The West Block – Episode 34, Season 11 – National


Episode 34, Season 11

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Host: Mercedes Stephenson


Omar Alghabra, Transport Minister

Don Drummond, Economist and Fellow at Queen’s College

Jean Charest, Conservative Management Candidate 

Location: Ottawa, ON


Mercedes Stephenson: This week on The West Block…

Omar Alghabra, Transport Minister: “We’re working with airways, we’re working with airports and we’re doing all the things we are able to to ease these bottlenecks.”

Mercedes Stephenson: After weeks of airport chaos, Ottawa lifts vaccine mandates for air and rail passengers. However with some restrictions remaining, the federal government is underneath stress to carry all of them. Will it occur? We’ll ask Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra.

And, the finance minister makes her pitch to Canadians on the Liberal authorities’s plan to assist in turbulent occasions, from rising rates of interest to excessive inflation.

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Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister: “Whereas combating inflation is the Central Financial institution’s job, good authorities coverage could make it simpler.”

Mercedes Stephenson: Is it new? And is it sufficient? We’ll ask economist Don Drummond to actuality test the federal government’s Affordability Plan and weigh-in on whether or not we might be heading for a recession.

Jean Charest, Conservative Management Candidate: “I need to unite the social gathering and I need to supply a nationwide imaginative and prescient not primarily based on anger.” 

Mercedes Stephenson: Jean Charest says he’s one of the best candidate to unify the Conservative Social gathering however he must win the management first. We’ll ask him about his path to victory and frontrunner Pierre Poilievre.

It’s Sunday, June 19th, and that is The West Block.

Thanks for becoming a member of us right now, I’m Mercedes Stephenson.

Summer time journey is simply across the nook, however lengthy safety and customs traces have created chaos at Canada’s greatest airports. Some vaccine mandates are lifting, beginning tomorrow, however others will stay. Let’s break it down and take a look at what’s going and what’s staying.

There might be no vaccine mandates to board a airplane or prepare for home and outbound worldwide journey. However all travellers coming in to Canada are required to be vaccinated. This consists of cross-border truckers. Anybody getting into Canada should nonetheless fill out their data on the ArriveCAN app, whether or not arriving by land or air. Vaccine mandates are nonetheless required for cruise ships and masks mandates stay in place.

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I’m joined by Transport Minister Omar Alghabra to speak about all of this now. Thanks a lot for becoming a member of us right now, minister. Good to see you.

Omar Alghabra, Transport Minister: Hello Mercedes, good to be with you and comfortable Father’s Day to your viewers. 

Mercedes Stephenson: Thanks. And, you already know, a lot of of us travelling for Father’s Day, doubtlessly. One thing they haven’t essentially been in a position to do for the previous couple of years, with all of the completely different variants of COVID. And I do know you might be no stranger to the problem of how lengthy it’s taking individuals to get via airports. Your authorities introduced some adjustments which will assist to ease a few of that when it comes to the mandates which are in place that we simply have been strolling via. There’s nonetheless numerous confusion and numerous wait occasions on the airport, and one factor that we preserve listening to from viewers is that they’re having to check-in hours and hours early. You may have promised there may be extra employees coming to assist with this, nevertheless it form of looks like your authorities didn’t take this severely within the first place. Ought to you might have moved extra rapidly?

Omar Alghabra, Transport Minister: Mercedes, we’re taking this situation extraordinarily severely. And simply so that you and your viewers know, that many economists predicted that the journey is not going to come again to regular till 2025. Nonetheless, given the phenomena and the surge that we’re witnessing right now, many are saying, actually, we’re going to come back again to regular possibly by the tip of this 12 months or subsequent 12 months and leisure journey is exceeding what 2019 ranges have been. What that tells us is that the surge that’s occurring is known as a new phenomenon. It’s nice information after the pandemic, nevertheless it’s clearly inflicting delays. However our authorities is performing. We’ve added nearly a thousand workers to CATSA, now nearly exceeding 2019 employment stage. We’re including employees to CBSA. We’re altering a few of the public well being guidelines. We’re working with airways and airports. So we’re centered on this. I do know it’s irritating and we’re taking this situation extraordinarily severely and we’re specializing in it urgently.

Mercedes Stephenson: I’m curious who these economists have been speaking to as a result of numerous of us have been saying they’re tremendous anxious to journey and see members of the family and get again on the highway. You probably did see early indicators of this that it was beginning to develop into an issue with three hour check-ins. When, when you’ve got these further employees coming, will Canada return to what’s the worldwide customary, which is that folks can arrive on the airport 45 minutes earlier than a home flight and one hour earlier than a world flight?

Omar Alghabra, Transport Minister: So talking of worldwide requirements, Mercedes, you already know the identical phenomenon is being skilled right now at Heathrow, at Amsterdam, at Dublin in Paris and lots of different airports world wide. Having mentioned that, it’s vital that we deal with it and we’re seeing enhancements right now. In truth, final week, we noticed a discount in ready time by 50 per cent. We’re now seeing that 90 per cent of passengers going via CATSA are ready 50 minutes or much less, which was a major enchancment from the place it was a couple of weeks in the past. So we’re performing and we’re persevering with so as to add sources. We anticipate the identical from the airways, from airports and we are going to stay centered on this till we ease and make sure that the expertise of travellers is extra environment friendly and handy.

Mercedes Stephenson: One controversial measure that’s remaining in place is the Arrive Canada app. I’ve tried to fill this out myself after I was getting back from reporting in Europe and numerous of us on the airplane have been having bother with it. The union behind the CBSA, the Canada Border Providers Company says that their border brokers have in impact develop into technical assist with people who find themselves struggling to make use of this app. The border mayors have requested you to do away with it. Why are you conserving the Arrive Can app in place when it’s creating so many delays and so many issues?

Omar Alghabra, Transport Minister: Mercedes, the Arrive Can device continues to be a helpful device for our border brokers. We nonetheless have vaccination necessities for worldwide arrivals, like many nations world wide. And ArriveCAN is a device that allows our customized brokers to confirm the vaccination standing of an arrival. Having mentioned all of that, we’re working with Public Well being Company, we’re working with CBSA. We’re working with airports and with travellers and border communities to make sure how we are able to enhance compliance of ArriveCAN. In the present day, now we have over 90 per cent compliance fee, however I do know that there’s extra that may be performed and we’re engaged on making certain that we are able to enhance the expertise of ArriveCAN. But it surely continues to be a vital device to guard the well being and security of Canadians.

Mercedes Stephenson: The Nationwide Airways Council of Canada put out an announcement saying that over 100 nations have eliminated the vaccination requirement for individuals flying into the nation. You’ve eliminated the vaccination requirement so you may fly inside Canada and get on trains in Canada should you’re not vaccinated and you’ll go away Canada on a airplane should you’re not vaccinated. Why is coming into Canada on a airplane completely different that you just determined to maintain the vaccines for that?

Omar Alghabra, Transport Minister: To start with, vaccines proceed to be a significant device in lowering the severity of the an infection. And to ensure that us to attenuate the chances of importing any kind of variant and defending our well being system, vaccination stays an vital device at our borders. And second, there are a lot of nations world wide that proceed to have a vaccine requirement at their borders, together with america and lots of European nations. So, it is a vital device. We’ve mentioned to Canadians from the start, we are going to proceed to be prudent, focussed on defending the well being and security of Canadians, centered on defending our well being care system, and vaccination necessities on the border is a component of that safety that we’re providing Canadians.

Mercedes Stephenson: We don’t have lengthy left, however one final query for you. Masking on planes and trains, are you eradicating that like america has?

Omar Alghabra, Transport Minister: So masks proceed to show to be an efficient device at lowering transmission. Science and information have confirmed and proceed to show that. Second, it’s a minor inconvenience that we’re asking travellers to endure that gives significant safety to themselves and to the passenger sitting subsequent to them in a small enclosed house. I’m pondering of an immune compromised individual or an aged one that’s travelling. So masks proceed to supply safety and we predict it’s a minor inconvenience that I do know that almost all passengers will really feel comfy getting on a airplane whereas everyone else is sporting masks.

Mercedes Stephenson: Minister Alghabra, I do know with the journey season hitting, it’s peak for the summer season. Beginning subsequent week, we might be watching carefully what’s occurring at airports. Thanks a lot for becoming a member of us right now.

Omar Alghabra, Transport Minister: Thanks, Mercedes.

Mercedes Stephenson: Up subsequent, the finance minister’s Affordability Plan. Is the federal government heading in the right direction? We’ll ask economist Don Drummond about inflation, stagflation and what Ottawa is doing to assist.


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Mercedes Stephenson: The rising price of residing from fuel to groceries is placing a pressure on Canadians, with no indicators of slowing down.

Final week, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland gave a speech on the Liberal plan to deal with inflation. She highlighted Ottawa’s $8.9 billion Affordability Plan, which was a re-announcement mainly of beforehand earmarked cash and applications by the federal government. What Freeland didn’t do is promise more cash on high of that. As an alternative, she careworn fiscal restraint. Did her plan strike the proper steadiness? And the way will it resonate on Bay Road and Most important Road?

Becoming a member of me to speak about that is famous economist and Queen’s College Fellow Don Drummond. Thanks a lot for becoming a member of us right now, Mr. Drummond. Good to see you.

Don Drummond, Economist and Fellow at Queen’s College: You’re welcome. Thanks.

Mercedes Stephenson: That is clearly a reasonably critical monetary scenario and folk are questioning what’s contributing to it and the way lengthy it should go on. What’s your evaluation on what’s led us so far and what we must always anticipate?

Don Drummond, Economist and Fellow at Queen’s College: Nicely, it began off with some particular components. We had the worldwide provide chains that have been choked and so numerous items you couldn’t get—like good luck getting a window or door. They’re months and months backlogged. And should you might get them, clearly, the worth was up. After which after all, we had the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has had two results that spiked gasoline costs and significantly with Europe being minimize off from the pure fuel, but in addition Ukraine is an unimaginable producer and exporter of agricultural merchandise and far of that has been minimize off from the market, in order that in all probability would have brought about the numerous inflation drawback itself. However then, now we’ve added on a brand new phenomenon and that’s the great old school extra demand. There’s numerous demand within the economic system working up in opposition to that constrained provide. And the best technique to perceive that’s to take a look at the labour market. The unemployment fee in Canada is only a tad above 5 per cent. We’ve had the present labour drive survey all the best way again to 1976 and that is lowest by far of the unemployment we’ve ever had. The flipside, now we have the best employment ratio and is widespread as the best employment ratio for ladies, highest employment ratio for Indigenous individuals, highest employment ratio for latest immigrants. You go on. The labour market is crimson sizzling and is being mirrored in wages. They’re going up double what the speed of inflation was. They’re not going up sufficient to cowl the [00:02:19 rate of inflation] nevertheless it’s not only a one shot marvel that’s hitting gasoline or agriculture in locations, it’s getting imbedded into price buildings to will increase in wages.

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Mercedes Stephenson: You’ve seen the federal government’s plan. Some of us thought that Madame Freeland would announce more cash. She didn’t do this. She’s erred extra on the facet of fiscal restraint for this authorities. They’ve clearly already spent some huge cash. What’s your evaluation of their plan? Is it going to assist Canadians?

Don Drummond, Economist and Fellow at Queen’s College: Nicely, I might have appreciated just a little bit lower than the [00:02:48] revision the historical past. They didn’t enhance the Outdated Age safety fee for the 75 plus to assist them with the surge of inflation. They didn’t even anticipate the surge of inflation. On the time, should you return to the announcement, that was to assist them with some prices associated to COVID. That they had extra deliveries and the like. Now apparently that is designed to it. So, that’s not likely fairly being honest. However the substance of it, there’s not a lot that they will do. In order that they didn’t do something new is definitely actually an excellent factor. There’s one axiom you may by no means escape in a authorities that they do one thing, any individual has to pay for it someday. So you may assist individual x and individual y will get it. The flavour of the month is minimize gasoline excise taxes, however guess who pays for that? The individuals who don’t refill the fuel tank and that doesn’t appear truthful, otherwise you borrow and also you stick the invoice to our youngsters and our grandchildren. We’re sending one heck of a invoice to them already, so I don’t need to see any extra of that. So I feel the reality is, sadly, there’s not a lot that we are able to do, given the economic system and significantly the labour market is crimson sizzling. They should be cool, and now we have to recollect though the Financial institution of Canada has raised rates of interest, as we sit right here proper this second, they’re nonetheless including stimulus. Their rates of interest nonetheless not within the vary they assume is impartial, a spread that might be in step with sustaining 2 per cent inflation, by no means thoughts breaking the inflation. Minister Freeland famous that they’re in fiscal restraint mode. Nicely that’s not true. They added $11 billion in that new spending within the finances they simply launched. So it’s not as stimulative as they have been earlier than, however they’re nonetheless including stimulus. So we’ve received this outbreak of inflation. Lots of its extra demand and now we have each the financial and the fiscal authority pouring fuel over it. It doesn’t make any sense. They’re each going to have to vary their coverage stance.

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Mercedes Stephenson: What ought to they modify them to?

Don Drummond, Economist and Fellow at Queen’s College: Nicely at a minimal, the Financial institution of Canada has to get into what they estimate is their impartial vary of rate of interest: 2 to three per cent. However I don’t assume that may do the trick. I feel the inflation pressures are too embedded. They should elevate the charges about 3 per cent, and there’s numerous chatter: do they do this and proceed 50 foundation factors? Do they do the 75? I don’t assume it issues. I feel they need to be simple with Canadians and say look, rates of interest are going to up fairly a bit extra. And we’re not simply seeing short-term rates of interest going up, we’re seeing the long term rates of interest go up. And the federal government has to place just a little extra stress to try to get again to a balanced finances. Not instantly, you don’t need to trigger a recession by all of the sudden withdrawing the stimulus. However bear in mind, their final finances simply added extra stimulus. They’ll’t be doing that anymore No less than step one was whenever you’re within the gap, don’t preserve digging. And so they didn’t add extra expenditure in that assertion. It could have been good if they simply mentioned listed here are the explanations for it. It’s largely going to be on the shoulders of the financial authority and there’s not a lot that we are able to do about it.

Mercedes Stephenson: I do know, Mr. Drummond, simply earlier than the interview we have been speaking about historic inflation after which actually, it’s been the final 15 years which were very nice for customers and for folk which were out of step with the historic norm. You’re saying that is going to proceed. We’re out of time for right now, however we’ll definitely be again sooner or later as a result of it looks like sadly, this isn’t going away and we’re going again to these excessive inflation charges of the previous. Thanks a lot for becoming a member of us.

Don Drummond, Economist and Fellow at Queen’s College: You’re welcome. Bye.

Mercedes Stephenson: Up subsequent, a brand new Leger survey on the Conservative management race reveals Pierre Poilievre because the best choice for Conservative voters. However Jean Charest says he nonetheless has a path to victory. We’ll ask him how, subsequent.


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Mercedes Stephenson: Jean Charest is pitching himself as a political unifier who can problem Justin Trudeau. Together with his centrist model of conservatism and in depth political expertise, that might play properly in Ontario and Quebec.

Charest says he’s creating a house for political orphans along with his massive tent method. However critics say his marketing campaign has struggled to achieve steam. And, there was, after all, the very public, very bitter, and at occasions, very private feud with the Pierre Poilievre marketing campaign over populism and the way forward for conservatism. And that has captured a lot of the oxygen across the management race.

Charest has constructed coalitions earlier than, however can he do it contained in the fracturing Conservative Social gathering? Former federal cupboard minister and former Quebec premier, Jean Charest joins us now. Thanks a lot for being with us right now, Mr. Charest. How are you?

Jean Charest, Conservative Management Candidate: I’m very properly, Mercedes. I’m delighted to affix you.

Mercedes Stephenson: You understand you’re a acquainted face in Canadian politics. And we’ve spoken to you a lot occasions over time, however that is the primary time as a Conservative management candidate.

Again in 2020, you’d mentioned you didn’t actually acknowledge the Conservative Social gathering anymore, whenever you have been contemplating a management run then. Clearly, your thoughts has modified in regards to the worth of the doing this and whether or not or not you may win. So why do you imagine you’re the proper chief for the social gathering and why now?

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Jean Charest, Conservative Management Candidate: Nicely the social gathering wants a unifier. The social gathering wants a pacesetter in a position to unify the caucus, unify the membership, current a nationwide imaginative and prescient very a lot centered on the economic system as a result of we’re struggling now from the Trudeau authorities with their lack of financial management and even understanding. And we additionally want a pacesetter, Mercedes, who’s going to have the ability to win a nationwide authorities. And of all of the candidates on this management race, I’m the one one who will have the ability to do this, to broaden the bottom, rally the nation, win a nationwide authorities and permit us to have a real nationwide Conservative authorities. That’s the plan right here and I intend to do precisely that.

Mercedes Stephenson: I needed to ask you about some polling numbers that now we have and it definitely reveals that you’ve got one of the best likelihood of increasing the bottom in a federal election into in any other case Liberal and NDP voters. You got here out by far, the most well-liked of the Conservative candidates on that. 25 per cent of Liberals and 25 per cent of NDP voters would select you over the following closest, which was, I imagine, Mr. Brown at 11 per cent. Nonetheless, contained in the Conservative Social gathering, you’re not polling almost as properly. Once I take a look at these numbers, it’s displaying Pierre Poilievre with 44 per cent saying they’d vote for him and solely 14 per cent who mentioned they vote for you. Are you able to win this?

Jean Charest, Conservative Management Candidate: Nicely the reply is sure, and I’ll win this. And all of this, by the best way, is a management race that’s primarily based on 100 factors per driving. So the variety of members is ok. I imply it’s related, however when you’ve got 10 thousand members in a single driving, it’s value 100 factors and 100 members in a single driving, it’s value 100 factors. So the entire situation right here is, as we work our manner via the summer season, Mercedes, we’ll be speaking to the members about what the selection is. I feel the important thing query is: Are you uninterested in shedding? We’ve misplaced three consecutive election campaigns. And it isn’t a lot that Mr. Trudeau received the final marketing campaign. The Conservatives really misplaced the final marketing campaign. I’ll make this social gathering win. And I’ll win a nationwide authorities.

Mercedes Stephenson: Nicely and I hear you on the numbers reflecting that extra broadly, however you would need to win the management first. And even membership gross sales apart, the polling numbers are displaying that if Pierre Poilievre is getting 44 per cent, doubtlessly, inside and also you’re getting 14, that’s a reasonably large chasm to shut. So why do you assume the numbers are displaying that should you imagine you’re going to win?

Jean Charest, Conservative Management Candidate: We’ve run a management marketing campaign very a lot on the bottom stage and with content material, by the best way. I’m the one candidate on this race who has actually come out with coverage proposals that inform our membership the place I stand on points so that they’ll know what they’re voting for. And now we have now till the remainder of the summer season to ensure that we get the proper votes in the proper locations. Our marketing campaign has been environment friendly throughout Canada, and we’re very assured that on the purpose system that I’ve simply referred to, that we’ll win. And by the best way, Mercedes, I imply the historical past of the final two management races has been very clear: the frontrunner has misplaced. And the rationale for that’s that they high out on the primary poll. They’re nobody’s second selection, which could be very a lot the story for Mr. Poilievre. And whoever are the strongest, finally ends up successful the race. That’s how Erin O’Toole grew to become chief and that’s how Andrew Scheer grew to become chief, and that’s how I’ll develop into the chief of this social gathering.

Mercedes Stephenson: So who’s candidate—pardon me—whose voters do you imagine would go to you in that membership? As a result of I might see possibly Leslyn Lewis’ voters going to somebody like Mr. Poilievre. Who’s the pure one that falls off that first poll, whose voters then transfer to you as their second selection?

Jean Charest, Conservative Management Candidate: Nicely there’s, you already know, to start with, there’s a complete chunk of the membership that was there earlier than the race began. After which there’s greater than 100 thousand people who find themselves, let’s name them walk-ins, who simply took up a membership with out going via any of the candidates. And we all know {that a} plurality of these people goes to be supporting me on this management race. So these are the individuals who could be voting for me.

On the second poll, I undoubtedly—we undoubtedly know that the consensus candidates on second selection is my marketing campaign and my candidacy. So whether or not—regardless of who the opposite candidates are, I feel I’m the popular second selection of all of the candidates and all of the members on this management race.

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Mercedes Stephenson: There’s been numerous pressure between you and Pierre Poilievre’s marketing campaign, and Mr. Poilievre. That’s been no secret. Why are you so upset with Mr. Poilievre? And are you fearful that being so publicly vital of one another is taking the main focus off holding the federal government to account and placing it onto your personal social gathering?

Jean Charest, Conservative Management Candidate: Nicely I’ve been very open, Mercedes, about debating this management race. In truth, I’ve received a debate—one other debate organized by the social gathering. It’s Mr. Poilievre who doesn’t need to debate. We’ve requested to have the interim record of the management membership. Mr. Poilievre has mentioned he doesn’t need that. We’ve been very open and clear about the place we stand on points, and I’ll go away it to Mr. Poilievre to proceed to cover and never need to speak to the press, not need to speak to the membership or the social gathering and run this hide-and-seek marketing campaign. And so be it. However on the finish of the day, the members will need to know what they’re voting for and the place we every stand. And in my case, they’re going to get a really clear Conservative selection as a nationwide Conservative authorities. It is a made-in-Canada Conservative management race for me and agenda. It’s a made-in-Canada Conservative authorities that I’m going to supply Canadians.

Mercedes Stephenson: Mr. Charest, thanks a lot for taking the time to affix us right now and sharing your views on the management.

Jean Charest, Conservative Management Candidate: Thanks, Mercedes. Bye-bye.

Mercedes Stephenson: That’s it for our present for right now. Thanks for watching. All of us right here at The West Block wish to want a cheerful Father’s Day to all of the dads on the market, and to all of the dads who work on this present. Dads maintain a particular place in our hearts and in our lives, and I do know I positive miss mine. For The West Block, I’m Mercedes Stephenson.

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