It's Political with Althia Raj
About It's Political with Althia Raj
Probing and insightful conversations with Canada's top political insiders, hosted by Althia Raj. A bi-monthly political podcast from the Toronto Star.
Last week, Volkswagen announced it will build its first overseas electric vehicle battery gigafactory in St. Thomas, Ontario. The federal and provincial governments declined to say what they’d paid to lure Volkswagen to Canada rather than the U.S. but the Financial Times reported the price was around $15 billion. That’s a lot of public money going to subsidize a private company, even one that will support thousands of jobs. So this week, on “It’s Political” we take a look at what’s driving the case for big subsidies, and how Canada is adopting a green new industrial policy with little public debate. First, we’ll hear from stakeholders and experts on the impact of the United States’ Inflation Reduction Act, and what it could mean here, north of the U.S. border. Then, we’ll sit down with the man some have dubbed Canada’s energizer bunny, Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne. In this episode: Minister Champagne, Lana Payne, the national president of Unifor, Matt Poirier, senior policy director with the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, John Lester, an executive fellow at the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, Marisa Beck, director of Clean Growth with the Canadian Climate Institute, Jean Simard, the president and CEO of the Aluminum Association of Canada, Brian Kingston, the president and CEO of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association, and Genevieve Dufour, a professor of trade law at the University of Sherbrooke. Hosted by Althia Raj Some of the clips this week were sourced from: CPAC, the House of Commons, The White House, CTV, CBC, The Andrew Lawton Show, Street Sport Television Car show and PBS. “It’s Political” is produced by Althia Raj and Michal Stein. Sean Pattendon mixed the program. Our theme music is by Isaac Joel.
This week on “It’s Political,” we take stock of the supply and confidence agreement the Liberals and NDP agreed to last March. In exchange for supporting the Liberal government on confidence matters until June 2025, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh received assurances Ottawa would enact a dental care program for low and middle income Canadians, as well as move ahead on a number of shared priorities, such as pharmacare, housing, climate change and reconciliation with Canada's Indigenous Peoples. One year later, how have things panned out? First, we’ll hear what the public has to say, including from Liberal and NDP voters, with exclusive polling from Abacus Data. Then, we’ll discuss the risks and benefits of Singh's decision to side so closely with the Liberals with some of the NDP’s best strategists. And finally, we’ll sit down with the NDP leader. In this episode: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, former MP David Christopherson, former NDP director of issues management Ian Wayne, former NDP national director Karl Bélanger, Abacus Data CEO David Coletto, long-time New Democrat Dennis Van Meer, Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan. Hosted by Althia Raj. Some of the clips this week were sourced from the CPAC, the House of Commons, CBC and CTV. “It’s Political” is produced by Althia Raj and Michal Stein. Kevin Sexton mixed the program. Our theme music is by Isaac Joel.
This week on "It’s Political," we take a look at what’s plaguing the country's health-care system, from long wait lines in emergency rooms to the lack of family doctors. What will it take to fix health care in Canada? First, we hear directly from health professionals about the problems they've witnessed firsthand and the solutions they’d like to see. Then, host Althia Raj sits down with Canada’s Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos to discuss the federal government’s new funding arrangement with the provinces, the minister’s expectations of what the money will buy, and his stance on the increasing presence of for-profit care. In this episode: Canada’s Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Toronto Star health reporter Megan Ogilvie, former federal health minister Dr. Jane Philpott, a family doctor, dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and director of the School of Medicine at Queen’s University, and CEO of the Southeastern Ontario Academic Medical Organization, Dr. Taylor Lougheed, a family, emergency, sport, and cannabinoid physician and chief of emergency medicine services at the North Bay Regional Hospital, longtime registered public health nurse Maureen Cava, who now works with the Safehaven Project for Community Living in Toronto, Dr. Katharine Smart, the past president of the Canadian Medical Association and a pediatrician who works in Whitehorse, Yukon, Dr. Alika LaFontaine, the president of the Canadian Medical Association and an anesthesiologist in Grande Prairie, Alberta, registered nurse Melanie Spence, who works in primary care in a community health centre in Toronto, Dr. Tara Kiran, a family doctor at St Michael's Hospital, a scientist at the MAP Center for Urban Health Solutions, and the Fidani Chair in Improvement and Innovation at the University of Toronto. Hosted by Althia Raj. Some of the clips this week were sourced from the CBC, Global, CTV and CPAC. “It’s Political” is produced by Althia Raj and Michal Stein. Kevin Sexton mixed the program. Our theme music is by Isaac Joel.
This week on “It’s Political,” we bring you Toronto Star’s columnist Susan Delacourt’s interview with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The two sat down together on Jan. 17 in Windsor, Ont., for a candid conversation on his future and the future of his government. In this episode: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Toronto Star columnist Susan Delacourt. Hosted by Althia Raj. 08:10 - On what’s shaping his views right now 10:56 - On the so-called “Freedom Convoy” hatred towards him 12:47 - On the criticism he’s ashamed of Canada’s past 16:05 - On Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre 20:14 - On why he plans to stick around for the next election 23:36 - On NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and the agreement with the NDP 25:27 - On the timing of the next election 25:55 - On U.S. President Joe Biden and the North American economy 30:42 - On being a “disruptor” 32:46 - On getting government to move faster 34:21 - On Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s health care reforms 36:17 - On the need for better data 38:30 - On what keeps him up at night. “It’s Political” is produced by Althia Raj and Michal Stein. Kevin Sexton mixed the program. Our theme music is by Isaac Joel.
This week on “It’s Political,” we dive into ministerial accountability. Mistakes and ethical lapses happen all the time. Whether it’s allowing tins of tainted tuna to hit the market or leaving secure documents where they shouldn’t be, Canadian parliamentarians have a long history of resigning when they mess up. Today, we ask the question: Why does it seem like ministers don’t step down anymore? First, political science professors Alex Marland, Jonathan Malloy, and Donald Savoie give us a civics lesson on why ministerial accountability is such an important part of our system of government. Then, we’ll sit down with Conservative MP Michael Chong, former Liberal MP Scott Simms, and Lori Turnbull, the director of the School of Public Administration at Dalhousie University, to discuss what role ministerial accountability plays today and how MPs can do a better job of holding ministers to account. Thanks this week to Alison Pier at Library and Archives Canada, Jacqueline Lee and Michel Gagnon at CPAC, Toronto Star Halifax reporter Steve McKinley, as well as the House of Commons, CBC Archives, CPAC, CTV, and Global for footage. “It’s Political” is produced by Althia Raj and Michal Stein. Sean Pattendon mixes the program. Our theme music is by Isaac Joel.
This week on “It’s Political,” we dig into the government’s rationale for invoking the Emergencies Act to end last winter's "Freedom Convoy" protests. First, Toronto Star reporters Tonda MacCharles and Alex Ballingall will walk us through all of the drama and pivot points exposed during the Public Order Emergency Commission’s hearings. The parade of high-profile witnesses and thousands of internal documents, including private correspondence, offered an unprecedented look inside government decision-making, and some of the stresses within federal-provincial relations. Then, we’ll sit down with national security law expert Leah West and national security expert Stephanie Carvin, both from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University, to discuss that critical question: did Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government meet the legal threshold required to use the Emergencies Act? Their answers may surprise you. Thanks this week to CPAC, the Public Order Emergency Commission, CBC and Global for some of the clips used during this episode. “It’s Political” is produced by Althia Raj and Michal Stein. Sean Pattendon mixes the program. Our theme music is by Isaac Joel.
This week on "It’s Political," we tackle some of the issues around the expansion of medical assistance in dying (MAID) in Canada. A word of caution. Today’s program discusses death and suicide. Please take care while listening. If you are having suicidal thoughts, there is help. The Canada Suicide Prevention Service can be reached at 1-833-456-4566 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year or online at www.crisisservicescanada.ca. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911. First, we’ll bring you the story of a Toronto man named Michael Fraser who died using MAID this summer. Toronto Star investigative reporter Rob Cribb and Fraser’s doctor Nav Persaud bring us some of the complicated and intertwined issues Fraser’s choice brings to light. This audio documentary includes footage of Fraser. Next, we’ll check in with two MPs who sit on the joint Senate and House of Commons committee that has been charged with reviewing provisions of the Criminal Code relating to medical assistance in dying. Then, we’ll sit down with Justice Minister David Lametti for his thoughts on MAID’s expansion and some of the cracks we’re seeing develop in the system. Thanks this week to Investigative Journalism Bureau’s Charlie Buckley, Thea Gribilas and Declan Keogh for collecting the footage of Michael Fraser. Some of the footage also comes from ParlVu, CityNews and CTV. “It’s Political” is produced by Althia Raj and Michal Stein. Sean Pattendon masterfully mixes the program. Our theme music is by Isaac Joel.
This week on "It’s Political," we focus on the inflation crisis and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s fall economic update. First, we’ll look back on what policies, decisions and events contributed to the current inflation numbers that are putting the squeeze on many Canadian households with Toronto Star Ottawa bureau chief and economics columnist Heather Scoffield; Kevin Page, the president and CEO of the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy at the University of Ottawa; and Rebekah Young, Scotiabank’s vice-president and head of inclusion and resilience economics. Some of the clips this week were sourced from the CBC, CPAC, CTV, the House of Commons, Policy Speaking, NBC, the BBC, Sky News, BNN Bloomberg, and Omar Alghabra’s Twitter feed. “It’s Political” is produced by Althia Raj and Michal Stein. Sean Pattendon makes our show sound great. Our theme music is by Isaac Joel.
“It’s Political" will be coming to you a little bit later today because of yesterday’s Fiscal update. We’ll have a round table discussion on Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s latest numbers, and look back on what’s led to these rising interest rates and the possible recession around the corner.
This week on "It’s Political," we take a deep dive into the controversial Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act. Is it really about censorship and government control over what you see and listen to on the internet? Or is it about safeguarding and promoting Canadian culture and the French language in Quebec on new streaming platforms? In this episode: Toronto Star reporter Raisa Patel, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, Saskatchewan Senator Pamela Wallin, Alberta Senator Paula Simons, Quebec Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne, Canadian Association of Broadcaster President Kevin Desjardins, University of Ottawa Professor Michael Geist, YouTuber J. J. McCullough, Carleton University Professor Dwayne Winseck, YouTube’s Director of Product Todd Beaupré, YouTuber ClydeDoSomethin, former heritage minister Steven Guilbeault, Independent Ontario Sen. Donna Dasko, Anthony Furey formerly of the Toronto Sun, Conservative MP Tim Uppal, TikTok Canada’s Steve de Eyre, and Canadian Association of Film Distributors and Exporters President Noah Segal. Hosted by Althia Raj. Some of the clips this week were taken from Facebook, YouTube, the CBC, the House of Commons and the Senate’s Standing Committee on Transport and Communications. “It’s Political” is produced by Althia Raj and Michal Stein. Sean Pattendon mixed the program. Our theme music is by Isaac Joel.
This week on “It’s Political,” we focus on the threads connecting François Legault’s big win in Monday’s election in Quebec and the United Conservative Party leadership race in Alberta — culminating in Danielle Smith's victory — and ask what if we are having a constitutional crisis and no one is noticing? In this episode: Constitutional lawyer Marion Sandilands from Conway Litigation, former journalist and independent senator André Pratte, University of Calgary political science professor Lisa Young, and Business Council of Canada vice-president of policy Robert Asselin. Hosted by Althia Raj. Some of the clips this week were sourced from the Montreal Gazette, CBC, CPAC, CTV, CityTV, Radio-Canada, Global News, TVA, The Big Story podcast and the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. “It’s Political” is produced by Althia Raj and Michal Stein. Sean Pattendon mixed the program. Our theme music is by Isaac Joel.
This week on "It’s Political," we focus on Pierre Poilievre’s leadership. First, we’ll take a look back at the divisive leadership race and Poilievre’s big win. Then we’ll sit down with Yan Plante, the former chief of staff to transport minister Denis Lebel in Stephen Harper’s government, and Melanie Paradis, a long-time advisor and deputy campaign manager to Erin O’Toole during his successful leadership bid, to discuss Poilievre’s first few days as Official Opposition leader, his messaging and voter coalition and what to watch for as he puts his mark on the party. In this episode: Toronto Star reporter Stephanie Levitz, Hamish Marshall from Pierre Poilievre’s leadership campaign, former Conservative staffer Rudy Husny and Philippe J. Fournier of 338Canada.com, as well as TACT vice-president Yan Plante and Texture Communications’ president Melanie Paradis, both former senior Conservative advisors. Hosted by Althia Raj. Thanks this week to Toronto Star reporter Kieran Leavitt, as well as CBC, CPAC, CTV, and Pierre Poilievre’s Facebook page. “It’s Political” is produced by Althia Raj and Michal Stein. Sean Pattendon mixed the program. Our theme music is by Isaac Joel.
This week on It’s Political, we focus on political polarization and the political advantages and drawbacks of sowing division, and whether Canadians are really that divided. Guests: Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, Abacus Data CEO David Coletto, Marci Surkes, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s former executive director of policy and cabinet affairs, Karl Bélanger, former NDP principal to Jack Layton, Melanie Paradis, the former communications director to Erin O’Toole, as well as True North broadcaster Andrew Lawton and Riwi’s Rikki Sargent.
Guests: Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, Ottawa City Councillor Diane Deans, the former chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board. This week on It’s Political, we unpack the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act, the never-before-used legislation that was invoked to bring an end to the so-called Freedom Convoy’s occupation of Ottawa. First, we’ll look at the occupation through the eyes of longtime Ottawa City Councillor Diane Deans. Deans was chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board while the force struggled to get resources and restore order, a crisis that eventually led to the departures of chief of police, Peter Sloly, and Deans herself. Then, we sit down with Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino to discuss the act's use, whether or not it was necessary, and if it was a political answer to a policing problem.
This week on It’s Political, we focus on the Conservative leadership race. First, we take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each of the six candidates and their strategies. Then, we go behind the scenes at campaign events to hear directly from members and potential party members about what they want to see from a new Conservative leader. And then, we sit down with leadership contestant and former Quebec premier Jean Charest
Guests: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, along with Jennifer Howard, Singh’s chief of staff, NDP National Director Anne McGrath, Star columnist Susan Delacourt, former NDP staffer Brad Lavigne, Liberal Government House Leader Mark Holland and Abacus Data CEO David Coletto. Hosted by Althia Raj This week on "It’s Political," we take stock of the NDP-Liberal supply and confidence agreement. First, with a behind-the-scenes look at how the deal came together, with the voices of those who did the negotiating. And then, we sit down with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. He accuses the Liberals of already breaking the spirit of the agreement, but hear why he’s not ready to pull the plug.
‘It's Political with Althia Raj’ is the Toronto Star’s new Canadian politics podcast. Every two weeks, Raj brings listeners behind the scenes on Parliament Hill with exclusive interviews, in-depth reporting and thoughtful analysis. Join us as we explore the ins and the outs of the drama unfolding in Ottawa with humour and intelligence.The first episode drops Thursday, May 5. Listen and follow or subscribe here.
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