The House

Premiers leave Council of the Federation in unity... mostly

This week on The House, CBC senior reporter Salimah Shivji gives a debrief on the premiers' meeting. We talk about the controversial expansion of the Chateau Laurier with architectural historian Peter Coffman. Cartoonist Michael de Adder defends his Trump cartoon and finally, we look at the significance of putting neo-Nazi groups on the terrorist list with national security expert Leah West.

This week on The House: Premiers meeting, the Chateau Laurier expansion, political cartoons and more

Canada's Premiers, left to right, Sandy Silver, Yukon, Dwight Ball, Newfoundland and Labrador, Brian Pallister, Manitoba, Stephen McNeil, Nova Scotia, Doug Ford, Ontario, Scott Moe, Saskatchewan, Francois Legault, Quebec, Blaine Higgs, New Brunswick, John Horgan, British Columbia, Jason Kenney, Alberta and Joe Savikataaq, Nunavut are seen during a closing news conference following a meeting of Canada's Premiers in Saskatoon, Sask. Thursday, July 11, 2019. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)
Listen to the full episode49:59

Most of Canada's premiers left their annual gathering saying there's a sense of unity across the country — but some had a very different opinion. 

At the last Council of the Federation meeting before the election, the premiers talked trade, heathcare, and natural resources. 

Many premiers said they left the Saskatoon meeting feeling a sense of harmony, but Scott Moe of Saskatchewan and Jason Kenney of Alberta pointed out there's still alienation over oil and gas and a growing sense in their provinces of feeling forgotten. 

So, what did the meeting accomplish? And how could the outcome shape the federal vote? 

Our senior reporter Salimah Shivji was in Saskatoon this week covering the meeting and prepared this special report for The House. 

CBC Senior Reporter Salimah Shivji was in Saskatchewan covering the premiers' meetings all week. She sits down with Chris Hall to explain the issues that took centre stage, how the premiers got along, and what message they're sending to Ottawa. 8:20

Pivotal moment for architecture in wake of Chateau Laurier plans

Larco Investments has had its architects do five versions of an addition for the Château Laurier. The fifth and final one is several storeys shorter and has more limestone than the first. (Larco Investments)

An architectural historian says the contentious planned addition to the Chateau Laurier could be the wake-up call Canada needs to better protect historic buildings. 

This week Ottawa city council upheld last year's heritage approval for a new wing at the national historic site overlooking Major's Hill Park, despite some fierce political manoeuvring over two days.

Critics and passersby have called it a box, a bunker and said it looks like U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall. 

Peter Coffman says it's almost unthinkable this could happen in Canada's capital city, to a building so integral to Ottawa's skyline.

"Imagine this happening in Washington or London or Paris [it] would be absolutely unthinkable, the prospect wouldn't even be raised," he told The House.

Coffman says Canadian regulations protecting historical sites are extremely weak. But there could be a silver lining.

"This could be the big wake up moment for for heritage in Canada and heritage architecture."

Ottawa City Council refused this week to overturn a controversial expansion of the iconic Château Laurier Hotel in spite of an intense public backlash to the box-like design of the addition. Architectural historian Peter Coffman explains how much Ottawa's sightlines are about to change. And he argues that Canada needs stronger rules in place to conserve its historical sites. 9:42

MPs, government organizations and private companies have debated the hotel's proposed addition for months. 

The design would "dramatically change the view" of downtown Ottawa, especially from the nearby Major's Hill Park, Coffman warned. 

But the precedent is more concerning to him than this particular case.

"If our heritage laws allow this to happen to the Chateau Laurier, than who's safe?"


Cartoonist wouldn't change anything about Trump image

(Mairin Prentiss/CBC)

Political cartoonist Michael de Adder says he may have gone too far with some of his drawings, but he wouldn't change the depiction of Donald Trump he attributes with him getting fired.

The illustrator's freelance contract with Brunswick News Inc. was terminated after he shared a viral cartoon depicting U.S. President Donald Trump playing golf next to the face-down bodies of two Salvadorian migrants. BNI maintains cutting ties with de Adder had nothing to do with the Trump cartoon.

"I wouldn't do that one differently," de Adder said in an interview with CBC Radio's The House. 

While de Adder has continued to publish work with other media outlets, there's a new emerging threat to his livelihood.

Some experts argue political memes could replace cartooning in the near future.

De Adder isn't so sure.

"There's no accountability to them … Most of them are crapola done in five minutes and quickly distributed."

Political cartoonist Michael de Adder says he may have gone too far with some of his drawings, but he wouldn't change the depiction of Donald Trump he attributes with him getting fired. 7:45

Jennifer Grygiel, a communications professor at Syracuse University, told The House it's the natural progression of cartooning to see papers decline and social media thrive. 

"The public is consuming vast amounts of social media and Instagram, Twitter you name it, they're not necessarily going to go to a digital publisher's site or even get a newspaper," said Grygiel. 

With memes — images with text overlay that's usually humorous — taking over the Internet, the professor says the political world is following. 

Grygiel says it's a way to diversify who creates the content, as political cartoonists are predominantly older white men. 

But where they come from isn't always clear.

Michael de Adder released this cartoon on June 26 of Donald Trump next to the bodies of a father and daughter who died trying to cross the border into Texas. (Michael de Adder)

With cartoons, de Adder argued, you know their origin, who is creating them, and who you can criticize. That transparency disappears with memes. 

"You can get around everything through a meme, you go straight to the public," he said. "They're more easily corrupted." 


Be wary of 'dog whistling' to extremist groups, expert warns politicians

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - AUGUST 13: Counter-protesters on August 13, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

As the election draws closer, one national security expert says politicians need to be cautious of their connections to extremist groups. 

The Liberal government recently added two neo-Nazi groups to Canada's list of recognized terrorist organizations.

Leah West, who lectures at Carleton University, says it's time the government showed Canada is operating against these threats. 

"It's a symbol that Canada is taking these groups seriously and treating them now as a terrorist organization. And it's also a signal to the minority communities that are targeted by these groups that we are taking the threat to you seriously," she told The House. 

With an election in the fall, some critics have said the government is playing politics with extremism. West said that's not necessarily the case. 

"I do see it being linked perhaps to the Christchurch Call that happened after the attacks in New Zealand. Canada firmly committed to that call into taking actions against that kind of terrorism and violence perpetrated against Muslim communities, for example," she said." 

This spring, 51 people were killed in shootings at two mosques in New Zealand. Canada has been involved in a coordinated response to extremism and violence online in conjunction with their government.

"I think that there is a true and growing threat and the government's responding."

As the election draws closer, one national security expert says politicians need to be cautious of their connections to extremist groups.  5:56

However, West cautioned politicians and parties to be wary of saying or doing things that would invite extremists to infiltrate their movements. 

"Politicians need to avoid dog whistling to these types of groups going forward as they seek to grow support for themselves in their election."

West used the example of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife photographed with Jaspal Atwal — a Canadian of Indian descent who was convicted of attempted murder for trying to assassinate Indian cabinet minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu while he was visiting Vancouver Island in 1986 — during an official visit to India last year.

People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier has also been criticized for posing for a photo with members of an organization described as a hate group in Calgary on Sunday.

West said she wouldn't be surprised if more organizations on the far right are added to the terrorism list in the future. And if not, the message has still been sent. 

"This is a clear signal to other organizations, other like minded organizations, that your actions are being considered as terrorism."

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