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Monday, January 23, 2017

Conservative leadership debate coming to Halifax

Federal candidates will take part in event as part of provincial party's AGM.

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 3:58 PM

Kevin O'Leary will be one of 13 entrepreneurs pitching themselves to investors. - VIA CANDIDATE'S TWITTER
  • Kevin O'Leary will be one of 13 entrepreneurs pitching themselves to investors.

Thirteen of the candidates vying to lead the federal Conservative Party will debate each other next weekend in Halifax.

According to a press release from the PC party, Chris Alexander, Maxime Bernier, Steven Blaney, Michael Chong, Kellie Leitch, Pierre Lemieux, Kevin O’Leary, Erin O’Toole, Rick Peterson, Lisa Raitt, Andrew Saxton, Andrew Scheer and Brad Trost are all confirmed for a debate that will take place February 4 as part of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party’s annual general meeting.

Calgary Forest Lawn MP Deepak Obhrai, also in the running, will not be attending.

Though the debate isn’t being organized by the federal party, it will be the first time so many Conservative candidates will take the stage since TV personality O’Leary entered the race last week, just after the French-language debate. It will also be the first time O’Leary and Leitch—both outspoken candidates who’ve drawn unfriendly comparisons to Donald Trump—will clash in front of party voters and the press.

Next weekend’s debate will be English-only, and moderated by Conservative shadow critic for ACOA, Rob Moore.

Nova Scotia PC media advisor Angie Zinck says Moore is still choosing questions in consultation with local party members, but topics will likely include “policy and vision...through the lens of Atlantic Canada and through the lens of Nova Scotia.”

Federally-organized debates that have taken place so far have focused around Canada’s economic policies, immigration and national security issues.

A new leader will be chosen by Conservative party members on May 27, who will take over from interim leader Rona Ambrose.

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Friday, November 18, 2016

We need to win back America’s trust, says Canadian ambassador

David MacNaughton believes failure is not an option in dealing with Donald Trump’s “anti-trade rhetoric.”

Posted By on Fri, Nov 18, 2016 at 4:43 PM

David MacNaughton is Canada's ambassador to the United States of America. Good luck to him on that. - THE COAST
  • David MacNaughton is Canada's ambassador to the United States of America. Good luck to him on that.

Canada’s top priority in Washington is selling itself as a trusted partner to Donald Trump.

That was the message given by Canadian ambassador David MacNaughton during a Halifax Chamber of Commerce luncheon held Friday afternoon.

“We need to convince them we’re a trusted partner,” said MacNaughton, adding that Canada has been taking its relationship with the United States for granted.

“I often say it’s like having a best friend or a marriage. If you take it for granted, it doesn’t last for long.”

Over 100 business leaders and government figures attended the luncheon, including officials from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, CN Rail, the Halifax International Airport Authority and Nova Scotia Business Inc.

Though he hasn’t met with Trump himself yet, MacNaughton told reporters he’s had “many discussions” with the president-elect’s people both before and after the election, and is hopeful the two countries will continue working closely together.

That’s despite Trump’s promises to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), back away from emission regulations and support military and economical policies that are largely at odds with the goals of prime minister Justin Trudeau’s government.

“It’s true that NAFTA was described in perhaps...less than flattering terms during the US election,” said MacNaughton, who nevertheless reiterated recent comments that Canada would be happy to open up and revise the trade agreement so long as it was in the interest of Canadians.

“Certainly, some of the anti-trade rhetoric in the election is going to mean we have to do a better job educating Americans about how important trade is with Canada,” said the ambassador.

Failure on that front is “not an option,” according to MacNaughton, who has already warned Trudeau that the status quo between Canada and America is going to dramatically change.

“We [are] either going to have to move ahead, in a very dynamic fashion…or we [are] going to slip behind. Frankly, I don’t want to slip behind.”

MacNaughton’s speech continues the Trudeau government's attempts to build new relationships with a drastically different president than Barack Obama. After Trump’s win, Trudeau chose friendship over tenacity by issuing a statement congratulating the president-elect and praising the two countries’ “shared values, deep cultural ties and strong integrated economies.”

The statement, and MacNaughton’s comments about opening up NAFTA, have provoked criticisms from both political rivals and opinion columnists—particularly regarding the sexist remarks and racist fears that Trump stoked during his election campaign. 

MacNaughton had less to say on that subject during Friday’s speech. He did tell the crowd that one of his daughters, a teacher, had been hearing racist remarks from some of her students since the election. The ambassador also stressed that it’s never been more important for Canada to “reinforce the values that we share as Canadians, and that is inclusiveness, generosity, tolerance.”

Trudeau appointed MacNaughton to represent Canada in Washington this past spring. He previously served as president of Public Affairs International, and was the Ontario co-chair of the Liberal’s election campaign. MacNaughton also served in Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario government with Trudeau’s principal secretary Gerald Butts.

“Every day we’d get briefings and it would be one problem after another,” MacNaughton told the Halifax crowd about his time in provincial politics.

Those constant briefings could get quite depressing, the ambassador said, but he recalled telling Butts that they could either look at them as problems or opportunities. It’s a mindset he maintains in Washington.

“I can tell you, we’ve got lots of opportunities now.”

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