Transcript: Season 4, Episode 21

Written by admin on 24/07/2019 Categories: 广州桑拿网

Watch: The full broadcast of The West Block with Tom Clark, aired Sunday, February 1, 2015.

Host: Tom Clark

Guest Interviews: Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, Former Canadian Forces member and current military journalist Scott Taylor, Ottawa Citizen parliamentary bureau chief Mark Kennedy and former U.S. ambassador to Canada Gordon Giffin

Location: Ottawa

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On this Sunday, new anti-terrorism laws for Canada but where is the money to make them effective?  We’ll put that question to Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney.

Then, we’ll start unpacking the politics of our two-front war against ISIL, in Iraq and here at home.

And Canada-US relations: to call them tense would be a bit of an understatement.  What needs to be done to get relations back on track?

It is Sunday, February the 1st and from the nation’s capital, I’m Tom Clark.  And you are in The West Block.

Well late last week, the government announced its new anti-terror legislation.  It includes:  increasing the time a suspected terrorist can be held without charge, prohibiting anyone from boarding a plane who poses a threat, and criminalizing the promotion of terrorism.  Does the bill though, give law enforcement the resources they need to fight terrorism on the home front?

Well joining me now, from Toronto, is Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney.  Minister good to have you here, I’m wondering if we could start with this?  This new array of measures that you’ve announced last week, would any of these measures have prevented the shooting in Ottawa of Nathan Cirillo?

Steven Blaney:

It’s hard to go back in history, Tom and do a hypothetical question, but the more tools our police officers have, the more tools our national security have, is definitely helping us to track individuals before they commit terrorist attacks.

Tom Clark:

How many people is this going to affect?  In other words, are there people on the streets today that you couldn’t arrest before that with these new laws you will now be able to detain?

Steven Blaney:

Absolutely, Tom.  Well once the bill is adopted and it has to go through Parliament, through House of Commons, through Senate and get royal ascent.  But one thing is sure, there are many measures, as we speak, Tom, if an individual is willing to travel abroad to commit terrorist attacks, we cannot prevent this person from embarking on a flight.  This is why…

Tom Clark:

Sorry to interrupt Minister but haven’t we in fact done that?  Haven’t we stopped people from going over to Syria?

Steven Blaney:

Yes, we have some measures but we have a Passenger Protect program that is aimed at protecting the airplane, the transportation safety, but if the individual is willing to be on this airplane, and we have suspicion that this person is willing to commit terrorist attacks, we need evidence, but we also need to have the capability to make a quick decision by our National Security Agency and police officers, that’s what this bill will enable.  Of course, if there is a long enquiry and evidence and a case that is built, we can prevent them but we need to be able to act quickly.  We need to be able to talk to the father and the parents of a kid who is being lured by terrorism to tell them look, you have to do something with…the service cannot do that at that point in time.  We have to be able to share information amongst agencies.  There are numerous things that we cannot do now that would have helped to prevent and that will help to prevent further attacks but of course, we always have to remain vigilant.

Tom Clark:

These new bills, of course have expanded the powers, particularly of CSIS and they’ve given more tools to law enforcement across the country.  I’m wondering is your government going to be following this up with more resources for CSIS, the RCMP and all these agencies that now have these new tools because they’ve complained in the past that they simply don’t have the resources they need to carry out their functions.

Steven Blaney:

That’s a good question, Tom.  As you know, we’ve increased our budget by one third, both for the police officers, for RCMP and for CSIS, so we’ve been there to provide them with the resources needed.  Resources are good, but if you don’t have the authority, if you know that someone is willing to commit a terrorist act, you suspect it but the threshold is too high, you may have a bunch of police officers waiting to intervene but they can’t.  That’s why we need to clarify that authority within the constitution in full compliance with many checks and balances, but we have to provide those tools.  So yes, we are always looking at the resources needed and as you know, there has been some reallocation of the resources to task a specific terrorist threat but we need to make those resources fully operable and that’s why we need this bill actually.

Tom Clark:

Okay, but the question I was asking was, are you going to be giving more money to the agencies to carry out not only the jobs they’re doing now but the jobs that they will be doing once this legislation passes?  So, in the next budget, are you going to be giving more money to the security agencies?

Steven Blaney:

Well at this point in time, we are moving forward with that legislation.  The budget is a separate process.  We are of course contemplating to make sure that the resources that have been provided in the past that are provided and that will be provided are sufficient, but at this point in time, we need to make sure that those current resources have the capability to act and this is why we really are supporting and willing to move forward with that bill, Tom.

Tom Clark:

Okay, but I guess what I’m not hearing is that you’re committing money to this.

Steven Blaney:

At this point in time, as I tell you, it’s clearly important that we have the authority because money…you may have all the money that you need but if you don’t have the authority, you…take for example, at this point in time in federal agencies are not able to share information related to national security, so this is not a money issue.  This is an authority issue.  That’s why we need to clarify.  That’s why this bill is so important and before considering additional resources, we have to make sure that those authorities are in place.  That’s why we are strongly supporting this bill, seeking support of the Opposition so that we can move it forward, so that we can better protect Canadians against the terrorist threat we are facing now.

Tom Clark:

Steven Blaney, the Minister of Public Safety for Canada.  Thanks very much for joining us today, I appreciate your time.

Steven Blaney:

It’s a pleasure.  Thank you, Tom.

Tom Clark:

Creating new laws to disrupt terrorists here at home is one aspect of dealing with ISIL.  The other is taking the fight to them in Iraq and Syria.  Canada is now into its fourth month of that fight and despite taking no casualties and notching up some successes, the mission is nevertheless causing a lot of political friction.  For the Opposition, it’s all about a lack of honesty.  For the government, it’s about who supports the troops more?

Well what we’d like to do is try and cut through all the noise on Parliament Hill, so joining me on that task is Scott Taylor.  The Editor…Chief Editor rather of Esprit de Corps Magazine.

Scott thanks very much for being here.

Scott Taylor:

My pleasure.

Tom Clark:

When you take a listen to what’s going on, on the Hill and you’re putting it through your military filter, what are you hearing?  What are you making of this?

Scott Taylor:

I think the fact that they’re getting bogged down in all the minutia of the wording.  What does the word “accompany” mean?  What does the word “combat” mean?  And is it a “combat” mission or is a “combat within a non-combat” mission?  I don’t think anybody cares.  I think what’s more important is what information they’ve released to us and why they’ve released it to us now because this is something which, I mean as you know as well, Special Operation Forces don’t really reveal what they’re doing.  We know when they’re deployed as such that we don’t hear about it.  All through Afghanistan we knew our Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) was doing missions that were fantastic but we couldn’t know about them.  They wished they could tell us.  Why are they now telling us what they’re doing?  Our allies aren’t telling us what they’re doing.

Tom Clark:

Yeah, and I had that question as well because like you, I’ve been in numerous war zones, shooting wars where Canadians have been present and one thing you know is that you never talk about Special Operations Forces.

Scott Taylor:

Never photograph them.

Tom Clark:

It’s operational security and it’s burnt into your brain that you don’t do that and then suddenly they come out and tell everything, including the calibre of the weapons that they’re using.  From a military point of view, why on earth is the military revealing all this information which has been one of the most closely held secrets of the military for decades?

Scott Taylor:

The only thing I can think of is that people found out internally that this was happening, that there had been a change in the mission from what they were specifically asked about would they be engaging in this kind of activity.  Would they be mentoring these Iraqi forces and we were told no.  They would be training, not mentoring.  They wouldn’t be on the front lines.  Then it turns out they are.  Now if Canadian public’s first idea or understanding that they’re in combat range is a soldier coming home in a flag draped coffin.  You’ve got a lot more explaining to do.  So now we’ve heard about it.  They’ve tested the waters.  Canadians for the most part reacted positively.  Yes, we’re engaging.  We don’t care if they’re killing ISIS beheaders. So be it, right?  And then we’re successfully …it was successful operations.  I mean again, we were told they neutralized which meant they killed, they went forward.  They didn’t take any casualties.

Tom Clark:

And yet, we’re the only country briefing on what we’re doing, what our special operations forces are doing.  The Americans aren’t doing it.  The Brits aren’t doing it.  The Aussies aren’t doing it.

Scott Taylor:

Well and again, people jump to conclusion that we’re the only ones doing this because we’re the only ones telling people we’re doing it.  Now you’ve gotta believe that the Aussies, the Brits, the Americans are in there.  The Turks must be in there, this is their neighbourhood.  I mean they’ve got enemies in there in Northern Iraq that they would be tracking.  They’re not broadcasting that so they’ve gotta be wondering why it is Canada is getting all this recognition as being the only ones in there leading the charge.  We’re not, but we’re the only ones talking about it and that comes back to the politics of all this because it’s making the Conservative government look really good.  People are actually happy that we’re doing more than what they said we were going to do when they first sent them in.

Tom Clark:

And that is problematical from a military point of view that if politics is driving something like revealing your Special Operations Forces on the ground, I would imagine from a military point of view that’s not a happy situation.

Scott Taylor:

No, and I think the fact that they got caught up in this whole issue of what they said they were going to do.  General Tom Lawson was very specific when he was asked by journalists whether they would be painting targets for our own aircraft there because it made sense, we’re sending combat aircraft, we’re sending Special Forces.  Wouldn’t they be working in tandem?  And he was clear, no, they will not because that’s semi-combat.  They won’t be doing that.  So because of that, we’ve now got the chief of defence staff having to reverse an issued statement saying that the mission has evolved since we first deployed.  Well they give weekly or twice weekly technical briefings, which I think that would be the opportunity to tell Canadians, guess what?  We now have to move into a more forward position.  So they didn’t use an opportunity.  They’re playing catch up now and unfortunately it’s damaging their credibility because I mean soldiers are watching them squirm in front of these committee meetings and they know the word accompany means accompany.  It doesn’t mean a musical accompaniment.

Tom Clark:

Listen, in the few seconds we’ve got left, I just want to get you to put one thing on the table and that is, you were talking about we know who we’re fighting against but who are we fighting for?  Operating in the Kurdish area of Iraq is problematic.

Scott Taylor:

This is where when our general goes in and meets with these Kurdish officials.  I mean the soldiers around him are all wearing the flag of Kurdistan on their uniform.  It’s a sunburst on top of red, white and green.  That’s not the flag of Iraq.  The Kurds that we’re helping now are not Iraqi security forces.  They may be in an area that we’ve surrounded a map and called it Iraq.  They’re fighting for Kurdistan and that’s something that we don’t recognize.  Our NATO ally, Turkey doesn’t recognize so simply going in and fighting evil and ISIS isn’t enough.  Canadians need to know who we’re fighting for and what is victory going to look like?  What will it eventually be that we’re fighting towards?

Tom Clark:

Scott Taylor, Esprit de Corps Magazine, awfully good to have you here.  Thank you very much.

Scott Taylor:

My pleasure.

Tom Clark:

Still to come, we want to unpack the politics of this two front fight.  Mark Kennedy joins us right after the break.

Break

Tom Clark:

Welcome back.  Well everything we have heard in the past few days, points to the fact that Stephen Harper thinks he has found his election issue.  Take a listen to him last week:

Stephen Harper:  “Over the last few years, a great evil has been descending upon our world, an evil which has been growing more and more powerful:  Violent jihadism.”

Tom Clark:

Let’s bring Mark Kennedy into this.  Mark of course is the Parliamentary Bureau Chief for the Ottawa Citizen.  Wow, Stephen Harper like you’ve never seen him before.

Mark Kennedy:

Oh absolutely, I mean how often do you see a prime minister of this country use the word “evil” in describing people.

Tom Clark:

Normally that’s a term only reserved for the Opposition.

Mark Kennedy:

For the Opposition, exactly.  You know what? I think he thinks he’s on his game now.  I think he thinks he’s had a game plan, both policy wise and political wise and I think he now knows this is the time to execute it.  He’s very comfortable talking about it.  If anyone…if any Canadian had watched that news conference on Friday, one would have seen a man who is energized. I think he thinks he’s doing the right thing for the country but I also think quite frankly, he thinks it’s politically the smart thing to do.  And we’ve been seeing that unfold over the last few days.

Tom Clark:

And what’s interesting about it is that if you and I were having this discussion two months ago, we’d say the thing he’s going to go on is the economy and good economic stewardship of the country.  That’s not going so well.  So is this in effect a replacement for the one issue that actually started falling off the rails for him?

Mark Kennedy:

Absolutely.  There are companies that are losing jobs, whether it’s Tim Hortons or who else.  He now knows this is an issue that won’t change all that much in the coming months.  He knows that in the next couple of months, Parliament will be faced with whether or not we renew our mission in the Middle East.  I think it’s pretty clear that we will renew that mission.  It puts the Opposition in an awkward position, which is why I think the prime minster is enjoying it right now.  How often, not only do you see the prime minister use the word “evil” but in the House of Commons?  As we saw last week, the prime minister looks across the aisle into the eyes of the leader of the official Opposition and essentially accuses him of defending the jihadists.  That’s what he’s doing.  I think why is he doing it?  It’s because it’s creating a wedge as we head towards that magical date, October 19th, which is when Canadians go to the polls.

Tom Clark:

And there’s already been some criticism of that tactic, the idea of saying you’re either with me or you’re with the terrorists and saying it to other Canadian politicians, some people might say is going a little bit far, but let’s talk for a minute about the Liberals in all of this because I have never seen a more mismanaged message, whatever their message is on the mission in Iraq.  I’m not sure I even understand it to this day, do you?

Mark Kennedy:

Well from the start, the argument I heard from Justin Trudeau is that there were better ways for Canadians to contribute to this mission, whether it’s other ways on the ground, humanitarian aid, that sort of thing.  Listen, they’re in a tight spot and they know it.  They know that if the Prime Minster of Canada going towards the election is able to characterize not only the NDP, but the Liberals as being soft on terror, it could cost them the election.  They don’t want this to be the defining issue.  Justin Trudeau wants the economy and the state of the middle class to be the defining issue.  So what does he do?  He, I think has to find a way to avoid taking a position on this.  If he is with Stephen Harper, out and outright from the start, he will be accused of being overly hawkish.  If he pulls too far on the other end, he opens up a spot for criticism.  He’s in a real tight spot.

Tom Clark:

Let’s just deal, I mean the last thing that any Canadian would want to see is a Canadian casualty over in Iraq, but when you’re hitching your political wagon to essentially a war, a place where people are shooting guns at one another and hoping to kill the other guy, this sort of thing can happen.  And as much as he thinks that this is a winning issue right now, and the polls would certainly suggest that that is the case for Stephen Harper, it’s pretty dangerous isn’t it?  Because the moment you take a casualty or two or three Canadians have shown in the past that they say, I’m not with this anymore.

Mark Kennedy:

I mean I’ve always thought from the start, Tom.  I mean it’s pretty easy and the risk of a plane being shot down over Iraq is quite low.  We do have and we have had supposedly advisors on the ground.  We haven’t learned until recently that those advisors aren’t in the back advising and assisting but they are going to the front.  And of course the prime minister is under a lot of criticism for that.  He’s acclaiming of course that all they’re doing is protecting themselves.  Canadians didn’t know that last October that they’d be doing that.  The horrible thought and the horrible prospect is this, you are right.  What if a Canadian dies on the front lines?  Will the national debate shift then and that’s something all the politicians have to be thinking about.

Tom Clark:

Mark Kennedy of the Ottawa Citizen, always good talking to you.  Thanks very much.

Mark Kennedy:

Thank you.

Tom Clark:

Well coming up next, there’s more than just frost in the air between Canada and the United States.  Why are relations between the two countries so chilly?  That’s coming up next.

Break

Tom Clark:

Not since the War of 1812 or perhaps since the days of John Diefenbaker, have relations between Canada and the United States been more strained as they are today.  The Keystone pipeline has virtually overtaken the relationship and the two leaders.  Well they’ve only visited each other three times in six years.  Now to understand the big picture, sometimes you need to look at the small picture, so here it is, your weekly West Block Primer:

Once upon a time, there was a ferry terminal in Prince Rupert, BC.  A major hub on the west coast and it was falling apart.  It’s on Canadian land but it is leased to Alaska, and they decided to fix it up; the contract worth $20 million, but there’s a catch.  The contractor, Canadian or American, had to buy American steel, about $2 million worth.  Canadia said, buy America on Canadian soil?  No way, eh.  The Americans said, tough.  American job, American rules.  Get used to it.  The neighbours in a standoff, nobody willing to blink for a measly $2 million.  The ferry terminal upgrade cancelled.  The book is closed on that for now.

Joining me now from New York is the former US ambassador to Canada, Gordon Giffin. And Gordon thanks very much for being here.  You know, looking at that Prince Rupert situation, I wonder if that’s indicative of where we are in our relations because if you can’t take care of the little things, how do you deal with the big things?

Gordon Giffin:

Well I hope it’s not indicative.  It is an indication of a frustrating circumstance that there should have been a way through but I guess it’s hung up now and not going forward.  So it does indicate that the dialogue is not as smooth as it should be between our two countries right now.

Tom Clark:

Why do you think that is?

Gordon Giffin:

Well, I guess it’s anybody’s guess, but I do think the cross border debate about the Keystone XL pipeline has created enough friction over the last two or three years that that’s sort of an undercurrent in the way we work with each other.  There’s lot of other things going on and there’s lots of very positive things going on in North America with Canada and the United States but I think the pipeline debate sort of has a cloud over how we’re working together.

Tom Clark:

It’s often been said in the past that relationships actually do matter and you know we saw some very close ones in the past, but I’m wondering there doesn’t seem to be much chemistry there between Stephen Harper and Barack Obama.  Is an improvement in relations between the two countries going to have to wait for new leaders both in…perhaps in Canada and but most certainly at the White House?

Gordon Giffin:

Well, I don’t think so.  I think, for example, I believe that underlying frustration with respect to the pipeline, maybe I’m an optimist but I think that’s going to get resolved in the next four or five months.  I actually think the authority to go forward with that will materialize during that period of time, through one means or another.  So if that gets disposed of, I think the clouds rise and things get a little easier.  So, I agree with you that the chemistry between the two leaders certainly throughout history has made things easier when there is a bond if you will between the two leaders, but I think the relationship, the historic relationship, goes beyond whoever happens to occupy 24 Sussex or the White House at a given moment.

Tom Clark:
Yeah, and I guess, you know the stories abounded around this town anyway, that the US representative here was put into a deep freeze.  I guess this is what happens when your relationship is really down to about one issue, as it has been, as you’ve explained about Keystone.  But I want to ask you just in the minute we’ve got left; you’re very close to Hillary Clinton and her campaign.  If there is a President Clinton in the White House in a year from now, will she be handling Canada any differently than the way it’s being handled now?

Gordon Giffin:

Well you’re accelerating things a little bit, it would be two years from now, but I have every confidence that there will be another Clinton as president of the United States.  And I think yes, I think the answer is that Hillary Clinton and her husband for that matter are big fans of a relationship with Canada.  They made my job much easier when I was ambassador and that’s a big point, frankly.  The two of them have spent a great deal of time in Canada, long before they were prominent public officials.  Hillary was in Canada in Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Whistler last week for three different stops.  She knows Canada.  She likes Canada and I think without doubt that we’ll have a very warm interactive relationship with her in the White House.

Tom Clark:

Gordon Giffin thanks very much and I didn’t mean to scare you by saying that the presidential election was in one year from now.  Anyway, thank you very much for joining us, I appreciate your time.

Gordon Giffin:

Yeah, too much to do between now and then and I admit that I am biased in my conclusion that she’ll be in the White House.

Tom Clark:

That’s okay.  Thanks very much.

That’s it for this week.  We’ll see you next Sunday for another edition of The West Block.

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