John McCallum to Salam Toronto on war with Iran: “I hope it doesn’t come to that”

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► John McCallum answering Salam Toronto’s question on the growing tension with Iran:  “I’m very much a supporter of Israel, so I can understand if Israel would feel compelled to take unilateral action against Iran.” - Photo by Salam Toronto  -  March 25th, 2012

► John McCallum answering Salam Toronto’s question on the growing tension with Iran: “I’m very much a supporter of Israel, so I can understand if Israel would feel compelled to take unilateral action against Iran.” - Photo by Salam Toronto - March 25th, 2012

On Sunday, March 25th, the Thornhill Federal Liberal Riding Association hosted a discussion with John McCallum, M.P. and Liberal critic for Public Works & Government Services, Treasury Board, House and Government Operations, on the present and future of the Canadian economy.

Although, Mr. McCallum’s main focus was on the economy, he also touched on a few other issues affecting Canadians at large, as well as answering Salam Toronto’s question on the growing Iranian crisis. The following are excerpts from his remarks on a few of the issues:

On Immigration:
“They want to make the immigration more responsive to employment needs and I have no problems with that. Because I think ……. we have too many PhDs driving taxies and we don’t seem to be able to get our hands around this credentials issue, especially at the federal level because it’s a provincial matter. So if we want to change the system to attract people whose skills are more needed, I’m fine with that. But you want to bring their families. We don’t want temporarily foreign labour that comes and then leaves.”  



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On Harper Government:
I think that this government is one of the most secretive and controlling governments that we have seen in our history. I think it’s hard to convince Canadians of this if you look at the last couple of elections.  But I think these Robocall scandals and other things of that nature might start to come through. From the Liberal Party view we don’t want it to resolve tomorrow, we would rather have it resolved in let’s say 2014. I think it might eventually catch up with them.

More on the Harper Government:
I think the stupidest thing this government has ever done was to get rid of the long form census. I mean it’s totally anti-science.  Statistics Canada had a reputation as one of the best statistics agencies in the world and the foundation of so much of what Statistics Canada is that long form census.  We used to get maybe about 95% compliance on that, now we get something about 60%.And you know the 60% who fill out this voluntary census is people like me, educated people, English and French first speakers. The people who won’t fill it are new immigrants who can’t speak English, aboriginal people living on reserves, low income Canadians. So we get a totally skewed picture of our country.

On War with Iran:
Salam Toronto: As an expert in economics and also as the former Minister of National Defence, what is your position on going to war with Iran and also the consequences it would have on the global economy and in particular Canada’s economy?
John McCallum: That’s a tough question. I prefer you had said Iraq, because I was the Minister of Defence at the time and I said no to that one. And that was an easy one. That was the right decision.

Ok, I hope it doesn’t come to that. I mean I’m very much a supporter of Israel, so I can understand if Israel would feel compelled to take unilateral action against Iran. I hope it doesn’t come to that. I think the outcome of that would be terrible in ways that we may not even be able to fully fal them today.  And it may not even have the desired effect of preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon some time down the road. In terms of the effect on Canada, anything that pushes the oil price through the roof is bad for the US but it’s mixed effects on Canada. So it would be bad for the Canadian manufacturing sector for reasons we just discussed. Because I think if we had a big spike in oil prices related to Iran or any other reason, the impact on the Canadian dollar would be positive. Because the Canadian dollar does move quite a bit with oil prices. So if you are going on a holiday in US or if you live in an oil patch in Calgary that’s great. But if you are in the manufacturing sector in Ontario, that’s not so great. So I think that’s one impact that it could happen. But it could have all sorts of effects in terms of war. You know people fighting people. It’s a tinderbox. The price of oil is the economic side of it but it’s certainly not the totality of what we are talking about that.

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