16% of
the Canadian economy is direct jobs and activity
around the oil and gas industry. So we’re talking a major,
major, major driver of the Canadian economy already. And just as Joel said,
Stephen Harper’s mission was to make Canada
an energy superpower. You said that Canada will
never be a superpower. That was one way
in which the vision was that it might become so. So that’s part of the equation. And another part, to answer
the question on what’s the negatives or some of the
consequences of pipelines. In British Columbia
in particular, and the Northern Gateway
pipeline project, which I think is now
off the table according to the new prime minister,
there is a very major problem– issue– to be confronted
that is larger than just pipelines and
that everyone in the room should be familiar with,
and that is aboriginal land claims in British Columbia. British Columbia is in
the very strange position in Canada of not holding
stable title to about 95% of the province. Without giving you
all the gory details, commitments by the crown– empire, England, ultimately
the government of Canada– towards aboriginal
peoples in terms of making treaty in lands
that the crown wanted to claim were never followed through
upon in British Columbia. And we are now– right
now– in the case where the Supreme Court
and lower levels of courts have mandated governments to
solve the question of title, meaning there isn’t
a stable crown claim and that aboriginal
claims to sovereignty and full title and ownership
of lands in British Columbia is on the table and
hasn’t been settled. What this means is, in
essence, it’s not a veto, but it’s darn close
that First Nations hold on non-treaty territory in BC. The entire Northern Gateway
pipeline path was on– or is, if it’s
still on the table– non-treatied
aboriginal-claim lands. And the necessity of engaging
with those First Nations to get permission to
carry out such a project was never taken seriously
by the previous government. The incoming government has made
very strong noises and signals as to wanting to deal with this
in an honorable and fulsome fashion. They did actually
elect eight Liberal MPs that were First Nations, two
also that were NDP First Nation MPs for the first time. So this question of social
justice territory sovereignty is as much a part of
the pipeline discussion as is environmental
despoliation. ULRICH SCRAML: Yes. While the Northern Gateway
obviously is off the table, as you mentioned,
how about– isn’t Trudeau in favor of
the Keystone Pipeline? What’s his– JOEL CONNELLY: Yes. ULRICH SCRAML: –point on that? Want to elaborate on it? JOEL CONNELLY: One of
the interesting things, and why certain people in the
oil patch up there are perhaps a little bit hopeful, was
that Harper’s way of promoting Keystone Pipeline was
very heavy-handed– lectures to the United States,
obviously impatient with our– impatience with our procedures. The great Dave Barrett
line on Canadian government was once that when
the queen calls you, she gives you the
whole bag, namely that with the legislative
and executive as one, you can move decisively. But in the United
States, of course, you have procedures
which can be– as has been deliberately
the case with the Obama administration– drawn out
on the Keystone Pipeline. So what you are now
going to have is a warmer and fuzzier advocacy of
the Keystone Pipeline by the new prime minister And
the new prime minister possibly doing– deploying some
bargaining chips, saying that there are worse pipelines,
namely the ones come– the proposals for the pipelines
coming out to the west coast– that I am cool to and one
of which that I’m canceling. But the Keystone XL
runs almost entirely on land except when
it’s going under rivers, and that it is more benign
then other proposals for getting Alberta’s
oil to water. It’ll be interesting to see how
intensely he proceeds on this. But the approach is likely to
be very different than Harper’s. JOEL PLOUFFE: And
maybe one of his cards that he has to get out of
the politics of Keystone and all of the
pipelines is something that happened during
the campaign that was very interesting. All of the parties were– the NDP and the Conservative
Party of Canada– have continually been saying
that we will be running these promises on zero deficit. And the Liberal Party of
Canada said we need deficits, we will have small deficits
for the next years. Why? Because we need to
relaunch our economy. We need to get the
eggs in the basket. We need to diversify
our economy. We need to reinvest in
infrastructure in this country and create jobs
around infrastructure. This is one of the major
elements in this campaign where he was completely different
than all of the other parties. This was a risk. But some say that it worked. And people are
interested in this. Joel did mention that a lot
of workers from the oil sands are from the east
coast of Canada. And probably one of the
reasons why the red– the Liberal Party
of Canada– did win a lot of votes in east
coast is because a lot of them are coming back home
without any jobs. And that probably
reinventing the economy and having more money
into infrastructure across the country
will create jobs and might be more interesting
for the electorate. So that’s important
when you think about the future
of Canada’s economy that is less dependent
on extracting oil from Alberta or from other
areas of the country. ULRICH SCRAML: It probably
also mean raising taxes. That’s something that is
very unpopular in America, I can tell you that. But obviously, your
voters accepted that. JOEL PLOUFFE: We also see it
in northern Canada in the three territories which are– regions that are extremely
dependent on mineral activities, extractive
activities there, and future oil and gas prospects
just here north in the Beaufort Sea. And mostly in the east
also– in the archipelago, the Canadian Arctic
Archipelago– is oil and gas development,
future development on that, and jobs for a younger
population that is without a future. And that’s exactly how we
should be framing this. There is no diversification
of the economies in the north, in the far north. So all of these electors
who had the choice to vote blue or red– so the
Conservatives or Liberals– who had been promised all
of these new policies, new economic investments for the
last 10 years actually said no. These were promises. We’re not seeing the results. And what we do need
in northern Canada are infrastructure
to having access to these new regions for oil
and gas development extraction probably, and
mineral activities, which are part of the northern
economies like the north– the provinces of Canada. We do talk a lot about
oil and gas in Canada. But the mining
industry– industries across provinces of
Canada has always been huge for our economy. And that is not disappearing. And to pretend that this
will disappear eventually is just being a bit naive
on the economy of Canada. But new environmental
regulation needs to be adapted all the time. ULRICH SCRAML: Thank you. Will Trudeau take over before
the climate change conference in Paris? And how will that change
Canada’s participation? DAVID ROSSITER: Yes he will. It looks like November 4 is when
the cabinet and government is going to be sworn in. So that will be officially
when they’re on the game. And so that conference is a few
weeks after that, I believe. Trudeau said during
the election– he was pressed on it
by a reporter or two– that he was not going
to set Canada’s target during the election. Some really pilloried him
for that from the Green Party and the NDP who said we need
aggressive targets articulated now and let’s move forward. Trudeau’s reasoning was–
and I am sympathetic with it; I’m, I suppose being
optimistic and this was his truthful, not
cynical, reasoning– was that we need to sit down
with our provincial partners who will actually have to
carry the water on a lot of the policy and see
what’s actually going on in the books and the
government that’s been left behind before we can set any
real achievable constructive policy. Any other numbers I gave you
in terms of reduction targets right now are just
political numbers and we’ve had enough
of that in Canada. He can maybe get away with that
line because in Canada for 15 to 20 years– from pre-Kyoto,
to Kyoto, to post-Kyoto– the governor of Canada has set
as a whole series of targets– x% below 1990, and then
2000, and 2005 levels– and has never even come
close to meeting them. And so perhaps he is
being wise in telegraphing that he wants to work
internationally, work within the Canadian federation,
and be a constructive partner at the table next month. I believe that. What I can say unequivocally
is that he will go with a team to those meetings
and he will not act as a wrench in the works. Because that is what
the Canadian delegations to these conferences have been. They’ve been actively trying to
weaken and scuttle agreements. This will not be the case. Whether there is a drive towards
some Canadian position that’s really awesome, that’s to be–
of course that’s to be seen. But there’ll be a
willingness to engage and be productive that hasn’t
been there for the last decade. JOEL CONNELLY: I think
he’s first of all going to have to bring himself up. In the United States, you
can get elected president on the 4th of November
and then you don’t get sworn in until January 20. In Canada, and Britain,
and so on, the queen gives you the whole
bag immediately, which means he has to do a G20
summit conference in India, as I recall, and also
the conference in Paris. There’s also the matter
of getting up to speed. I have a wonderful– and I’ll
try to do it real quick– story. I was hiking in the Canadian
Rockies a couple of years ago and went up to two great
glorious places, Parker Ridge and Wilcox Pass. Parker Ridge looks down on
the Saskatchewan Glacier, the largest glacier in the
Canadian– in the Columbia Icefields. From Wilcox Pass you see the
Athabasca Glacier and the Dome Glacier. All of them have retreated
dramatically, even within my lifetime. So I came back just hot to
do a global warming piece and what the consequences are
of this great repository of ice that feeds two great rivers
that cross the Canadian prairies and are important
to agriculture. I discovered that I could not
talk to government scientists and any request
for information had to go through the Privy
Council in Ottawa– the professional office
of senior government. And I was on a panel with
Elizabeth May, the one Green Party officeholder in
the House of Commons. And she said, I have exactly
the same problem you do. So there’s been a clamp
down on information by the outgoing government. And so there’s a great deal
in this particular field that Trudeau is going to have
to learn in putting together government policy. JOEL PLOUFFE: And
maybe just rapidly on that, what is
interesting that we’ve been hearing recently and what
we saw during the campaign is actually Elizabeth
May, who has extremely knowledge on the
issue of climate change and Canadian policy also. And there is actually a
petition going on right now in Canada which is interesting
asking Trudeau to integrate her into government as environmental
minister, which is something that we don’t usually see
petitions by Canadians asking a government you should have
this person in a majority government that would not be a
coalition, which is very odd. But it’s really interesting. Maybe a last thing– Dave mentioned that Trudeau will
be going to Paris with a team. And he’s going also
with the provinces. The province of Quebec was
signed on with California– and now with Ontario also– working together on
climate change policy from the subnational perspective
has been officially invited by the government, the
Hollande government in France, to take part in
those discussions. So that will be
interesting to see this dynamic between
the federal government and the provincial government
going on live in Paris. ULRICH SCRAML: The
next question for us is along those lines– what
are some of Trudeau’s plans for environmental policy? Is there anything
concrete out there? Maybe you want to explore
the northern riches in oil and other resources. At the same time,
environmentally you want to make sure it’s safe. It’s a balance act. DAVID ROSSITER: Classic
liberal position. [LAUGHTER] I think what we’ve got
to put on the table is where it’s at right now. Our very short-lived first
female prime minister– not short-lived,
she’s still alive– short in office, Kim Campbell,
has this amazing insight phrase that she used during election
and got pilloried for saying– but she’s 100% right– is that elections aren’t times
to talk about serious policy. And she got hammered for
saying that, but it’s a truism. And I think Trudeau very
much reflected that. When I said there was
a feel to the campaign, that’s what it was. In terms of specifics
of environmental policy, quite thin. So I think we’ve got to
wait to see where it goes. JOEL CONNELLY: But his father
created a very large number of Canada’s greatest
national parks. There was a famous
inquiry on a pipeline down the Mackenzie
Valley in the Arctic that he appointed a judge
from British Columbia– Tom Berger– to study
the various impacts. And Berger delivered,
believe it or not, an honest report on how the
proposed pipeline would simply trample on the interests of
aboriginal peoples, which was very radical at the time. And the older Trudeau
took to heart the report and you didn’t have a pipeline. So again, slightly more
benign toward the environment, toward preserving public
land up there, and also toward not trampling
interests in the pursuit of the goal of making
Canada an energy superpower. ULRICH SCRAML: Thank you. Different direction,
bigger picture– it’s easy and false– it’s an easy and false
analogy to say Canada George W Harper and hired Trubama. Why is that wrong and
why is that right? DAVID ROSSITER: Well, upon
arriving to work yesterday, that’s exactly what
all my colleagues said. So that is very
much the impression, at least at the surface level. And maybe I won’t say a lot. I’ll just say that I
think those parallels are fairly reasonable. Very different countries, but
what my colleagues picked up on, I think, is
somewhat the case. JOEL PLOUFFE: I would say
I don’t think that Canada has elected Obama, I don’t think
it has got rid of George Bush. I think Canada has decided
that it no longer wanted Harper in power. And that’s powerful in Canada. That’s something that at
least 70% of Canadians wanted, is no longer having
Stephen Harper in power. What Stephen Harper has done,
let’s say, in a foreign policy perspective over
the last nine years has nothing to do with
US foreign policy does around the world. Like you said a while ago,
Congress and parliaments are apples and oranges. Foreign policy-making
is the same. You can have foreign
policy-making by the US that has enormous
consequences on a global scale. But then you could also
have a rhetoric coming out of Canada’s foreign
policy-maker, Stephen Harper,
which wants to look like a superpower on
a world scale that has diplomatic impacts
on Canadian relationships with other countries. And that was what we’ve
been going through in the last nine years. So on the foreign
policy perspective, I think we’ve wanted to find– even though that is
contested and is not true that liberal governments
do not do wars; they do do wars, liberal governments do do wars. It’s not because
Chretien said we’re not going to Iraq that we
did not go to Kosovo, we were not elsewhere. This idea of
Canadians only being the blue hats around the
world is a false image. But there is a vision,
there is a common objective in trying to be a leader
based on diplomacy, and good relationships
between other countries, and avoid conflict. And I think that’s a common
goal that we all share– at least 70% of Canadians,
if I could say that. JOEL CONNELLY: And I would I
would object to the denigration to George W Bush’s reputation
by making the comparison. [LAUGHTER] ULRICH SCRAML: OK. One of the first
statements I saw yesterday was that the prime
minister elect decided not to continue
the ISIS component that the Royal Airforce–
the Royal Canadian Airforce, excuse me, has some F-18s there. And it will come back after
the regular march time line that has been set before. That’s the first step, I guess. DAVID ROSSITER: Yep. JOEL PLOUFFE: And that was an
electoral promise, which is– ULRICH SCRAML: Yes. JOEL PLOUFFE: –also true. ULRICH SCRAML: So
some politicians keep their promises, at
least at the beginning. I guess we’ll see. Do you think voters chose
Trudeau or the Liberal Party? Would liberals have
won without Trudeau? That’s a really good
question, I think. JOEL PLOUFFE: Maybe
just quickly, I think they voted for Trudeau. You would not have
seen this tsunami if you would not have had
the same image of change that Trudeau gives to Canadians. DAVID ROSSITER: It’s are
very, very good question. Perhaps the person who posed it
knew that the Liberal Party was thought to be pretty
much on its way to extinction after
the last election. They found themselves with
36 seats, the lowest count that they’ve had since,
I think, confederation. Maybe there was one low
dip 100 plus years ago. Third party status, switching
leaders every election loss. There was in fact
an author named Peter C Newman who wrote a book
called When the Gods Changed. And it was all about death
of the Liberal Party, which had been Canada’s natural
governing party for a century. I saw a great little tweet
the other day that said, I wonder what Peter C Newman’s
new book is going to be called. Because the Liberal Party
has just roared back. And I think that Joel is
right in that the vehicle– the Liberal Party–
probably still is viewed with suspicion
in many regions, Quebec being one of the prime ones. But even in Alberta, in Calgary,
they elected a few members. I think the person, the
personality, and the change– the sunny vibe
that he embodied– made people feel all
right about maybe I’ll go back to the Liberal tent
where so many Canadians once were. JOEL CONNELLY: One thing
that’s interesting and a might have been. In the 2011 election,
the New Democrats– who have always had about 30
or 40 seats in parliament, sometimes reduced into
the 20s and so on– they were led by a
ebullient, optimistic leader by the name of Jack
Layton, somebody that the country fell for and
Quebec spectacularly fell for– 59 out of 75 seats in
the House of Commons. And it appeared that the New
Democrats were on their way. But just a few months
after the election, Mr Layton dies of cancer. You can speculate– if he
were– he had still been alive, would perhaps the
electorate have turned to Layton and the New
Democrats as the alternative to Harper’s Conservatives? Again, it’s a very
fluid situation. And, as in the United
States and Canada, some longstanding
political allegiances have been cast loose. And people are
willing to do things that maybe their ancestors
would not have in terms of how they cast their vote. But Layton who was
somebody who caught on with the Canadian
people but of course is now no longer with us. And his successor did
not while Trudeau did. ULRICH SCRAML: Thank you. Another question on the economy. Predict how the new government
will handle the Trans Pacific– trade– Partnership. Another good one. JOEL PLOUFFE: I think I think
the most interesting answer by all of the leaders during the
campaign when asked do we get in the TPP or not, Trudeau
said, well– again, very liberal also answer– well, we’ll have to see. We’ll have to see what we sign. We have to see, look at it. If it’s good, we
might go for forward. If it’s bad, we’ll
have to change it. That was his position. And we have not yet seen
the whole agreement yet. So we’ll have to see what
will be adopted after it will be assessed and evaluated. And then Trudeau
do is [INAUDIBLE]. He’s free to go if
he wants or not. ULRICH SCRAML: Maybe we
should also explain the Trans Pacific– trade and– Partnership. Dave, do you want to? DAVID ROSSITER: Sure. I couldn’t name all the
countries that are in it, but I’ll try. So the United States, Chile,
Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan– ULRICH SCRAML: South Korea. DAVID ROSSITER: –South Korea. Who am I missing? ULRICH SCRAML: Canada. DAVID ROSSITER: Canada now. So anyway, I named
those others first. And there’s probably
a few others. It’s Pacific Rim
bloc of nations. The reason they
didn’t name Canada in the first naming
of groups there is because we were invited in
later on in the negotiations. And Stephen Harper was very keen
to be part of the negotiations, for some very good
reasons, I suppose. But apparently, it was
a take it or leave it– you come into the
negotiations now, and everything that’s
been arranged will stick, and then you can start to
talk about the new text. And basically it’s a free trade
agreement, not unlike NAFTA, but to bring in those
Pacific Rim nations. And a lot of the critical
kind of commentary on it would suggest that it’s not really a
free trade pact but more should be viewed as an investor
protection pact, which also NAFTA is, meaning
that if I have a company in Canada that makes widgets and
I want to take it to Malaysia and make widgets there, that
the state cannot undermine my operations. In contrast to the situation
that I came in on– so if there was a tax rate
that made it attractive for me to go make my
widgets in Malaysia and then they decided to raise the tax on
Malaysian– or Canadian widget producers in Malaysia,
that that wouldn’t be on, that the trade pact would
protect investor rights. And the reason that
this gets critiqued is because it erodes
state sovereignty. So it’s a trade pact. It’s an investor
rights protection pact. I’ve heard a lot of folks say
basically it’s small countries and why is this such a big
deal to get into Malaysia or Vietnam’s markets? This is not nearly as
big a deal as folks might make it out to be. Others say, no, this
is the pact that is going to define the
Pacific portion of the world and it’s good for Canada
being on the ground floor. So those are kind
of the perspectives as I understand them. ULRICH SCRAML: Thank you. Next one is a little weird. But I did see something about– this morning, actually–
the news, Canadian news, about maybe
legalizing marijuana. So didn’t Harpo
jump the shark when he said marijuana is infinitely
more dangerous than tobacco, giving JT his majority? DAVID ROSSITER: No I don’t
think that that alone drove the outcome, although
I think it would be part of the drip, drip, drip. It might reinforce
some perspectives. But Trudeau a
couple of years ago made his policy plank quite
explicit that legalization made all the sense in the
world for all the reasons that a series of commissions in
Canada going back to the 1970s have offered up. So that is the position. And yesterday on the
ticker on CBC news it said, infrastructure
and marijuana stocks up. So this deficit spending
is for infrastructure and now there’s this
possible new industry. So yeah, that’s where
we’re at with that one. JOEL CONNELLY: Harper gave
near Reefer Madness quality anti-marijuana lectures
warning that this– that legalization would
cause increasing numbers of young people to smoke dope. Harper should perhaps
go to the steps of the Vancouver
public library on 4/20 where he will see thousands
of young people imbibing. And you also have a
situation where, of course, you’ve had massive gangland
influence on the marijuana trade in British
Columbia and battles for control of what is the
largest agricultural crop, although illegal. And impassioned letters from
former provincial attorneys general, and former
Vancouver mayors, and so on saying
that this system is– benefits only criminal
elements that control it. So one of the
fascinating things is going to be watching as Canada
moves toward legalization and what the impact is going
to be in British Columbia, where you are essentially
taking millions and millions of
dollars of business away from criminal and biker
gangs and as you legalize it. What are the criminals going
to do now that their number one product is being legitimized? ULRICH SCRAML: Another
question, yeah? AUDIENCE: Just a quick question
and just a bit of comment. I’m really interested in
this connection of memory and this memory of Pierre
Trudeau and Justiin Trudeau. And Joel opened the door
there where he talked about [INAUDIBLE] in the 1970s. What was really interesting
during this election was that there was almost
a complete misremembering of certain aspects of
course of Pierre Trudeau’s prime ministerialship. For example, he
and Jean Chretien were the architects of
the White Paper in 1969 which advocated the
assimilation policies against– to assimilate indigenous
people in this country. He enacted the War Measures
Act to respond to the Front de Liberation Quebec,
FLQ crisis in Quebec, suspended civil liberties. And he was also the architect
of the national energy plan in the 1980s. And so what I found
really interesting is that when Justin Trudeau became
leader of the Liberal Party, there was all this, oh, but
remember what his dad did, but remember what his dad did. And then trying
those 78 days, gone. Those critiques that I think
are so important that we’re only starting to go back and
consider now as historians, and political scientists,
or what have you, we’re starting now to take a
more critical look at Trudeau’s policies and his legacies. And I was just
wondering if some of you could comment on that
misremembering of what Pierre Trudeau was for a lot of
people, especially in Quebec. CREW: Before you respond, can
you summarize the question and repeat it for the recording? I know it’s a long question. AUDIENCE: Sorry. DAVID ROSSITER:
Trudeau’s record, as we might be kind
of implying here, is viewed sometimes with
rose-colored glasses. But the question
is very correctly explicating is that
there’s a series of marks on Pierre Trudeau’s record which
progressive, left-oriented, whatever you want to call it
folks on the political spectrum have quite strong problems with. And so the earliest example,
or one of the early examples, is something called
the White Paper, very unfortunately titled, on
aboriginal assimilation, where whereby all the
state protections for aboriginal peoples
would be removed and aboriginal
peoples would be just like any other person, which
is a problematic statement for aboriginal peoples in
Canada who have histories of marginalization and have,
different sets of identity politics, and whatnot. The FLQ crisis, there was a
terrorist crisis in Quebec in the early 1970s wherein
Pierre Elliott Trudeau suspended civil
liberties in Quebec and basically allowed
for arrest without cause. And a series of other
moves which have come in for large criticism. I’ll never forget hearing
about the White Paper as an undergraduate
student and totally having my image of
Trudeau blown apart. And then I had to
be educated on what is Liberal philosophy
all about, and what was it in the ’60s,
et cetera, et cetera. But that moment
that I had I think gets at some of your questions
in that I tried in my opening remarks to say the record
and the sense of that– and the memory of that past
are two different things. And I think during the course
of the election campaign, the nice sense was
something that– this is not scientifically
provable, I don’t think– but that nice sense of the
Canadian past and Trudeau liberalism of the ’70s and
’80s was palpably gone, and people want to
recapture it, and just didn’t want to go there
with those other things. And perhaps Trudeau the
younger worked at trying to soften some of those edges. So he was very explicit
about going to Alberta and saying to Albertans
Alberta matters to Canada and the Liberal Party. I couldn’t imagine Pierre
Elliott Trudeau doing that, for instance. Justin Trudeau has
made very strong noises towards First Nations in
Canada and reconciliation. We just had a Truth and
Reconciliation Commission over residential
schools and it came up with 94 recommendations
that should be implemented to improve the relationship. The previous government wasn’t
interested in any of them. Trudeau committed during the
campaign to implement all 94. So I think having I don’t
know the luck, or the fortune, or the smarts to tap into that
sentiment, but at the same time be aware of the record
and try to hold it at bay or be not his father’s son
was an interesting dynamic that maybe he pulled off. And that the NDP vote
collapsed in an election that we thought
it was going to be the NDP and the
Liberals battling it out and the Conservatives
might come up the middle, that the NDP vote
collapsed suggests to me that those NDPers
were willing to say, well, Pierre Elliott and
Justin, maybe they’re two different people. But there’s a sense of
liberalism that’s the same. But he’s his own
person and I’m not going to stop because
of the national energy program, or the White
Paper, or what have you. That’s my sense. We’re early days. JOEL PLOUFFE: Maybe
a quick word on that. And it’s fascinating
because it comes back to what I was saying. I would never think that
the Quebecers would vote– have this big, big red– this red Quebec
that you see today. And again, just to
work on your question, every time I think
about Trudeau– and I think about his
speeches right now– the thing that comes to my
mind is what would Trudeau answer to a journalist today. I always think about
his father saying, just watch me about the law measures
act when a journalist asked him to what point are you ready to
suspend civil rights in Quebec. And he answered,
well, just watch me. And we’ll never forget
that because he did go far. And today it’s the
same just watch me, but the contingencies
are completely different, if we can throw that in
the whole discussion. We have a Liberal Party
that’s a majority government in the government of Quebec. The Parti Quebecois, the
sovereigntist movement, is going down in Quebec. It’s still there,
but it’s very low. The Bloc Quebecois
is almost inexistant. So that has changed very much. Now the indigenous peoples’
rights issues have progressed. They’re different,
and they’re ongoing, and you have this
willingness to change that. You have this willingness
of rapproachment, getting close with
the provinces, with the territories,
working with the people. That is a different
approach too. So a bit like Dave was saying– probably the best
thing that we have now for this prime minister is
having a legacy of his father always following him
behind so we always has to have this critical
view on the policy decisions he’s going to make. He has different views. He’s a different individual and
he has a different experience than his father too. You said in your
opening remarks, living with the
people in the north, working with northerners, a
schoolteacher and all of this is very different. So that will have an effect
on his policy decisions also. JOEL CONNELLY: Let me give
a specific to your question. Remembering Pierre Trudeau’s
words, just watch me, I think you can tell the– what
the new Trudeau’s response is going to be to aboriginal
rights by watching a stretch of highway in northern
British Columbia Highway 16, which goes across
northern British Columbia, has gotten the nickname
“The Highway of Death” due to the number of aboriginal
women who have disappeared, remains found– have been murdered
or simply vanished from the face of the earth. Highway 16 is an
epicenter of this, but it goes across the country. And the Harper government
really saw no need for special treatment. I think they actually
use that word. Of the deaths of aboriginal
women, while of course you have– the data suggests it, as to
some of the grisly examples, the need for some
national consideration, national evaluation
of how you deal with this, how you stop this. And I think a good
measure of just watch me will be the speed and
the honesty with which Justin Trudeau acts with respect to
what’s been seen on Highway 16. ULRICH SCRAML:
Serious comment to– yeah. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]. ULRICH SCRAML: Yeah. AUDIENCE: If I
understood correctly, the Conservatives had two
minority governments and then a third majority government
in that sequence. And yet there’s the
inference in everything I’ve heard tonight that Canada
as a nation is realizing, is moving away from what
it felt its identity had been for decades or more. How did they manage a majority
government in seeming contrast to the mood of the country? DAVID ROSSITER: Two
minorities and a majority. The idea that this
gentleman has picked up from the room in the
last couple of hours is that Canadians weren’t
super happy with the program and prime minister that
won those two minorities and majorities. So how did he get a majority? How did this not end sooner? AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] DAVID ROSSITER: Yeah. So this gets a little
bit into– remember I said the Liberal Party
was thought to be dead. In the early 2000s
and what led up to the 2006 defeat
of the Liberal Party, there was a large scandal around
sponsorship of events in Quebec by the Canadian government. And basically the Liberal Party
was found to be funneling money to its own friends throughout
agencies– taxpayers’ money– at the end of a long
run of Liberal rule. And there was a lot of disgust. And the Liberal Party was
[INAUDIBLE] from power and got a new leader who
was very ineffective. And maybe part of
that ineffectiveness was the Conservative Party
did a really good job of framing him and
putting attack ads out that made him just a non-entity
in terms of being competitive. Then the Liberals went for
another leader who was again problematic for a
whole lot of reasons and the Conservatives
were successful in framing him as not an appropriate
prime minister. And up to that point,
the NDP had never really been considered a
government in waiting. There was something in the
’80s where there was a moment, but generally speaking, it was
either Liberal or Conservative. So we had a 2006 election where
it was kick the liberals out, we need a new government. The only place to turn in
Canadian political history has been Conservative–
it’s Liberal, Conservative. 2008, the prime
minister and his party had only been in a minority
position for two years. So policy-wise, you can’t
have a ton of effect– tone, yes, but
policy not so much. The Liberal Party was in no
position to really fight. And they managed to
get another minority. 2011, Liberal party
is still in trouble. The Conservatives,
playing off of a sense that we want to stop having
elections in this country– we want some stability,
we want to not go to the polls for four years. So the tag line was a
strong stable majority Conservative government. The liberals still
extraordinarily weak. And they managed to
squeak out their majority. But the thing that happened
that points to what you’re wondering about and
maybe leads us up to today was the extreme success of the
NDP, particularly in Quebec. It showed that there was this
desire for something else than the Conservative option. It didn’t work out electorally. But there were a lot
of fears, I believe, on the Conservative side
of things in the lead up to that 2011 vote
that the NDP might well get a minority government. And that seemed to have
scared a lot of what we called blue Liberals, business-oriented
Liberals, to the Conservatives where they might not
have otherwise gone, because the NDP are
the socialist hordes and we don’t like them at
the gates sort of thing. So that set of dynamics
allowed these three election wins and allowed the
majority the final time. If there was a Conservative
Party– or a Liberal Party that didn’t have that
decade-old baggage and had an effective
leader in 2011, we might have seen
a different outcome. ULRICH SCRAML: Other
question down there? DAVID ROSSITER: Canada is
a really regional country. And so that question is probably
best answered regionally. And maybe just to be quick
about it, the tension that might re-emerge is a Western
alienation, you might call it. I wouldn’t put British Columbia
into this, necessarily. Sometimes British
Columbia as the west beyond the west in Canada. But Saskatchewan
and Alberta, what we call the prairie
portion of the country, if you look at
the electoral map, it did mostly go Conservative. There are a smattering
of Liberal and NDP seats. But there we do see a
rural-urban divide play out. It’s also southwestern Ontario
has the same thing going on and a northern British Columbia. And that rural-urban dynamic
could be the source of tension that you’re maybe looking for. But I wouldn’t say it’s
particularly Canadian. It’s very much the same in
the United States, right, the red-blue, the bicoastal
versus the heartland or the midwest. I think that’s– in at
least North American liberal democracies, which we both are– probably the key tension
and political dynamic is rural-urban. And so we can see it
out of this election. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]. JOEL CONNELLY: Let me respond
a little bit to that again, that the– it’ll depend a little bit in
terms of Trudeau’s connection to the– continued
connection to the people. There’s not really that much
tradition of retail politicking by prime ministers
between elections. A few years ago, Bill
Clinton was picking up a $200,000 honorarium
in Vancouver. Clinton arrived in
Vancouver in a foul mood– his advance guy,
Chris [INAUDIBLE] figured out how
to deal with this. Namely, they dumped off Clinton
at about 12th and Granville in Vancouver. And he simply hoofed
it down Granville with people coming out
of Starbucks outlets, students at a beauty parlor,
Chinese beauty parlor, shouting “Clinton, Clinton, Clinton.” And he essentially
glad-hands all the way down to the Granville Bridge. And [INAUDIBLE] figures
this is working quite well. So they let him off on
Robsonstrasse, not far away. And he hoofed it all the
way down to the bay shore and was in a great mood
by the time this was over. The RCMP Constables, I was
joking with them, they– the prime minister never
does anything like this. The last time that
Saint Chretien was touring the touring
the Annacis Islands sewage treatment plant. So that a great deal
will depend upon whether the connection that
Justin Trudeau established will continue to be– whether he will nurture it. I’m sorry to interrupt
your question. AUDIENCE: That was a
perfect segue, actually. My question was what does it
say about the state of North American democracies
that there’s so few surnames in leadership
at the federal level– Bush, Clinton, Trudeau. DAVID ROSSITER: Well,
this is new for Canada. We’ve never done
anything like this. JOEL PLOUFFE: Yeah. But it is interesting
to see that and how the liberal media is
also talking about this right now in talking about the
Canadian dynasty in politics, which, like you just
said, is a bit odd. Again, about your
question a while ago about Trudeau and Trudeau
senior, is there a dynasty and is there a continuation
of Trudeau father with Trudeau [INAUDIBLE]. We’ll have to see that
in a year, at least through his discourse. And what Joel was
saying exactly is Trudeau has enormous,
enormous room to be different from Harper
with connecting with Canadians. Harper was completely
disconnected with people, even at the beginning
of the campaign. And this was known even
other press conferences of Stephen Harper. It was very difficult
to just go and see Harper in a press conference. The media had no access
to Stephen Harper. Just another example of
how Trudeau is different. Just a couple of days before
the end of the campaign, there was– I won’t get into this
fiasco, but the campaign organizer of Trudeau was
discovered being working with– a lobbyist working with
the pipeline industry. And that was a big concern and
made headlines in the media. And he was being bombarded
by questions by the media. And some people were saying,
stop talking in the media, let Trudeau talk. And he said, no, the
media need to ask me questions because I
need to be accountable, which is very interesting
because we haven’t seen that in 10 years in
Canada, a government that had these media lines and never
actually saying the truth– or at least, it’s the
feeling that we had. So we’ll see if he will be more
open than the Harper government in his outreach with
the public opinion. That’ll be interesting. It’d be really different. ULRICH SCRAML: Thank you. There’s another question,
the final one, I think. AUDIENCE: So with– in
Canada, the prime minister gets to dissolve the government. Why do you think that Haper
chose that particular time to dissolve the
government, especially considering that there was a big
scandal going on in his party. DAVID ROSSITER:
Well, so the question was, the prime minister gets
to dissolve the parliament, why would he make that call? A little irony,
I suppose, here– under our system in
the Constitution, there must be an election
at least every five years. Otherwise, the
prime minister gets to go to the governor
general and give his advice. Minority, majority
makes a difference in how that all goes down. In opposition,
Stephen Harper would rail against Liberal
prime ministers for using that power to choose
the ideal election time. And so he suggested in
opposition that what we need is, like in America, fixed
term limits of four years, and so on becoming government
put that legislation into place– it’s also in place
in a lot of the provinces now. So it was his own
fixed election date legislation that forced that
election to be on October 9– 19. It had to be. That said, it’s just
an act of Parliament. Is not part of the Constitution. He could have repealed
the legislation. He did something like that in
one of the earlier elections and folks said, well,
what’s with this? You made the argument that
there should be fixed dates because the prime minister
has too much power, and now you’ve just gone and
done an end run around that. My guess is he
probably calculated he could not get away
with that kind of maneuver again at the end
of a majority term and all this sort of thing. So it’s a little ironic. JOEL CONNELLY: I think that
the Conservatives badly underestimated– or as
George W Bush would say, misunderestimated– Trudeau. They thought that he was
fading, he was in third place, he was a lightweight,
the 78 day campaign would cause him to be lighter
than air and that that he would he would float away. And then they could
demonize the socialists and that this was a path. First put away one
opposition party, and then demonize the other, and
people plug their nose and vote for you. Canada does have a
tradition of people– of premiers and
prime ministers– being elected or re-elected as
tough guys rather than somebody that you like. And the Conservatives
were emphasizing this. But the scenario
did not play out when Trudeau proved to be an
eloquent and steely presence and outflanked the New
Democrats on the left with his promise of
running deficits, of a middle class tax cut, and
of higher taxes for the very rich– not necessarily
soaking the rich, but requiring them
to bathe regularly. JOEL PLOUFFE: And the
campaign was launched, again, right before the summertime. The Conservative Party
had a lot more money than all the rest
of the parties. The two enemies
for Stephen Harper were the New Democrats
and the Liberals. The Conservative Party
was running on the line that the– that
Justin Trudeau was not ready to be prime minister. And this was his
big media stunt, saying that he’s
not ready, telling Canadians he’s not ready– he’s young, he’s just not ready. And he was so unpopular
too at that time that you couldn’t
even think that he’d win a majority government. And then the New Democrats
had– would probably run out of money
arriving in September when the summertime is over
and when people are actually starting to watch the
news and be interested. What happens in the
summertime here– I think we all do
the same thing– we go camping, we leave,
we try to not watch TV, we leave our
iPhones, and we just don’t want to talk
about politics. We want to have a
summertime break. So Harper was very, very quiet
during the whole summertime. He was not doing a lot of big,
big announcements or anything. But the summer would start to
end and then he’d come back in and then the others
would get more tired. But this just
course, Washington now has its primary
election early in August right in the middle
of the break when people are tuning out the
people that are on the ballot. ULRICH SCRAML: Let this be
the final statement, I guess. We’re over time and we’re
slowly losing our audience. So thank you very
much for coming. JOEL CONNELLY: Thank
you for holding us. ULRICH SCRAML: And thank
you very much to our panel. [APPLAUSE]

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