John Manley arrives to discuss the Manley Report on Afghanistan before the Commons foreign affairs committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, March 11, 2008. (Photo: Tom Hanson/CP)Manley and Charest both warned about the urgency of completing trade deals started by the Harper government, including the European free trade agreement. They also said Canada needs to develop a Plan B if the Trans-Pacfiic Partnership agreement is rejected by the U.S. Congress. At the same time, each of the former politicians talked in turn about the necessity of public policy consultation, but warned it shouldn't be open-ended, nor used as an excuse for doing nothing. The Trudeau government is in the extraordinary position of being more popular than when it was elected, and it should take advantage of that good will to make decisions that are difficult, said Rae and Manley.
"The government has thoroughly mastered 'yes.' They are really good at (saying) 'yes,' but governing is to choose and eventually you've got to say 'no' to somebody."
Former liberal leader Bob Rae speaks to the media about former Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chretien during his 80th birthday and marking 50 years in public service in Toronto on Tuesday, January 21, 2014. (Photo: Nathan Denette/CP)
'Our defence situation is pitiful': CharestThe debate over the adequate level of defence spending should be subordinate to explaining how they are going to spend the money and what effect they hope to achieve, the panellists said. "Our defence situation is pitiful, especially if we compare ourselves to the rest of the world," said Charest, who also warned that Canada could face increased pressure in the future because the shifting geo-political landscape. "I think it's inevitable we're going to have to spend more and Canadians are going to have to be persuaded by their leaders that that's a good thing to do," said Manley. The possible election of Donald Trump as U.S. president, with his remarks about freeloading allies and anti-free trade rhetoric, would send shockwaves through the Canada-U.S. relationship, Rae said. "I pray to God it doesn't happen," he said.
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