The House

Ahead of Trump presidency, NATO braces itself for possible Russian test

This week on The House, the election of Donald Trump continues to raise questions on a number of fronts, including security and defence. How will the arrival of the billionaire businessman in the White House affect NATO? General Petr Pavel, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, joins us. Then, with the federal government expected to soon announce where in Africa it will send Canadian peacekeepers, we speak to Hervé Ladsous. The UN's Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations talks about what role he wants Canadians to play... and the risks associated with that role.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia is working to develop new weapons to ensure a global strategic balance. (Alexei Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump's impending move to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is doing little to dispel concerns from the Baltic states about a revitalized Russia, something NATO's top general is watching closely.

"We have to deal with Russia as a country that is using military power to pursue its political objectives. We are doing our best to deter them from any such intention," Gen. Petr Pavel told The House this week.

This week, Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told the BBC that the Russian leader may test NATO in the weeks before Trump becomes president.

"Russia is not a superpower, it's a super problem," Linkevicius told the British news outlet. "I'm very afraid and concerned about this period not just because of the regions which are close to here, but let's hope that Aleppo is not smashed from the ground by then."

Pavel said he doesn't think Russia would provoke NATO "at this point," but didn't rule out an eventual test.

"Given the unpredictability of Russian behaviour, it's difficult to talk about anything 100 per cent," he said. 

"From a large point of view, I don't believe Russia would gain anything from testing NATO at this point because if President Putin says he wants to have more dialogue with the United States, and even NATO, such an action wouldn't support that effort."

How will the arrival Donald Trump in the White House affect NATO? General Petr Pavel, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, joins us.

Canadian peacekeepers 'in for a very long run'

The Trudeau government announced it will send up to 600 troops abroad for peacekeeping. A decision of where in Africa they will go is expected soon. (AFP/Getty Images)

The United Nation's head of peacekeeping operations says Canada's peacekeepers could spend a long time in Africa, wherever this country's troops end up.

"I think we are in for a very long run," Hervé Ladsous, the UN under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, told The House.

"That is not to say that I'm looking for open-ended commitments from this or that contributing country.

To assure reliability, Ladsous said he's looking at having participating countries commit to bringing in special units for periods of time.

The Canadian government announced this summer it will commit $450 million to peace operations and deploy up to 600 troops as part of the mission to Africa.

The location hasn't been announced yet, but earlier this month Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan travelled to Mali and Senegal.

Ladsous said the UN has made progress in Western Africa, but "there is this threat of the jihadists."

"We get attacked on a regular basis," he conceded.

The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, talks about what role he wants Canadians to play... and the risks associated with that role.

Expect protests "like you've never seen before" over Kinder Morgan pipeline, says Vancouver mayor

Mayor Gregor Robertson is continuing his fight against Kinder Morgan's oil pipeline expansion. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

With growing signs the federal government will support an expansion of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline, Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson says public opposition to the project could soon boil over.

"The temperature is already very hot on this," Robertson told host Chris Hall on CBC Radio's The House. "I think you'll see protests like you've never seen before on this one."

Robertson's warning came just days after the federal Minister of Natural Resources, Jim Carr, gave another indication the federal government may support the controversial project.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday about the impact of Donald Trump's presidency on Canada's pipeline plans, Carr said the rival Keystone XL project is no longer a priority for the federal government, because it "doesn't get oil to export markets in Asia."

Winding along a 1,150-kilometre route through Alberta and B.C., the Trans Mountain pipeline carries Alberta oil and refined petroleum from Edmonton to Burnaby, an export gateway to Asian markets. If approved, the expansion would almost triple the pipeline's existing capacity to 890,000 barrels.

The federal cabinet must make its final decision on the proposal by Dec. 19.

With Justin Trudeau's cabinet forced to make a decision on Kinder Morgan before the end of the year, Gregor Robertson says there will be a huge political price to pay if the project gets the green light.

Canada needs to wake up to opioid crises: Christy Clark

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark talks to reporters at a news conference regarding the impact of opioid overdose on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Thursday, November 17, 2016. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

Canada would be paying more attention to its opioid problem if the overdose deaths primarily affected Ontario, says British Columbia premier Christy Clark.

Earlier this week her province's coroner's service revealed more than 600 people have died from drug overdoses in the first 10 months of 2016, an average of about two people every day.

"It is a deadly toxic substance. If this had happened in Ontario there would be 2,000 people dead and I think the country would really be paying attention," Clark told The House.

Clark and her health minister met with federal ministers on Thursday to talk about the crises. At her side was Leslie McBain, a woman who lost her son to an overdose.

During the meeting McBain laid 26 photos of people who have died from opioids on the table for the ministers to confront.

"I believe it just takes the whole machine of government goes at a fairly glacial speed... no person can actually not be sympathetic to this problem. I believe there has been immobilization. It has been slow and while it has been slow people die," McBain told host Chris Hall.

Clark said the province's needs help from the health, public safety and global affairs departments.

For starters, she'd like to see Canada undertake diplomatic efforts with China to stop illegal drugs before they get to Canada.

"We are understaffed by 30 per cent in federal drug enforcement officers in B.C. in the RCMP. We can't fill that gap on our own. We're trying," Clark said. "It's a federal responsibility."

When asked about Clark's comment on China, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Canada wants "to have a very strong international dialogue with counterparts around the world."

It's been called a crisis and a public health emergency. This week, B.C. Premier Christy Clark came to Ottawa to discuss the growing number of opioid overdoses in her province with several federal officials, and plead for additional help.

The state of the Conservative leadership race

Conservative leadership candidate Brad Trost, right, responds to questions from the audience at a Conservative leadership debate in Greely, Ont., on Sunday, November 13, 2016. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

With 12 candidates still vying to replace Stephen Harper as the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, The House's Chris Hall spoke with two Conservative strategists who have been keeping a close eye on the race.

Chad Rogers, a partner with Crestview Strategy, and Rachel Curran, former policy director to prime minister Stephen Harper, both had a lot to say about Kellie Leitch's hard line on immigration.

"It's pulling her out of the pack," said Rogers. "What she is running around the country saying is: 'Foreigners are scary, and I'm going to stand up and say foreigners are scary,'" echoing U.S. president-elect Donald Trump's campaign.

But while politicians in the U.S. and Europe have had success talking tough on immigration, Curran doesn't think that will happen in Canada.

"We don't have a real policy problem, a real immigration policy problem underlying Kellie Leitch's rhetoric," she said. "It's certainly not a successful strategy in a general election. I don't even think it's going to be a successful strategy in a leadership race."

While Leitch and other candidates may be making headlines, Curran and Rogers agreed the race actually belongs to whichever candidate best engages directly with party members.

"What's really going to matter is which candidates are out there in church basements and conference halls meeting with Conservative Party members," said Curran.

"By-elections and leaderships are not like normal elections. The same rules don't apply," Rogers said. "The true to-and-fro of a leadership is who's selling memberships."

Is anybody slowly emerging from the crowded field of candidates hoping to replace Stephen Harper at the helm of the Conservative party? We check in with Conservative insiders Chad Rogers and Rachel Curran.

Meanwhile, the leadership race for the Alberta Progressive Conservative party just experienced a pretty dramatic turn of events.

Following her decision to drop out of the contest after being harassed and intimidated by supporters of another candidate, Sandra Jansen made another move.

Former PC MLA Sandra Jansen (left) and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shook hands following a news conference announcing Jansen had joined the NDP caucus. (CBC)

She joined the governing NDP.

"There was a huge contingent of people that have come in, they've bought PC party memberships, and they are looking to take over the party," she told The House.

"For myself, knowing that there are a whole lot of people who are now PC party members who are extremely socially conservative is something you can't walk back," Jansen said.

She added that she wasn't comfortable with the party going in that direction.

She also explained that the people who harassed her were supporters of leadership candidate and former federal MP and cabinet minister Jason Kenney.

Former PC leadership candidate discusses her decision to quit the party and join Rachel Notley's government.