Canada's credibility on the world stage, health care, and climate change topped the list of most overlooked political stories of 2012, according to Canada's federal finance minister and opposition party leaders.
In separate interviews airing Saturday on CBC Radio's The House, host Evan Solomon asked Jim Flaherty, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae, and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May what they thought was the most underreported story of 2012.
Here are their answers (edited for length):
1. Jim Flaherty, federal finance minister
"Canadians should know that Canada does punch above its weight internationally, we really do.
And when we put pressure on Europe, as we've done to start to deal in a substantive way with their issues ... we have a lot of influence with them, we have a lot of credibility with them.
And the same thing with the United States, with both the Democrats and Republicans, which is a good thing. And they do look at Canada as a country that sort of got its act together on fiscal matters. This is not common in the world today.
So Canada's credibility is strong."
2. Tom Mulcair, leader of the Official Opposition
"Almost a year ago today, Mr. Flaherty was at a meeting with his provincial counterparts, all the provincial finance ministers.
Without discussion [and] without debate, Flaherty simply announced that the federal government was going to reduce by $36 billion the amount that had been planned, and budgeted, and forecast, for federal transfers for health care.
Fifty years ago, following the NDP's model, Canadians resolved that no Canadian family would ever have to choose between having a sick child seen by a doctor and being able to put food on the table. That's our model. That's the NDP model. But it's also the Canadian model that helps identify the best in us, it's us helping each other. It's great to have that system of free universal medical care.
That is in danger."
3. Bob Rae, interim Liberal leader
"Health care. I think health care is the number one issue for Canadians, apart from the economy...
Canadians don't believe that the federal government has no role in health care. But because the Prime Minister is absolutely firm on this — that the federal government has nothing useful to do and no real role to play — I think Parliament and I think frankly the media, and everyone else, has sort of said, well then there's nothing to talk about.
I think there’s a lot to talk about on health care: the future of drug policy, how we are going to deal with mental health going forward and how we are going to deal with an aging population, which is the underlying demographic trend of our time.
People are getting older and as they get older, they use health care more. And so, we can't just leave the provinces on their own to deal with health care, we've got to deal with it effectively as a country."
4. Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party
"The single, biggest threat to our kid’s future is the climate crisis and it didn't get any attention in the House of Commons.
The Bill C-38 and Bill C-45 changes to the Fisheries Act, to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Navigable Water Protections Act, and so on, are a piece of what I see as Stephen Harper's steady dismantling of the architecture and framework of environmental law and policy in Canada.
But in that context, to the extent that anyone talks about the climate crisis, it's to have this inane non-discussion in the House of Commons where the Conservatives falsely claim that the NDP want a carbon tax and the NDP attack the Conservatives and claim falsely that improvements in fuel economy constitute a car tax.
The fact that we're not focusing on that [climate change] or even talking about it is appalling."
To hear their full answers, please click here.
What did YOU think was the most overlooked political story of 2012? Write to us at email@example.com
Related on HuffPost:
You can blame billionaire owners or the millionaire players, but at the end of the day, Canada has now <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/12/04/nhl-lockout-talks-sidney-crosby_n_2238018.html">been without hockey for almost three months.</a> No Hockey Night In Canada, no office pools, no bonding with your friends over an overtime goal. <BR> What’s worse, the lockout came just months after an unlikely Stanley Cup win for the Los Angeles Kings, based in the second largest TV market in the U.S. Add the fact that the New York Rangers, in America’s largest market, also made a long playoff run and the NHL could’ve actually made inroads into the United States this season. Sigh. (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano)
If you lived in Canada’s two largest cities, Montreal and Toronto, what you learned in 2012 is that your mayors are not exactly shining beacons of civic leadership.<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/quebec-corruption"> In Quebec, a massive anti-corruption inquest </a>has brought down mayors in Montreal and Laval and paints a picture of provincial and municipal governments in bed with organized crime.<BR> Torontonians have had to deal with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/robford">Mayor Rob Ford</a> ditching important council votes for high school football practices, incidents involving reporters and more than one court case. Then again, it’s not all bad. Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi remains beloved in Calgary and Vancouver’s Gregor Robertson hasn’t had a bad year. Montrealers and Torontonians can only sit back in envy. (AP Photo/ THE CANADIAN PRESS, Nathan Denette)
Could a movement of angry young Canadians get the government to reverse its stance on tuition hikes? Absolutely. Could that same movement paralyze a whole province and mortally wound a government at the ballot box. Definitely. <BR> Quebec’s student movement was, arguably, one of the most influential mass movements in recent years. Thousands of students took to the streets of Montreal not just once but repeatedly over a period of weeks and months. More surprisingly, it was led by young Canadians, a group that many thought were apathetic and politically disengaged. The Quebec movement proved them wrong. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)
Mark Carney is something of a walking paradox: He’s a superstar central banker. And he attained this status by being the man in charge of Canada’s fiscal policy when the financial crisis hit. As U.S. banks neared collapse and needed hundreds of billions of dollars in bailouts, Canada’s banks hummed along relatively well, requiring only a smaller bailout package that — unlike in the U.S. — didn’t require taxpayers’ money.<BR> Canada’s stability during the crisis didn’t go unnoticed around the world, and soon the buzz around Carney began to build, until it reached its apex this fall when U.K. chancellor George Osborne <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/11/26/mark-carney-appointed-bank-of-england_n_2191908.html">tapped him to be the Bank of England’s governor</a> — the first time a foreigner was ever given that position. Some observers question whether Carney really deserves the accolades he’s received; after all, the banking policies that kept Canada’s financial institutions above water during the crisis were in place for years and decades when Carney took the reins at the Bank of Canada in 2007. As Carney takes up the BoE job next year, all eyes will be on the former Goldman Sachs banker to see if he can repeat his success on the other side of the pond. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Fred Chartrand)
Fall Of The Premiers
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/jean-charest">Jean Charest</a> is the Canadian political equivalent of the Road Runner. He dodged political scandals and attacks like the speedy cartoon character avoided anvils and crafty traps. But in the end, a combination of Quebec's corruption inquiry, a massive student uprising and general voter fatigue brought down Charest.<BR> In Ontario, it was a similar story. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/dalton-mcguinty">Dalton McGuinty</a>'s Liberals fought off a resurgent Progressive Conservative party to take a minority government at Queen's Park. Who knew that in a few short months scandal would bring down the premier of Canada's largest province? (Jacques Boissinot/CP)
Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” was about as ubiquitous this summer as patio beers and sunscreen. The 27-year-old Vancouverite’s poppy anthem to unrequited love got a huge boost when Justin Bieber talked up the song earlier this year. For this, we’ve got to thank young Mr. Bieber. <BR> We’re a pretty, jaded and crotchety bunch here at HuffPost Canada but we’ll bop along to “Call Me, Maybe.” And judging from the literally <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/06/14/corgi-rae-jepsen-call-me-maybe-video_n_1598074.html">hundreds of mash-ups and versions of the song</a>, it looks like the whole world did too. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)
The Robocalls Scandal
In February, Postmedia reporters Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher broke what was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/robocalls-scandal">arguably the biggest political story of 2012</a>. It appeared that voters in a hotly-contested riding in Guelph, Ontario received phone calls that misinformed them about their polling locations. <BR> Their story would result in serious questions about whether the Tories or staff for Conservative campaigns engaged in electoral fraud. The revelations haven’t brought down the government or any senior leaders but it has hung around like a cloud over the entire year in politics.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/kevin-page">Kevin Page</a> is a civil servant, watchdog, persistent thorn in the side of the governing Tories, and perhaps the best opposition member never elected to Parliament. <BR> In 2012, the parliamentary budget officer challenged the government on its cost estimates regarding everything from F-35 fighter jets to Old Age Security and launched a legal battle with the Tories’ over their unwillingness to reveal details about cuts being made to the public service. The Conservatives, who appointed Page in the first place as part of their landmark accountability legislation in 2006, have maintained Page is operating outside his mandate. That question remains before the courts, but one thing is certain: Page has made an indelible mark on the Canadian political landscape.