With less than three weeks to go until election day, federal party leaders are fanning out across the central part of the country today. Obama fiddles on the seashore, commanding the oceans to stop their minuscule rise, while Damascus burns. Achieving peace has traditionally been a function of US power.
Foreign policy has rarely determined a federal election since the Second World War.
Live streamed it on the Munk debates’ website. It was also more civil. Also, Obama’s refusal to permit Keystone XL underlines the importance of climate for Canada’s oil economy.
From the opening of the debate, it was Mulcair who found himself on the defensive. Mulcair’s suggestion that Trudeau was merely reciting lines written by others was mean-spirited and unattractive.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper also amped up his ardour, pounding home the point that convicted terrorists have no home in Canada and can expect to be stripped of their citizenship, while painting his rivals as soft on security. And even if they were, why would we, as Canadians, care?
Only time will tell whether global efforts in Afghanistan truly resulted in the ability of Afghanistan to become a stable country, Harper said Tuesday, drawing parallels with what’s happening now in the fight against militants in Iraq and Syria. He astutely cited the last year’s brass band announcement of an agreement between the USA and China – neither of them signatories to Kyoto – as support for his position.
“There are a lot of people highly engaged in this conversation, but [the politicians] don’t talk a lot about energy and pipelines”, he said.
The NDP leader, who resorted at times to familiar talking points, called that “malarkey”. “It’s my nature”.
Thomas Mulcair recently announced that the NDP plan to do a “cap-and-trade” program where certain industries would have a cap on emissions.
“This government remains absolutely committed to making sure we preserve our system of supply management through trade negotiations”, he said.
I recognize that there are many areas in which Canada can and should improve its record.
The gotcha mainstream media notes that Stephen Harper once supported cap-and-trade, but that was only because a newly elected Barack Obama was promoting such a programme.
What he said: When asked when he would get involved with a foreign war, Mulcair said he would only do it if it was backed by the United Nations, and that the mission in Iraq and Syria against ISIS is not sanctioned by the UN. Harper pointed out that those estimates came from the U.S. State Department. Keystone won’t “export” jobs to the United States. Mr. Mulcair was not so principled, however, when he claimed – to chuckles from the audience – that NDP governments do not run fiscal deficits.
“Under the previous government, they established the toughest standards in the world and then missed them by the most of any single country”, he said.
“This (ISIS) is a group that would slaughter literally millions of people in its wake, has a stated intention to launch terrorist attacks around the world, including against this country, and has indicated it has the capacity to do that”, Harper said.
A few issues debated included Canada’s role with Syrian refugees, terrorism and the Islamic State, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, climate change and northern issues and the Canada-U.S. relationship. By contrast, conservative values, in both foreign affairs and economic policy, are looking pretty sound.
Both major opposition parties are now campaigning in the shadow of the disasters being wrought by the most progressive of US presidents.