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This is a moderated panel. John Ibbitson acts as moderator. The address is a series of questions and answers, an exchange of views. Questions from the audience were also addressed.
First question to Paul Cellucci regarding John McCain and the Republican race.
Ibbitson: "... what kind of a hill does John McCain have to climb and how do you see him climbing it?"
Cellucci: Start with the premise that this race should be won by the Democrats and why that is so. The Republican views about Obama and Clinton. The Democrats' views of McCain. McCain will be competitive. A close election.
Ibbitson: Question to Mr. Blanchard: "Do you think John McCain is the one person who could defeat either Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton?
Blanchard: Yes, a close election and why that will be so. Remarks about John McCain and his strengths. The Democratic response to McCain. The speaker's declaration as co-chair of the Hilary Clinton campaign in Michigan. Youth voting in this and future elections.
Ibbitson: The Democratic race. Remarks about Clinton vs. Barack. A corrosive campaign in the Democratic camp. "Does this get resolved after June 3rd and the party comes together .... or what are the dangers that this goes all the way to the convention and splits the party?"
Blanchard: Waiting until late August to patch up the party too late. Knowing the nominee by the middle or end of June. Details of the status of the current campaign.
Cellucci: Recalling the 2004 election and John Kerry. The great challenge for the Democrats. The perfect solution.
Blanchard: Working to get them on the ticket together.
Ibbitson: One of the greatest questions that Canadians have on their minds. Promises about NAFTA. How concerned should Canadians be?
Blanchard: First, a disclaimer about who the speaker speaks for, and who he doesn't. Understanding the concern, but not seeing anything that is hostile to Canadians in terms of trade agreements. Where hostility has been shown.
Cellucci: Response to Mr. Blanchard's remarks about the thickening of the border. John McCain as a free trader. The valid concerns in Canada.
Blanchard: George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and trade restrictions against Canada.
Cellucci: Follow-up. Republicans with committed determined free traders.
Blanchard: A difference between the two parties with regard to effects of the loss of manufacturing.
Ibbitson: Remarks about the U.S. Congress and lobby groups. "What can any president do to get the government working?"
Cellucci: No doubt about needing help from Congress. Candidates who run on an anti-immigration platform.
Ibbitson: "Is it true Mr. Blanchard that the lobbying firms in Washington have become so powerful now that it is impossible for any president or even any Congress to assert its will?"
Blanchard: Why that is a myth, with example and explication. Tax cuts. The value of the American dollar.
Ibbitson: [States that Cellucci would agree with Blanchard's assessment.]
Cellucci: Why the Republicans are winning. Comments about Americans and tax cuts.
Blanchard: Why the people supported Governor Cellucci's tax cut.
Cellucci: "Thank you."
Blanchard: The Clinton era. The speaker's attitude towards tax cuts and borrowing from the future.
Cellucci: Borrowing in time of war. Americans today. History as the judge of George W. Bush.
Ibbitson: The role of God in politics. Suggestion that this campaign different and how that is so. "... what role do you see religion as a political force continuing to play in American life and how will it shape politics?"
Blanchard: Agreement with regard to a resurgence of religion in the United States. Differences in Canada and the U.S. Comments on Democrats and Republicans and the role of religion.
Some back-and-forth on a specific issue about Iowa and New Hampshire.
Ibbitson: "... are you concerned about the power of the religious right within the Republican Party? Or do you welcome it?"
Cellucci: Some facts. The freedom in both countries to make religion an important part of your life or not. An historical perspective for Canada.
Blanchard: Remarks about McCain and Jerry Falwell.
Cellucci: Counterpoint and some back-and-forth on this issue.
Ibbitson: Questions from the floor - two put together into one: regarding Mr. McCain's age and who might be the best vice-president for him.
Cellucci: No concern about age and why. The speaker's list of favourites for vice-president.
Ibbitson: "Do you think the Democrats will play up the issue of Senator McCain's age in the campaign?"
Blanchard: No, with explication. Comments about a possible running mate for McCain.
Cellucci: An advantage that McCain goes last.
Ibbitson: Concerns of the audience - circling back to the question of trade. Recommendations to the next president with regard to two or three initiatives that Canada could take to get the dialogue going again about improving trade across the border.
Cellucci: Remarks about the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). Some specifics re NAFTA. The continued economic integration of the North American economy.
Ibbitson to Blanchard: "What is your take on the health of the SPP?"
Blanchard: Agreement with Cellucci that it is not dead. What went wrong. All three candidates good for Canada. The Clintons both friends to Canada. The need for a harmonized comprehensive agreement on energy and the environment. True also for immigration and manufacturing regulations.
Ibbitson: Back to the horse race. The solution to the Michigan and Florida problem regarding the seating of their delegates?
Blanchard: The first class mess that this is. Details of this issue and what the speaker thinks will happen. Also what should happen to resolve it.
Ibbitson to Cellucci: "And you're just laughing at this aren't you?"
Cellucci: Another danger for the Democrats and how that is so.
Ibbitson: Thanks and closing remarks.