Conrad Black predicts NDP will 'slip' in Quebec
Former media baron talks Senate, Syria and cap-and-trade on Power & Politics
With just three weeks to go until election day and the three main federal parties in a near deadlock, historian, author and former media baron Conrad Black made a bold prediction.
The NDP — despite speculation they could win much of Quebec and the election — "are going to slip," Black said Sunday in an interview on CBC News Network's Power & Politics.
"They're not going to hold that vote in Quebec."
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Black instead said there will likely be a minority government and that it's a "distinct possibility" the Conservatives will end up as the largest party.
But will they form a government?
"I don't think Justin [Trudeau] and Thomas Mulcair would vote confidence in a government led by Harper," he said, before putting forward what he admitted is a "complicated" theory.
"If the Conservatives came back as a minority and changed leaders, and if they just took Justin's platform and put it in as their throne speech, they could lead the House and win a vote."
More vulnerable than Tories, Liberals
Black pointed to what he called "greater vulnerabilities to the NDP's position," including leader Tom Mulcair's commitment to balancing the budget and increasing spending without raising taxes.
The chances of Christians being jihadists are quite slight.— Conrad Black
Black noted Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has vowed to balance the budget, while Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau plans to run a "modest deficit."
"I'm not saying which of these views is the best, but the Conservatives and the Liberals are plausible and the NDP is not," he said.
Black added the NDP's policy on Quebec secession — that a "50 per cent plus one" vote is sufficient — is "absolute eyewash and everyone knows it."
Cap-and-trade 'an insane idea'
Black also took issue with the NDP's proposed national cap-and-trade program.
"Cap-and-trade won't work," he said bluntly. "We all care about the environment, but cap-and-trade is an insane idea. It won't fly."
"You end up with spurious trade-offs, and you're investing all your authority as a government in unproven theories of the influence of carbon use on climate change," he said.
The NDP has said it will set up a national market of cap-and-trade certificates in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from polluting industries. The issue is that many provinces have already decided to impose their own regimes to put a price on carbon, so the proposed plan would require some wrangling with the provinces.
The NDP's vow to abolish the Senate also depends on provincial consensus and, not surprisingly, the man otherwise known as Baron Black of Crossharbour in the British House of Lords had plenty to say on that as well.
Serious countries … don't sit around with obsolescent political institutions.— Conrad Black
Black said he sides with the Liberal stance on reforming Canada's upper house.
"I agree with Justin. I think we're better off making it a serious and respected positive contribution to the structure of the government," he said.
"And while we're at it, we should get rid of this anomaly of the governor-general and clarify the status of the monarchy," he added.
Black said accomplishing all of that is more reasonable than abolishing the Senate, as the NDP have promised if handed a mandate.
"It could be done. Serious countries do it. They don't sit around with obsolescent political institutions indefinitely."
Black also took a shot at the Conservatives' approach to dealing with the troubled Senate.
"Stephen Harper's solution is just peevish nonsense," he said. "He went to the Supreme Court to ask if it was acceptable constitutionally for one House of Parliament to abolish the other. Well, of course it isn't, and a moron could have told him that."
One thing Black agrees with Harper on is the Conservatives' response to the Syrian refugee crisis, which continues as tens of thousands of Syrians stream into European countries.
Last week, the Conservative government said it will speed up the processing of refugee applications in an effort to bring in 10,000 Syrian refugees by September 2016.
"The Prime Minister has moved very sensibly in this," Black said.
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"There's no reason why Canada couldn't accept some refugees, but of course they have to be screened, and of course we can't import terrorists," he said.
"But the fact is, half a million of the people who fled are Christians, and the chances of Christians being jihadists are quite slight. I'm not saying we should only accept Christians, but we can certainly be reasonably confident that the Christians aren't security risks."
Watch the full interview in the player.