The House

Midweek podcast: New Trudeau cabinet ahead of Trump's inauguration

On The House midweek podcast, Chris Hall talks to former foreign affairs adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Roland Paris, about Chrystia Freeland becoming foreign affairs minister and John McCallum becoming ambassador to China. We also share our listeners' concerns about our recent interview with Conservative candidate Kellie Leitch.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks alongside Chrystia Freeland at a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan 10, 2017, after she was sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs during a cabinet shuffle at Rideau Hall. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Justin Trudeau is getting ready for the Trump era to begin.

On top of having top aides meet with key members of the incoming U.S. president's transition team, the prime minister has named Chrystia Freeland Canada's new top diplomat, replacing veteran politician Stéphane Dion as foreign affairs minister. 

The move was the main headline of this week's cabinet shuffle.

"The primary consideration here was to arrange a team that was best suited to be able to deal with the particular challenge... and opportunities of the incoming Trump administration, but also to be able to deal with our trade opportunities elsewhere including China, including closing CETA," former Trudeau foreign affairs adviser Roland Paris told The House.

On top of her new job title, Freeland will also continue to be responsible for trade with the United States. That means she'll continue to handle the complex softwood lumber negotiations, and would be the one to oversee any potential NAFTA renegotiations.

"She will be the kind of 'super minister' for Canada-U.S. relations," Paris said.

How should the media cover Kellie Leitch?

Kellie Leitch answers a question during Question Period in the House of Commons, Monday, Sept. 15, 2014 in Ottawa. As the Conservative leadership slate continues to expand, two of the most prominent contenders are jockeying for attention and support. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Following our interview with Conservative candidate Kellie Leitch on Saturday, a lot of listeners took to Twitter and wrote us emails expressing their disapproval.

Here's a small sample of the emails we received:

Dexter Bishop wrote:

"I am concerned that this continuing series of interviews with [Kellie] Leitch and her ilk is giving her more oxygen than is deserved.  It is understandable that the range of views be aired, but the result is a legitimisation of prejudice. We do not need to head down the U.S. route."

This from Sarah Dickinson:

"Please cut back the air time that you are dedicating to this woman. I fear that, like in the U.S., the viewpoint of intention being more important than fact is being perpetuated."

From Kirby Evans:

"How many times are you going to give a national, open platform to Kellie Leitch's racist ideas?????? It baffles me how irresponsible you can be with your own future and the future of this nation! People scratch their heads and wonder how Donald Trump got elected. Well, he got elected because of people like you in the media who gave him a never ending opportunity to spout his views, while leaving other, more reasonable candidates to wallow in obscurity."

From Pattie Groome:

"PLEASE stop giving Kelly Leach a soapbox. I was compelled to turn off my radio!"

So, how should the media cover controversial ideas put forward by politicians? 

We tackle the topic with CBC parliamentary bureau chief Rob Russo and Carleton University's Chris Waddell.

Veterans' ombudsman: "have we done enough?"

Canada's veterans ombudsman Guy Parent says veterans shouldn't face a patchwork of mental health services when they leave the forces. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The veterans' ombudsman told The House his focus following the tragic murder-suicide involving an Afghanistan war veteran in Nova Scotia will be to make sure veterans across the country get consistent treatment, despite regional differences.

This week, Afghanistan war veteran Lionel Desmond and his family will be buried in Nova Scotia. RCMP say Desmond shot his wife, daughter and mother in their rural home last week before killing himself.

Multiple members of his family say he sought treatment at the Saint Martha's hospital in Antigonish, N.S., the day before the killings, but was turned away — something the hospital disputes.

"Regional inconsistencies are unfair in themselves. Veterans and military people don't retire all in the same place," Guy Parent told host Chris Hall. 

"Our veterans served their country and fought not just for the government in Ottawa, they fought for all their own municipalities and all that so their should we a link there."

Parent suggested the regional Veterans' Affairs offices provide more outreach and the provincial government inform community hospitals about how to guide veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to appropriate centres.

"How does the information flow up, not just down?" he asked.

"[The Desmond case] drives you to think, 'have we done enough?" As the representative of veterans of Canada and a special advisor to the minister of veterans' affairs, it is my duty to make sure programs are up to date. It's always a time of reflection."