Transcript: Canadian Politics in the Time of COVID-19 | Sep 08, 2020

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and gray plaid tie.

A caption on screen reads "Canadian politics in the time of COVID-19. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says IT'S BEEN SIX MONTHS SINCE THIS PANDEMIC THREW EVERYTHING UP INTO THE AIR AND IF POLITICS SLID INTO THE BACKGROUND IN THE EARLY DAYS THEY CAME ROARING BACK THIS SUMMER. THE WE SCANDAL FOR THE LIBERALS. A NEW LEADER FOR THE CONSERVATIVES. AND ELECTION TALK BUBBLING UP AS THE FALL SESSION APPROACHES OF THE LET'S GET CAUGHT UP AND LOOK AHEAD AND AS IS OUR CUSTOM HERE ON "THE AGENDA," WE INTRODUCE OUR GUESTS FROM FARTHEST AWAY TO CLOSEST TO OUR STUDIO. WITH THAT WE WELCOME IN VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, SHACHI KURL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE NONPARTISAN PUBLIC OPINION RESEARCH ORGANIZATION, THE ANGUS REID INSTITUTE...

Shachi is in her early forties, with shoulder-length wavy black hair. She's wearing a printed blouse.

Steve continues IN BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, SEAN SPEER, PROFESSOR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO'S MUNK SCHOOL OF GLOBAL AFFAIRS AND PUBLIC POLICY AND A SENIOR FELLOW FOR FISCAL POLICY AT THE MACDONALD-LAURIER INSTITUTE...

Sean is in his late thirties, clean-shaven, with short brown hair gelled back. He's wearing a dark blue jacket and a blue shirt.

Steve continues IN POINT COMFORT, QUEBEC... POINT COMFORT AS WE MIGHT SAY IN ENGLISH... JEFFREY SIMPSON, FORMER NATIONAL AFFAIRS COLUMNIST WITH THE "GLOBE and MAIL" AND NOW A FELLOW AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA...

Jeffrey is in his sixties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He's wearing glasses, a blue jacket and a blue shirt.

Steve continues AND HERE IN THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL, JOURNALIST VICKY MOCHAMA, WHOSE WORK HAS APPEARED IN THE WALRUS, WASHINGTON POST AND "TORONTO STAR" AMONG MANY OTHERS...

Vicky is in her thirties, with short curly brown hair. She's wearing a black sweater and pendant earrings.

Steve continues IT'S GOOD TO SEE YOU FOUR BACK FOR OUR FIRST PROGRAM OF THIS, OUR 15th SEASON. AND LET'S START BY JUST PUTTING SOME STATS ON THE RECORD HERE. AS OF LABOUR DAY WEEKEND, CANADA HAS RECORDED, SINCE MARCH, MORE THAN 9,000 FATALITIES DUE TO COVID-19. BUT LET'S BREAK THAT DOWN SO WE CAN COMPARE OURSELVES WITH OTHER COUNTRIES.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "COVID-19 deaths per million."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
ON A PER CAPITA BASIS, THAT'S ABOUT 248 FATALITIES PER MILLION POPULATION WHICH COMPARES US RATHER WELL WITH THE UNITED KINGDOM WHICH IS UP AROUND 624 DEATHS PER MILLION POPULATION. SWEDEN AT 572, THE UNITED STATES AT 566. HOWEVER, MANY COUNTRIES HAVE ALSO DONE BETTER THAN US. GERMANY HAS ONLY 112 FATALITIES PER MILLION POPULATION. FINLAND ONLY 61. AND SOUTH KOREA FEWER THAN SEVEN FATALITIES PER MILLION POPULATION. SO SHACHI, LET'S START WITH YOU. YOU OBVIOUSLY SURVEY THE CANADIAN POPULATION ON A FREQUENT BASIS AND I WOULD LIKE YOU TO GIVE US A SENSE OF HOW CANADIANS FEEL THEIR FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENTS HAVE DONE IN FIGHTING COVID-19.

The caption changes to "Shachi Kurl. Angus Reid Institute."
Then, it changes again to "Six months later."

Shachi says THROUGH GOOD TIMES AND BAD... AND LET'S FACE IT... THE NUMBERS LATELY HAVE BEEN GETTING WORSE, COAST TO COAST STARTING IN BRITISH COLUMBIA WHERE WE ARE STARTING TO SEE THE BEGINNINGS OF SOME ARE CALLING IT A SECOND WAVE, OTHERS ARE JUST REALLY A SLIDE BACK WITH CASES. WE ARE SEEING THAT IN ONTARIO AND QUEBEC AS WELL. DESPITE THIS, WHAT WE KNOW IS THAT THE PANDEMIC HAS REALLY BEEN SOMETHING THAT HAS HAD PEOPLE RALLYING AROUND THE POLITICIANS AND VICE VERSA. PEOPLE ARE GENERALLY... A POPULATION WHEN IT COMES TO JUDGING OUR POLITICIANS WE LOOK TO THEM WITH A CYNICAL OR JADED EYE. THE PANDEMIC HAS CHANGED THAT. WE'VE SEEP HIGH RATINGS FOR PROVINCIAL PREMIERS. ONE EXCEPTION IS ALBERTA. BUT OTHERWISE PREMIERS ARE DOING WELL. AND WITH THE EXCEPTION OF A SLIDE THAT IS DIRECTLY ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE WE SCANDAL, PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU HAS SEEN HIS NUMBERS REALLY DOING WELL OVER THE LAST YEAR. THE WE SCANDAL... HIS NUMBERS ARE ACTUALLY HIGHER NOW THAN THEY WERE IN TERMS OF APPROVAL THAN THEY WERE RIGHT AFTER LAST YEAR'S ELECTION. HE WON AN ELECTION. CANADIANS WERE STILL ANNOYED WITH HIM. THAT'S RESOLVED ITSELF TO AN EXTENT. WE'LL SEE HOW LONG THAT LASTS.

Steve says THANKS FOR THE NATIONAL OVERVIEW. JEFFREY, YOU ARE IN QUEBEC. LET'S START THERE. IF YOU LOOK AT THE NUMBERS OUT OF THE PROVINCE OF QUEBEC, THEY'VE HAD ROUGHLY TWICE AS MANY PEOPLE SUCCUMB TO COVID-19 AS THOSE OF US HERE IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO. AND YET, MANY MILLIONS FEWER POPULATION. I THINK THEY'VE GOT 9 MILLION COMPARED TO OUR 14.5. WHAT DOES THAT TELL YOU ABOUT HOW WELL OR NOT QUEBEC HAS MANAGED TO DEAL WITH THIS PANDEMIC?

The caption changes to "Jeffrey Simpson. University of Ottawa."

Jeffrey says IT'S A SLIGHT MYSTERY TO ME. YOU JUST PUT YOUR FIGURER ON IT IS THAT QUEBEC HAS SKEWED THE NATIONAL NUMBERS BECAUSE THEIR INFECTION RATE AND DEATH RATE IS MUCH HIGHER THAN ANYWHERE ELSE. IF YOU SUBTRACTED QUEBEC, I KNOW IF MY GRANDMOTHER HAD WHEELS SHE'D BE A BUS. BUT IF YOU SUBTRACTED QUEBEC FROM THE NATIONAL NUMBERS THAT HE HAD BE MUCH, MUCH LOWER. THE INTERESTING THING IS MONSIEUR LEGAULT DESPITE HIS PROVINCE HAVING HIGH NUMBERS THESE HAVE BEEN WIDELY REPORTED IN QUEBEC... NO SECRET HERE... HIS POPULARITY HAS COME DOWN BUT IT'S STILL VERY HIGH. AND YOU MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT AS QUEBECKERS SAY, HEY, HOW COME OUR NUMBERS ARE APPRECIABLY WORSE THAN ONTARIO LET ALONE THE REST OF THE COUNTRY HE WOULD SUFFER. BUT THAT'S ACTUALLY NOT WHAT'S HAPPENED. HE'S REMAINED QUITE POSITIVE. WHAT I LIKE MOST ABOUT WHAT'S GONE ON AT THE GOVERNMENTAL LEVEL, AS AN OLD VETERAN OF FEDERAL-PROVINCIAL AFFAIRS IS THAT THE TWO LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT HAVE BY AND LARGE GOTTEN ALONG EXCEPTIONALLY WELL AND THEY'VE GOTTEN ALONG INTERPROVINCIALLY, TOO. YOU MENTIONED ONTARIO AND QUEBEC. ONTARIO SENT EQUIPMENT TO QUEBEC WHEN QUEBEC NEEDED IT. THAT WAS A VERY FRATERNAL THING TO DO. WE IN OTTAWA DIDN'T MUCH LIKE IT WHEN QUEBEC CLOSED THE BRIDGES TO OTTAWA BUT THAT'S OVER NOW. INSTEAD OF THE USUAL BICKERING BETWEEN THE TWO LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT, I THINK CANADIANS BACK TO THE FIRST POINTS THAT WERE MADE ONE OF THE REASONS THEY'RE GIVING CREDIT TO THE GOVERNMENT IS THAT THEY WORK HARD TO GET ALONG. AS WE SEE SOUTH OF THE BORDER, THE TENSIONS BETWEEN WASHINGTON AND A NUMBER OF THE STATES HAVE BEEN ENDEMIC AND POLARIZING AND THAT HAS NOT HAPPENED HERE.

Steve says LET ME PUT THAT TO VICKY. THAT IS CERTAINLY ONE OF THE HUGEST DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN HOW OUR FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL VERSUS THE AMERICAN NATIONAL AND STATE GOVERNMENTS, THAT'S A HUGE DIFFERENCE THERE AND I WONDER, VICKY IF ONE OF THE REASONS WE ARE GIVING OUR POLITICIANS HIGH MARKS IS BECAUSE COMPARED TO DOWN SOUTH WE LOOK LIKE WE ARE DOING SO MUCH BETTER. DO YOU THINK THAT'S PART OF IT?

The caption changes to "Vicky Mochama. Journalist."

Vicky says YEAH, I THINK PEOPLE ARE WILLING TO CREDIT THE CANADIAN FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT FOR NOT NECESSARILY FALLING VICTIM TO SOME OF THE BICKERING AND BACK AND FORTH THAT YOU HAVE SEEN IN THE UNITED STATES. BUT THERE HAS BEEN A LITTLE BIT OF BICKERING AND BACK AND FORTH. I THINK WHAT REMAINS ARE STILL SOME OF THE GAP THAT IS THE FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENTS NEED TO LOOK AT AND UNDERSTAND. FOR EXAMPLE, THE CHALLENGE WITH MIGRANT WORKERS AND THE RATE OF INFECTION THERE. THE CHALLENGES IN CARE HOMES AND THE FAMILIES, CONCERNS THERE AND THEN THE AIRPORT I THINK REMAINS A CRITICAL ONE TO MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT THE FEDERAL, PROVINCIAL AND MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENTS ARE DEALING WITH THE INFLUX OF PEOPLE COMING IN OR RETURNING HOME.

Steve says SEAN, IT IS A BIT OF A CANADIAN VALUE TO THINK THAT AS LONG AS WE THINK WE ARE DOING BETTER THAN THE AMERICANS WE FEEL PRETTY GOOD ABOUT THE WORLD. DO YOU THINK THAT'S AT PLAY HERE?

The caption changes to "Sean Speer. University of Toronto."

Sean says I THINK IT DEFINITELY IS, STEVE. YOU KNOW AS WELL AS ANYONE THAT THE CANADIAN PUBLIC IS INUNDATED WITH NEWS AND REPORTING FROM THE UNITED STATES AND SO IT'S JUST NATURAL FOR CANADIANS TO EVALUATE THE CANADIAN EXPERIENCE RELATIVE TO THE ACRIMONY AND TUMULTUOUSNESS OF THE AMERICAN RESPONSE. I ALSO THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE THAT IDEOLOGY GOES OUT THE WINDOW IN THE CONTEXT OF AN EMERGENCY. OUR POLITICIANS HAVE BEEN RESPONDING TO TWIN CRISES OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND AN ECONOMIC CRISES FOR WHICH THERE IS REALLY NO PLAY BOOK. SO I THINK IT'S LOGICAL THAT IDEOLOGICAL AND PARTISAN DIFFERENCE HAVE BEEN MINIMIZED AS OUR POLITICAL CLASS HAS SOUGHT TO RESPOND TO THIS EXTRAORDINARY CRISIS. BUT AS YOU SAID IN YOUR INTRODUCTION, STEVE, POLITICS IS STARTING TO REEMERGE. AND SIMILARLY, I THINK THAT'S LOGICAL. WE ARE BEGINNING TO SEE A NASCENT DEBATE ABOUT WHAT THE CONTOURS OF A RECOVERY PLAN OUGHT TO LOOK LIKE AND THAT IS GOING TO REFLECT IDEOLOGICAL DIFFERENCE B.C. THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT, ABOUT THE LIMITS OF GOVERNMENT ACTION AND I ACTUALLY THINK WE ARE ON THE CUSP OF WHAT WILL NO DOUBT BE A TUMULTUOUS BUT I THINK AN EXCITING AND DYNAMIC DEBATE ABOUT THE FUTURE ORIENTATION OF CANADIAN POLICY MAKING AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL BUT ALSO AT THE SUBNATIONAL LEVEL.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says WE WILL GET TO THAT LATER IN OUR CONVERSATION. BUT I ACTUALLY WOULD LIKE TO PUT A THIRD LEG ON THAT STOOL IF YOU LIKE AND VICKY MAYBE I WILL IS THAT RIGHT WITH YOU ON THIS. IT'S NOT JUST A HEALTH CRISIS AND AN ECONOMIC CRISIS. THERE'S BEEN A RACIAL RECKONING ACROSS NORTH AMERICA RIGHT NOW THE LIKES OF WHICH WE HAVEN'T SEEN IN 50 YEARS AND, YOU KNOW, OBVIOUSLY STARTING WITH GEORGE FLOYD BEING CAUGHT MURDERED ON VIDEO IN MINNEAPOLIS, VICKY, HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK OUR SUBSEQUENT POLITICS AND DEVELOPMENTS HAVE BEEN INFLUENCED BY THAT THIRD CRISIS THAT WE ARE UNDERGOING RIGHT NOW AS WELL?

The caption changes to "Vicky Mochama, @vmochama."

Vicky says I THINK ON THAT FRONT, THE QUESTIONS RAISED BY THE PROTESTERS AROUND POLICE OVERSIGHT, POLICE REFORM AND THE ABOLITION OF THE STATE HAVEN'T NECESSARILY BEEN MET BY POLITICIANS. BUT I THINK THERE HAS BEEN AN UNDERSTANDING FROM THE PUBLIC THAT THIS MOMENT AND THIS CRISIS IS BEING EXPERIENCED DIFFERENTLY BY DIFFERENT RACES BY DIFFERENT ETHNIC GROUPS AND BY INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND THEIR NATION. SO I THINK THAT AWARENESS IS MUCH MORE BROAD THAN IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN BEFORE. AND SO THE MOMENT OF RACIAL RECKONING IS HAPPENING AT A MORE INTERPERSONAL LEVEL THAN YOU... THAN NECESSARILY AT A POLITICAL LEVEL. I DON'T SEE POLITICIANS ANSWERING THESE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FUNDING OR DEFUNDING OF POLICE. YOU DON'T NECESSARILY SEE FEDERAL ANSWERS ABOUT SYSTEMIC RACISM WITHIN THE RCMP BUT YOU DO HEAR MORE QUESTIONS, MORE CONCERNS AND MUCH MORE UNDERSTANDING FROM INDIVIDUAL CANADIANS ABOUT HOW RACE IMPACTS OUR POLITICS.

Steve says I GUESS I SHOULD BE CAREFUL WITH MY LANGUAGE HERE SHACHI BEFORE I GET YOU TO COMMENT. THE POLICE OFFICER IN MINNEAPOLIS HASN'T BEEN FOUND GUILTY OF MURDER YET. LET'S JUST SAY THE KILLING OF GEORGE FLOYD. WHAT MANY PEOPLE MANY PEOPLE THOUGHT WAS A MURDER. SHACHI DO YOU WANT TO WEIGH IN ON HOW THE RACIAL RECKONING SOUTH OF THE BORDER HAS AFFECTED OUR POLITICS AND OUR SOCIETY HERE?

The caption changes to "Shachi Kurl, @shachikurl."

Shachi says I CAN'T SAY AS YET BASED ON THE DATA THAT WE ARE SEEING THAT IT IS NECESSARILY AFFECTING OUR POLITICS. I DON'T THINK WE ARE THERE YET. BUT CANADIANS ARE ENGAGED ON THIS ISSUE THEY'RE PAYING ATTENTION. THEY'RE CONNECTING THE DOTS. AND WHAT'S REALLY INTERESTING IS EVEN THOUGH THEY THEMSELVES MAY BE REPORTING THAT THEIR OWN INTERACTIONS WITH POLICE FOR THE LARGE PART, AGAIN, THIS IS SO MUCH DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU LIVE. AND WHICH LEVEL OF POLICE YOU'RE DEALING WITH... IS IT YOUR LOCAL POLICE, IS IT CITY POLICE, IS IT THE RCMP? REGARDLESS, WHEN WE TALK TO CANADIANS ABOUT THIS ISSUE, ACROSS BOARD THEY WILL GENERALLY SAY LOOK, MY INTERACTIONS HAVE BEEN OKAY. BUT I PERCEIVE A MAJOR PROBLEM IN THE WAY POLICE ARE DEALING WITH PEOPLE OF COLOUR, WITH BLACK PEOPLE, WITH INDIGENOUS PEOPLE. SO THERE IS AN ENGAGEMENT. THERE IS AN AWARENESS AND THERE IS A NAMING OF THE PROBLEM AND AN IDENTIFICATION OF THE PROBLEM WHERE CANADIANS ARE IN TERMS OF WHAT DO WE DO NEXT? WHO'S ACCOUNTABLE? WHO SHOULD BE ACCOUNTABLE? SHOULD THERE BE DEFUNDING? WHAT SHOULD THE FUTURE OF POLICING AND PUBLIC INTERACTION LOOK LIKE? I THINK THOSE ARE THINGS THAT EVERYONE IS STILL WORKING THROUGH AS THEY COME TO TERMS WITH WHAT'S BEEN HAPPENING. BOTH SOUTH OF THE BORDER BUT ALSO HERE IN CANADA. AND I WOULD JUST POINT OUT THIS DOESN'T START WITH GEORGE FLOYD, STEVE. THIS GOES BACK SO FAR. AND THERE ARE SO MANY EXAMPLES OF IT. OVER TIME, SO MANY CANADIAN INSTANCES CAUGHT ON CAMERA AS WELL PARTICULARLY IN RELATION TO OUR INDIGENOUS POPULATIONS. SO THIS IS SOMETHING THAT CANADIANS ARE STARTING TO COME TO TERMS WITH BUT THEY DON'T NECESSARILY HAVE CLEAR ANSWERS ON OR ARE INDICATING THAT THEY IS WHERE THEY WANT THEIR POLICY MAKERS TO GO.

Steve says JEFFREY SIMPSON, WHAT WOULD YOU ADD TO THAT?

Jeffrey says I WOULD ADD THAT I WOULD AGREE. WE HAVE NOT HAD AMONG OUR POLITICAL PARTIES NOR BETWEEN THE FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENTS POLARIZED ARGUMENTS ABOUT THIS. I'M NOT AWARE OF ANY POLITICAL PEOPLE HERE. I STAND TO BE CORRECTED WHO TRY TO MAKE HAY OUT OF THE TWO SIDES OF THE ARGUMENT THAT WE SEE IN THE UNITED STATES. SO THAT WE HAVEN'T HAD POLARIZATION ON THE ISSUE. IS THERE MORE AWARENESS? YES. DEFUNDING OF THE POLICE IS OVERWHELMINGLY REJECTED IN THE UNITED STATES AND IF IT WAS EVER PUT IN CANADA IT WOULD BE OVERWHELMING REJECTED HERE. THE FORM OF THE POLICE, YES, DEFUNDING MAKES ALMOST NO SENSE. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE IN TERMS OF SHEER NUMBERS BECAUSE THE SHARE OF THE CANADIAN POPULATION THAT IS BLACK ACCORDING TO STATISTICS CANADA IN 2016 WAS 3.6 percent WHERE IT'S ABOUT 10 percent IN THE UNITED STATES. THE INDIGENOUS ISSUE HERE HAS A SALIENCE THAT IT DOES NOT HAVE THE UNITED STATES. IN THE UNITED STATES PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT BLACK OR MINORITY GROUPS AND NATIVE PEOPLE AS THEY CALL THEM THERE. BUT HERE THE INDIGENOUS ELEMENT WHICH HAS A WHOLE DIMENSION TO IT THAT DOESN'T AFFECT THE BLACKS IN CANADA IS MUCH, MUCH MORE SALIENT AND HAS LED TO THINGS LIKE THE TAKING AWARE OF THE NAMES OR THE RENAMES OF INSTITUTIONS AND STRUCTURES IN CANADA WHICH TEN YEARS AGO WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN PART OF OUR DISCOURSE.

Steve says SEAN, JUST BEFORE I GET YOU TO WEIGH IN ON THIS I SHOULD PREFACE IT BY SAY THAT GO JEFFREY IS QUITE RIGHT THAT WE HAVEN'T HAD THE POLARIZATION IN OUR POLITICAL CLASSES HERE AS THEY HAVE IN THE UNITED STATES. BUT THERE WAS A DAY THE OTHER DAY ON TWITTER WHEN THE LEADER OF THE NEW DEMOCRATS TWEETED THAT THE POOR WOMAN WHO WAS SUFFERING FROM MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES IN TORONTO AND WHO BARRICADED HERSELF ON A BALCONY AND THEN TRIED TO LEAP TO ANOTHER BALCONY MISSED AND LEAPT TO HER DEATH, JAGMEET SINGH OR SOMEONE ON HIS BEHALF SAID THAT WOMAN WOULD STILL BE ALIVE IF NOT FOR THE INTERSECTION OF THE TORONTO POLICE WHICH IMMEDIATELY LAUNCHED A TWITTER EXPLOSION SAYING THAT HE HAD OVERREACHED AND WAS PLAYING POLITICS WITH ALL OF THIS. THERE IS A LOT TO MAKE SENSE OF THERE. BUT PERHAPS YOU COULD WEIGH IN ON ALL OF THAT.

Sean says WELL, I THINK IT'S A GOOD EXAMPLE, STEVE, OF OUR POLITICAL CLASS STRUGGLING TO BRING EXPRESSION TO THIS SET OF ISSUES IN THE REALM OF POLITICS. WE'VE SEEN GROWING CASES OF PROTESTERS TARGETING STATUES AND OTHER MANIFESTATIONS OF CANADIAN HISTORY. I THINK WE ARE INCREASING I WILL SEEING PUSH BACK AGAINST THOSE DEVELOPMENTS ON THE POLITICAL RIGHT. IT'S AN ISSUE, FOR INSTANCE, THAT ERIN O'TOOLE SEEMS KEEN TO CHAMPION IN HIS NEW ROLE AS LEADER OF THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY. OBVIOUSLY THESE ARE COMPLEX AND MULTIFACETED ISSUES FOR WHICH THERE ARE NO SIMPLE ANSWERS. BUT I WOULD EMPHASIZE THAT THIS SOCIAL ANGST IS OCCURRING AGAINST A BACKDROP OF PRECIPITOUS ECONOMIC CONTRACTION AND RECORD JOBLESSNESS . AND IT SEEMS TO ME WHILE THESE PROBLEMS WILL HARDLY BE SOLVED BY MORE ECONOMIC GROWTH, I THINK A RETURN... THE RESTORATION OF ECONOMIC GROWTH AND ECONOMIC ACTIVITY IS A CRITICAL INGREDIENT TO LOWERING THE TEMPERATURES IN OUR COUNTRIES. YOU KNOW, GEORGE WILL LIKES TO SAY, STEVE THAT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 2 percent GROWTH AND 3 percent GROWTH ISN'T 1 percent, IT'S 50 percent. AND I THINK THIS IS ONLY ONE OF THE REASONS WHY WE ARE SEEING OUR POLICY MAKERS AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL AND THE SUBNATIONAL LEVEL STARTED TO SHIFT THEIR THINKING FROM STABILIZING THE ECONOMY AND ADDRESSING THE IMMEDIATE PUBLIC HEALTH DIMENSIONS OF THE CORONAVIRUS AND FOCUSING MORE ON RESTORING ECONOMIC ACTIVITY AND GETTING PEOPLE BACK TO WORK.

Steve says GEORGE WILL IS A SMART GUY WHO COULD ALWAYS DO MATH. THERE'S NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT. WELL, SPEAKING OF MATH LET'S BRING SOME POLLING UP HERE AND I WILL GET YOU FOLKS TO COMMENT ON THIS. THESE HAVE BEEN ASTONISHINGLY CATACLYSMIC TIMES FOR OUR WORLD AND OUR COUNTRY AND YET LOOK AT THE PUBLIC OPINION POLLING WHEN YOU ASK PEOPLE WHAT THEY THINK OF THE FEDERAL PARTIES AS CURRENTLY CONSTITUTED IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS. SHACHI KURL THESE ARE YOUR NUMBERS AND LET'S GO THROUGH. HERE'S WHERE WE ARE RIGHT NOW.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Current party support."

Steve reads data from the slate and says LIBERALS 35 percent. CONSERVATIVES 35 percent. NDP AT 17. BLOC QUEBECOIS AT 7. AND THE GREENS AT 4. NOW, IF YOU COMPARE THOSE NUMBERS TODAY TO WHERE WE WERE ON ELECTION DAY, LAST OCTOBER, THE LIBERALS ARE LITERALLY UP LESS THAN 2 POINTS. THE CONSERVATIVES ARE LITERALLY UP ABOUT A POINT. THE NDP ARE DOWN ABOUT A POINT. THE BLOC ARE, YOU KNOW, DOWN ABOUT A HALF A POINT. AND THE GREENS ARE DOWN ABOUT 2.5 POINTS. AND SHACHI, I WANT TO KNOW, HOW IS IT POSSIBLE IN THESE REMARKABLY TUMULTUOUS TIMES THAT THERE'S SO LITTLE DINE MITCH IN THE POLITICAL POLLING THESE DAYS?

Shachi says SO DELICIOUS. WHERE DO YOU WANT ME TO START, STEVE.

Steve says AT THE BEGINNING.

The caption changes to "Is an election coming?"

Shachi says SO THAT IS A SURVEY THAT WE DID OF MORE THAN 5,000 CANADIANS INTERVIEWED SURVEYED IN THE LAST WEEK OF AUGUST. REALLY, IN THE DAYS RIGHT AFTER ARE O'TOOLE'S ASCENSION AS CONSERVATIVE PARTY LEADER. SO WHAT YOU'RE SEEING IS INTERESTING. YES, IN ESSENCE, IF YOU GO BACK 11 MONTHS, THE NUMBERS LOOK REMARKABLY CONSISTENT. BUT WHAT THIS REPRESENTS SINCE THE BEGINNING OF MAY IS ACTUALLY A SLIGHT DROP FOR THE LIBERALS. THEY'VE LARGELY STABILIZED NOW WITH PERHAPS A FEW FLESH WOUNDS BUT NOTHING FATAL COMING OUT OF THE WE SCANDAL. BUT ALSO A BUMP OF A HANDFUL OF POINTS FOR THE CONSERVATIVES WITH A NEW LEADER WHO IS NOW HAVING TO DO THE WORK OF ATTEMPTING TO RE-APPEAL TO VOTERS THAT HIS HEART HAS IN THE LAST TWO, THREE YEARS HAD VERY DIFFICULT TIMES GETTING TRACTION WITH. WHAT DO YOU HEAR ERIN O'TOOLE TALKING ABOUT IMMEDIATELY IN THE WEE HOURS RIGHT AFTER HIS WIN AS LEADER? HE SAYS: IF YOU LIVE IN A CITY THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY IS HERE FOR YOU. IF YOU ARE A WOMAN THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY IS HERE FOR YOU. IF YOU ARE A PERSON OF COLOUR OR AN IMMIGRANT YOU HAVE A HOME IN THE PARTY. THESE ARE MESSAGES THAT WE WOULD CALL CENTRIST OR SWING VOTERS HAVE NOT BEEN HEARING FROM CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP IN A WHILE. SO THAT'S BEEN PUT DOWN VERY FORCEFULLY BY ERIN O'TOOLE WHO HAS ALSO TRIED TO MOVE TO SQUELCH SOME OF THE ISSUES AROUND SOCIAL VALUES. HE IS SAYING LOOK I'M PRO CHOICE. I DON'T HAVE AN ISSUE WITH SAME-SEX MARRIAGE, I'D MARCH IN PRIDES, ET CETERA, ET CETERA. WHY IS HE DOING THOSE THINGS? BECAUSE THE PARTY IF IT WANTS TO WIN THE NEXT ELECTION NEEDS TO WIN IN ONTARIO WHERE IT'S CURRENTLY SITTING 7 POINTS BACK FROM THE LIBERALS. AND IT NEEDS TO WIN IN CITIES WHERE IT IS SIGNIFICANTLY TRAILING THE LIBERAL PARTY AND NEEDS TO WIN WITH WOMEN. RIGHT NOW THERE IS SOMETHING LIKE A 12-POINT GAP BETWEEN WOMEN VOTERS IN TERMS OF WHETHER THEY WOULD CHOOSE JUSTIN TRUDEAU OR ERIN O'TOOLE. AND ULTIMATELY WHAT WE NODE WITH ALL OF THIS IN THE MIX IS THAT LEFT OF CENTRAL VOTERS, IF THEY THINK THE CONSERVATIVES ARE WITHIN STRIKING DISTANCE OF FORMING GOVERNMENT WILL RICOH LESS UNDER THE LIBERALS AND BACK UNDER THE BIG RED TENT TO PREVENT THE CONSERVATIVES FROM WINNING. ERIN O'TOOLE NEEDS TO BE ABLE TO SAY WE'VE GOT A BIG TENT, TOO. WHERE EVERYONE IS WELCOME AND HE NEEDS TO CONVINCE PEOPLE OF THAT. HE IS SAYING IT. WE NEED TO SEE IF HE HAS THE ROOM TO GROW AND MAKES THE CASE.

Steve says HE PUT A SOCIAL MEDIA VIDEO UP YESTERDAY WHICH WAS PROBABLY THE MOST PRO-LABOUR, PRO-UNION STATEMENT THAT I HAVE EVER SEEN ANY CONSERVATIVE LEADER AT ANY LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT TO GIVE IN DECADES FOR SURE. IT WAS REALLY QUITE SOMETHING. JEFFREY, IF YOU ARE THE PRIME MINISTER RIGHT NOW. THEY'VE GOT A THRONE SPEECH IN THE FALL, DO YOU SECRETLY OR MAYBE NOT SO SECRETLY WANT TO LOSE THIS THRONE SPEECH GIVEN THE COMPETITIVE NATURE YOU FIND YOURSELF IN IN THE POLLING TODAY?

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Jeffrey says I DON'T THINK YOU WANTED TO LOSE IT ON THE THRONE SPEECH. THRONE SPEECHES ARE JUST DECLARATIONS OF INTENTIONS. I THINK THE BUDGET WILL BE FAR MORE CONSEQUENTIAL AND I DON'T KNOW WHEN THE BUDGET WILL BE. HAVE I A FAIRLY GOOD OF ITS GENERAL DIRECTION. NOT CLOSE TO THE GOVERNMENT ANY MORE BUT YOU CAN SEE THAT THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE A BUDGET THAT IS EXTREMELY EXPANSIONIST. THEY'RE GOING TO SPEND A LOT OF MONEY ON SOCIAL PROGRAMS WHETHER IT'S PHARMACIES, PHARMACARE, INCOME SUPPORT. THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE ALL KINDS OF GREEN SUBSIDIES. I THINK THE LIBERALS HAVE DECIDED THAT THE CONSERVATIVES HAVE 30 TO 35 percent OF THE ELECTORATE COME RAIN OR SHINE. YOU CAN HAVE A POOR LEADER LIKE THE PREVIOUS I COULDN'T KNOW ONE. YOU CAN HAVE A BETTER ONE THEY'LL HAVE A BASE OF 30, 35 percent. AND THEY CAN ONLY FORM A GOVERNMENT WITH A MAJORITY IF THEY BLEED FROM THE NDP, BLOC OR GREENS. THE SECOND POINT IS THAT WHEN Mr. MORNEAU WAS SHOWN THE DOOR E COULD SEE WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO HIM... HE HAD NO SUPPORT FROM THE CABINET... THE LIBERALS HAVE NO BUSINESS LIBERALS ANYMORE. THE LIBERALS GOING BACK TO PIERRE TRUDEAU AND JEAN CHRETIEN ALWAYS HAD BUSINESS LIBERALS. THEY'RE ALL SPENDING LIBERALS. EVERY ONE OF THEM INCLUDING THE PRIME MINISTER. SO THE NEXT BUDGET'S GOING TO BE EXTREMELY EXPANSIONIST. MONEY WILL BE SPENT LEFT, RIGHT AND CENTRE AND IT'S AT THAT POINT THAT THEY'LL USE THE SKILLS THAT WE'VE HEARD TODAY FROM OUR POLLING FRIENDS AS TO WHETHER THEY SHOULD GO FOR AN ELECTION OR NOT. THE LAST POINT I'M MADE IS ELECTIONS IS VERY UNPREDICTABLE Mr. TRUDEAU OUGHT TO KNOW THAT BECAUSE THE FIRST TIME HE WOULDN'T HE STARTED THE CAMPAIGN IN THIRD PLACE AND TOM MULCAIR WAS MEASURING THE DRAPES AT 24 SUSSEX DRIVE AND THE LIBERALS WON THE ELECTION. LAST TIME THEY SUCKED DURING THE CAMPAIGN. I THINK IT'S INTERESTING THAT THE LIBERALS SHOW THE LIBERALS AHEAD BY 12 POINTS BY WOMEN BUT IF THEY'RE EVEN OVERALL THEY HAVE TO BE 100 OR 12 POINTS BEHIND WITH MEN. THAT'S A PROBLEM FOR THE LIBERALS IT'S HARD TO FORM A MAJORITY WHEN YOU ARE 10 TO 12 POINTS BEHIND AMONG MEN.

Steve says SEAN I WOULD LIKE YOU TO WEIGH IN ON THE FUTURE FOR THE LIBERALS YOU HAVE THE WE SCANDAL THAT'S OUT OF THE HEADLINES RIGHT NOW BUT CERTAINLY HAS A PLACE IN THE PUBLIC CONSCIOUSNESS. HAVING SAID THAT ERIN O'TOOL BARELY HAS HIS FEET WET AS THE LEADER HOW CONCERNED WOULD YOU BE ABOUT PULLING DOWN THE GOVERNMENT'S THRONE SPEECH KNOWING THAT YOU HAVE A GUY WHO IS LITERALLY IN HIS FIRST MONTH AS LEADER AT THE HELM NOW.

Jeffrey says HE IS.

The caption changes to "Sean Speer, @Sean_Speer."

Sean says HE CERTAINLY HAS A LEARNING CURVE. TO YOUR QUESTION TO JEFFREY ABOUT WHETHER Mr. TRUDEAU AND HIS TEAM SECRETLY WOULD LIKE AN ELECTION, I THINK THE ANSWER IS YES. THE ONE ENTITY NOT ON SHACHI'S POLLING FIGURES IS DONALD TRUMP. WHO IS DEEPLY UNPOPULAR WITH THE CANADIAN PUBLIC. AND I THINK Mr. TRUDEAU'S TEAM WOULD LIKE THE OPPORTUNITY TO RUN A PARALLEL CAMPAIGN IN CANADA WHILE THE U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SLUMPS ON. Mr. TRUMP WILL BE COUNTED ON TO SAY OUTRAGEOUS THINGS AND Mr. O'TOOLE WOULD BE FORCED TO SPEND MOST OF THE CAMPAIGN RESPONDING TO QUESTIONS ABOUT Mr. TRUMP AND THE EXTENT TO WHICH HIS PARTY AND HIS VISION CONVERGES OR DIVERGES CAN THE POLARIZING PRESIDENT. THE OTHER REASON WHY I THINK THE LIBERALS WOULD LIKE A CAMPAIGN IS IF THEY'RE BROUGHT BACK WITH THE MAJORITY, THEY'LL BE ABLE TO PUT THE STICK IN THE SPOKES OF THE WE INVESTIGATION. THE ONLY REASON WE'VE GOT AS FAR AS WE HAVE, OF COURSE IS BECAUSE OPPOSITION MEMBERS PRESENTLY MAKE UP A MAJORITY OF THE MEMBERS ON THE COMMITTEES INVESTIGATING THE GRANT TO THE WE CHARITY. PROROGATION WAS A SHORT-TERM ATTEMPT TO SLOW THAT PROCESS DOWN. A MAJORITY... A NEW MAJORITY MANDATE WOULD BE WHAT THE LIBERALS NEED TO SHUT IT DOWN. AND SO I THINK ALL OPPOSITION LEADERS... INCLUDING Mr. O'TOOLE FACE A DIFFICULT QUESTION: HOW THEY ULTIMATELY VOTE ON THE SPEECH FROM THE THRONE AND PERHAPS A FEDERAL BUDGET. I THINK THERE WILL BE PLENTY THERE FOR THE CONSERVATIVES TO OPPOSE AND REJECT. MORE PRESSURE WILL BE ON Mr. SINGH AND WHETHER THE NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS PREPARED TO SUPPORT THE LIBERALS GIVEN THE LIKELIHOOD, AS JEFFREY SAYS, THAT THE SPEECH FROM THE THRONE AND THE BUDGET WILL ADVANCE SEVERAL PROGRESSIVE PRIORITIES. IS THAT ENOUGH TO SECURE NDP SUPPORT OR NOT I THINK WILL BE THE MAJOR QUESTION IN THE UPCOMING PARLIAMENTARY SESSION.

Steve says LET ME GET VICKY TO PICK UP THE STORY THERE ON THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PART OF THE POLITICAL LEDGER. AND TO THAT END, VICKY, MAYBE I CAN ASK YOU TO REACT TO IT IN THIS RESPECT. FOR THE LAST TWO DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION RACES A SELF-DECLARED, SEPTUAGENARIAN SOCIALIST HAS REALLY BEEN THERE ALMOST TO THE FINISH LINE RUNNING EXTREMELY COMPETITIVELY. SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS. IF YOU LOOK AT THE CURRENT DEMOCRATIC PARTY, I GUESS THEY CALL THEMSELVES THE SQUAD LEAD BY AOC, ALEXANDRA OCASIO-CORTEZ FROM NEW YORK, WHO IS A SELF-DECLARED SOCIALIST AND UNAPOLOGETICALLY RUNNING FOR GOVERNMENT. THEY'RE VERY POPULAR IN THE UNITED STATES RIGHT NOW IN A WAY THAT THE NDP JUST IS NOT IN CANADA. I GUESS THE QUESTION IS, HOW DOES THE NDP MAYBE TRY TO BENEFIT FROM SOME OF THAT RADICALISM HAPPENING IN THE UNITED STATES RIGHT NOW?

Vicky says WELL, I THINK THE QUESTION REALLY FOR JAGMEET SINGH IS HAS HE BEEN ABLE TO CARRY THE MOMENTUM OF HIS WIN INTO HIS ROLE AS LEADER OF THE PARTY. AND I DON'T THINK WE'VE NECESSARILY SEEN THAT FROM HIM. PART OF IT IS THE LACK OF CASH THAT THEY HAVE AS A PART. THE IDEA OF AN ELECTION FOR THEM IS NOT NECESSARILY ONE THEY WANT TO ANSWER AND THEY DON'T WANT TO HEAD INTO AN ELECTION. BUT IT'S ALSO THE FACT THAT THEY'RE UNWILLING TO BE UNABASHED SUPPORTERS OF LABOUR EFFORTS MUCH RIGHTS NOR WORKERS. MUCH SPEAKING IN THE LANGUAGE OF SOCIALISM. PART OF THE CHALLENGE IS THAT AMERICAN SOCIALISTS ARE ASKING FOR SOME OF THE THINGS CANADA ALREADY HAS. THEY'RE ASKING FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE. THEY'RE ASKING FOR EXPANDED SICK LEAVE. THEY'RE ASKING FOR THINGS THAT A LOT OF CANADIANS... DEPENDING WHERE YOU ARE IN THE COUNTRY... ALREADY HAVE. WHAT DOES THAT KIND OF SOCIALISM THAT IS POPULAR IN THE NDP AMONG YOUNG WOMEN WHO LARGELY SUPPORT THE NDP, WHERE IS THAT GOING TO COME FROM FOR JAGMEET SINGH. HOW IS HE GOING TO ARTICULATE THAT? I THINK THAT'S REALLY THE QUESTION FOR THE NDP, THE LIBERALS AND THE CONSERVATIVES IN THAT VIDEO MESSAGE FROM ERIN O'TOOLE ON LABOUR DAY HE WAS SPEAKING ABOUT CLASS. ALL THREE HAVE BACKED DOWN FROM THE QUESTIONS OF RACE BUT I THINK WILL SPEND THE NEXT FEW MONTHS ELECTION OR NO TALKING ABOUT THE CLASS IMPACT THAT THIS PANDEMIC HAS HAD. AND HOW IT HAS AFFECTED DIFFERENT PEOPLE DEPENDING WHERE YOU ARE. THEY'RE POSSIBLY GOING TO GO AFTER THE MIDDLE CLASS. BUT I THINK THE LIBERALS WITH THE PIECE THAT IS THEY'VE PUT OUT ABOUT THE BUDGET ARE MAYBE RETURNING TO JUSTIN TRUDEAU'S ATTEMPTS AT THAT FAIRNESS AGENDA, AT GOING AFTER THE WEALTHY, AT EXPANDING SOCIAL PROGRAMS AND ARE MAYBE GOING TO NOW LISTEN TO WHAT THE NDP HAVE TO SAY ABOUT QUESTIONS AROUND A UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME, EXPANDED TRANSIT SUPPORTS, GREEN TAX CREDITS, ALL OF THOSE THINGS. SO I THINK FOR JAGMEET SINGH, HE HAS ALWAYS PULLED BACK ON SOME OF THE NDP'S AGENDA BUT NOW HAS A WINDOW AND AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE A LITTLE MORE AGGRESSIVE AND VOCIFEROUS ABOUT THE SUPPORT THAT THE NDP HAS TO OFFER.

Steve says GOTCHA. LESS THAN FIVE MINUTES TO GO, FOLKS LET ME PUT ONE MORE THING ON THE TABLE SADLY, BRIEFLY BECAUSE WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME. SHELDON, PUT THESE STATS UP. WHAT DO CANADIANS CARE ABOUT.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "What do Canadians care about?"

Steve reads data from the slate and says
YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BE SHOCKED THAT 35 percent OF PEOPLE IDENTIFIED THE RESPONSE TO COVID-19. BUT IF YOU LOOK AT NUMBER 2 WHICH IS HEALTH CARE AT 32 percent, YOU PUT THEM TOGETHER, THAT'S BASICALLY TWO THIRDS OF CANADIANS WHO SAY COVID-19/HEALTH CARE IS TOP OF MIND RIGHT NOW. THREE IN TEN IDENTIFY CLIMATE CHANGE. ALMOST 3 IN 10 THE ECONOMY. GOVERNMENT SPENDING AND DEFICIT LESS THAN A QUARTER OF THE PEOPLE IDENTIFIED THAT ASS AN ISSUE. INCOME INEQUALITY IS DOWN TO JUST OVER 2 IN 10. CORRUPTION A LITTLE UNDER 2 IN 10. PUBLIC SAFETY 1 IN 10. SHACHI, I NEED A SMART POLLSTER HERE TO TELL ME WHAT THAT SUGGESTS ABOUT CANADIAN PRIORITIES AT THE MOMENT.

The caption changes to "Is the electorate ready?"

Shachi says AGAIN IT'S ALL DIGGING BENEATH THOSE TOP LINE NUMBERS, STEVE. IF ANYONE REALLY WANTS TO DIG IN THEY CAN ACTUALLY GO TO ANGUSREID.ORG AND READ ALL THE DATA AND I ENCOURAGE YOU TO DO THAT, SO WITH THE TIME WE HAVE I'LL SAY A COUPLE OF THINGS OF LOOK FOR THE TRUDEAU GOVERNMENT TO ALMOST GO BACK TO THE FUTURE ON THIS OR GO BACK TO THE PAST. THEY'RE GOING TO RUN THE PLAY BOOK FROM THE EARLY 80s. NOT ALL OF US WERE AROUND FOR IT. I THINK JEFFREY SIMPSON WAS. AND I SAY THAT WITH GREAT RESPECT BECAUSE HE IS A MAN OF EXPERIENCE. BUT REALLY WHERE THE THEN FORMER TRUDEAU LIBERALS PIERRE TRUDEAU LIBERALS WERE AT BRIDGING THE QUALITY AND INCOME GAP TRYING TO GET PEOPLE INTO AFFORDABLE AND ACCESSIBLE HOUSING LUCRATIVE TO TALK ABOUT A LOT OF THOSE THINGS BECAUSE THOSE ARE ISSUES AGAINST A BACKDROP OF A PANDEMIC THAT HAVE REALLY BEEN REVEALED, RIGHT? SO WE ARE LEARNING MORE ABOUT HOW PRECARIOUS WORK IS FOR PEOPLE. HOW HIGH THE ESKIMOS OF LIVE SOMETHING FOR PEOPLE DOING PRECARIOUS WORK. NOW, WHEN YOU LOOK AT WHO CARES ABOUT WHAT, IF ARE YOU A WOMAN IF YOU ARE LEFT OF CENTRE IN THIS COUNTRY, PANDEMIC RESPONSE, IF YOU ARE A MAN LIVING IN NORTHERN ALBERTA, SASKATCHEWAN, PARTS OF ONTARIO YOU ARE MUCH MORE OCCUPIED WITH THE DEFICIT ON SPENDING. BUT ONE MORE POINT ABOUT THE DEFICIT ON SPENDING, CANADIANS TODAY ARE LESS EXORCIZED ABOUT THIS THAN THEY WERE WHEN OUR DEFICIT WAS FAR, FAR SMALLER. SO WE ARE LOOKING AT A BUDGET DEFICIT OF 343 BILLION dollars. YOU GO BACK A YEAR AND A HALF WHEN THIS WAS AN ISSUE WE WERE TALKING ABOUT MORE AND THE BUDGET DEFICIT WAS SOMETHING LIKE 19 BILLION dollars. SO THIS IS ALL ABOUT HOW THESE ISSUES ARE INTRODUCED INTO THE PUBLIC DISCOURSE. WE HEARD ERIN O'TOOLE TRYING TO TALK ABOUT IT, TALKING ABOUT HIS TIME LINE TO PAY IT DOWN. AND REALLY THE ONLY CAVEAT IS THE FOCUS ON ISSUES OF DEFICIT WHEN THEY'RE EXORCISED AND CONCERNED ABOUT IT. RIGHT NOW, THEY'RE MORE EXORCISED AND CONCERNED PARTICULARLY IF THEY'RE TRANSITIONING OFF CERB OR LOOKING AT WHERE THE NEXT PAYCHEQUE IS COMING FROM, WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THEIR ELDERLY PARENT OR CHILD.

Steve says ABOUT 45 SECONDS FOR EACH OF YOU TO WEIGH IN ON. JEFFREY LET ME GO TO YOU FIRST. THE GUY WHO HAS THE JOB YOU USED TO HAVE... THE BEST REAL ESTATE IN THE "GLOBE and MAIL," ANDREW COYNE. HE SAYS THE GOVERNMENT IS CONVINCED THEY CAN GET SOMETHING FOR NOTHING BUT THAT THEY CAN GET EVERYTHING FOR NOTHING. DO YOU THINK HE'S ON TO SOMETHING HERE?

Jeffrey says I DON'T COMMENT ON WHAT OTHER JOURNALISTS SAY WHEN I WAS A JOURNALIST I WON'T NOW. I DON'T THINK ANYONE HAS EVER SEEN A DEFICIT LIKE THIS IN THEIR ENTIRE LIVES. 343 BILLION dollars. I THINK THE COVID SITUATION AND WE TALKED WHERE GOVERNMENTS HAVE GENERALLY DONE THIS BECAUSE THEY HAVEN'T HAD TO PAY THE BILLS. AT SOME POINT INTEREST RATES WILL RISE OR THE RATING AGENCIES WILL PUT CANADA ON NOTICE OR THE BANK OF CANADA WILL ENTER THE FRAY AND NOT BE ABLE TO PRINT THE KIND OF MONDAY AT THIS HAS AND AT THAT POINT PEOPLE WILL SAY THIS CAN'T GO ON. I THINK IT WILL BE A DECADE TO CLIMB OUT OF THIS DEFICIT SITUATION. I DON'T THINK IT WILL BE EASY AND THAT'S GOING TO BE A LONG, DIFFICULT SLOG.

Steve says VICKY, CAN YOU BE A CONSERVATIVE TODAY AND CAMPAIGN ON REDUCING DEBT AND DEFICIT?

Vicky says I'M SURE THERE ARE WAY IT IS COULD WORK BUT I WOULD LOVE TO SEE HOW IT LOOKS LIKE FOR GENERATIONS LIKE MINE, MILLENNIALS DEALING WITH THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS OR HEADING INTO YOUR ADULTHOOD WHERE JOBS ARE LESS OF A CERTAINTY, WHERE HOUSING INCREASES IN COST. FOR CONSERVATIVES TO ARGUE ON LESS SUPPORT FOR INDIVIDUALS THAT HE HAD HAVE TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO TOE THAT FINE LINE BETWEEN THE CHALLENGES PEOPLE HAVE HAD FOR THE LAST 15 TO 20 YEARS TRYING TO CREATE LIFESTYLES AND FAMILIES AS WELL AS WHAT THE GOVERNMENT CAN DO AND IS ABLE TO DO.

Steve says SEAN YOU GET THE LAST WORD, HOW DO CONSERVATIVES WHICH LIKE DEBT AND DEFICIT AS THEIR ISSUES HOW DO YOU CAMPAIGN ON THOSE TODAY?

Sean says I AGREE WITH VICKY IT'S A CHALLENGE. THAT'S FOR SURE. I WOULD SAY THE OPPOSITE IS TRUE AS WELL, STEVE. I WOULD THINK Mr. TRUDEAU, Ms. FREELAND, IF THEY'RE INTERPRETING WIDE INTERESTS ON THE PART OF THE CANADIAN PUBLIC FOR A RADICAL TRANSFORMATION TO GOVERNMENT I THINK THEY MAY BE WRONG. I THINK THE MESSAGE OF A RETURN TO NORMALCY MAY BE AS POTENT AS ONE FOR RECONCEPTUALIZING GOVERNMENT AND RECONCEPTUALIZING ITS ROLE IN THE ECONOMY. AND ULTIMATELY I THINK THAT THESE WILL BE THE COURSE OF A BIG, BIG IDEOLOGICAL CONFLICT WHENEVER THE NEXT ELECTION OCCURS.

The caption changes to "Producer: Wodek Szemberg, @wodekszemberg."

Steve says GOOD STUFF. THANKS, EVERYBODY. GREAT DISCUSSION. SHACHI KURL, JEFFREY SIMPSON, SEAN SPEER, VICKY MOCHAMA. IT'S REALLY GREAT OF ALL OF YOU TO JOIN US ON THIS FIRST PROGRAM OF OUR 15th SEASON HERE ON "THE AGENDA." ALL GOOD WISHES TO ALL OF YOU AND STAY SAFE, OKAY?

All the guests say THANK YOU, STEVE.

Watch: Canadian Politics in the Time of COVID-19