The House

In House - A Challenging Week Abroad

Still dealing with the realities of the transition, Justin Trudeau had a challenging week abroad. The new Prime Minister had to attend his first international gatherings in the immediate aftermath of the Paris attacks. How did he handle the challenge? We ask our In House panelists Mark Kennedy and Tonda McCharles.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a bilateral meeting with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the margins of the APEC Summit in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, November 18, 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press )

Still dealing with the realities of the transition, Justin Trudeau had a challenging week abroad. The new Prime Minister had to attend his first international gatherings in the immediate aftermath of the Paris attacks. How did he handle the challenge? We ask our In House panelists, the Ottawa Citizen's parliamentary bureau chief Mark Kennedy and Tonda MacCharles, parliamentary reporter for the Toronto Star.

Can Justin Trudeau pull out the CF-18s without making it seem like Canada is pulling out of the fight against ISIS?

Tonda MacCharles: Unless we hear that he's turned down an ask from our allies, unless we hear that Barack Obama or Francois Hollande are pressuring to keep the planes in the coalition, unless we hear that NATO's going to back this mission now...if we don't know that there's pressure on him that he's rejected, I think he can do it.

Mark Kennedy: Planes are coming home — we all know that, because if anything, this is a politician who knows that in the first months of his mandate, the last thing he needs is for people to say, 'you broke a promise!' His task is to convince Canadians that by bringing the CF-18s home, and putting the emphasis instead on training local forces, it's enough to defeat ISIS.

Has the government made a convincing case about its ability to do security checks on refugees both rapidly and thoroughly?

TM: I think the Liberal government would do much better to explain [how they'll do this] much sooner. People who aren't telling you anything don't help matters. I think Canadians do want to hear what's involved, and be reassured.

MK: I think if Canadians were told this [resettlement] was going to happen over a period of six or seven months, their concerns might not be as strong as they are. There's the perception there — and in politics perception is as important and as damaging as reality — that the process is happening too quickly. I don't think anyone would complain if the deadline slipped a little.

Will the Prime Minister and the premiers be able to conjure up a national consensus on emissions to take to the Paris climate talks when they meet on Monday?

TM: I'm not sure they can come up with a number. I think they could talk about the no-go zones and the green projects they think could actually make a different. If they come out [of Monday's meeting] with some ideas of what they can do and what they won't do, that's already better than going into Paris with nothing.

MK: It's a little embarrassing as a nation going to an international summit and not being able to say anything beyond what the previous government said [the last time]. It all comes down to, will some provinces outdo others? What if not all the provinces pull their load? Where does that leave the nation?

The Duffy trial started up again this week. Should we tune this one out?

TM: I went to the courthouse every day of that trial for 3.5 months, and when I went back this week, absolutely a lot of oxygen had gone out of the room. But it's still going to be fascinating when Mike Duffy takes the stand.

MK: It's theatre at it's best. It also speaks to our national institutions. We need to know if there were mistakes occurring in that institution, and we need to learn from them if that's the case.

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