There was a time when you couldn't open a newspaper without seeing the name Stockwell Day. He was, after all, the leader of the Canadian Alliance Party and then a senior cabinet minister in the Harper government.
Now, almost two years removed from the ‘Ottawa bubble’, Day lives in British Columbia and keeps himself busy as principle of Stockwell Day Connex, a corporate and government relations advisory firm. He also sits on several corporate boards including Telus.
Personally, the 62 year old has 14 grandchildren — in the age range of one to 17 — that keep him on the go.
Yahoo! Canada News recently caught up with Day to talk to him about life after federal politics, Justin Trudeau and the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline.
Here are some excerpts from his interview with Yahoo! Canada:
Y! Canada: Do you miss federal politics?
Day: I haven’t had time, quite frankly. I loved every day I went to work in politics. I love what I’m doing now.
I do still get involved politically. I’m helping the B.C. Liberals in the upcoming election. I’m helping the party as a whole just in terms of overall election planning. And I work with a number of existing candidates and wannabe candidates.
On the federal scene, Justin Trudeau is getting a lot of attention. What is your opinion of him? He’s been criticized for not having substance and for not being ready to be leader. What are your thoughts on that?
First of all nobody is ever really ready. That’s on-the-job learning and it’s a position that forges you in the heat of the decision.
I got to know him — obviously we were fellow MPs. I have a lot of respect for him. He is genuinely a nice guy.
When people used to laugh and say ‘he doesn't have his father’s brain, there’s no way he could do this’ I constantly — for the last two or three years — have been telling my colleagues 'do not laugh at this guy, do not dismiss him, he may not have his father’s brain but he’s got a big heart and he has the ability to win people over.'
I think he’s also got the ability to listen to his advisers. And you’ll see advisers come around him as his leadership coalesces.
Many people, including some in the media that are dismissive of him, do not understate this guy and he will be a force to be dealt with.
It’s been said that governments in Canada tend to have a ‘shelf-life’ of eight or nine years. Do you think the Conservatives can get past that in the next election and win the next election?
I think they can. I’m not just saying that for partisan reasons. I think what Stephen Harper has proven is that a record of solid down-to-earth governing, keeping spending and taxes under control — that will get you enough votes to give you a majority. I think he’s proven that and I’m sure he’ll stick to that basic formula. As much as I think Justin is going to get a lot of attention.
I do believe that the other two parties will get together at some point – the NDP and Liberals. They posture and position differently, but as the Reform and the Progressive Conservatives found, you spend enough years in the wilderness, you will start to make arrangements with others to get out of the wilderness and the Liberals and NDP will do that one day.
When? It’s just a matter of time.
Do you think a Liberal/NDP merger could happen before the 2015 election?
I think it would be tough for Trudeau to pull that off in that timeline. I think he’ll be sort of feeling flush about having won the leadership race and he’ll be wanting to get the feel of what it’s like to be leader of the opposition.
I would doubt it will happen before this next election, but after the 2015 election all bets are off and I would say you will see a coming together of those two parties.
I’d like to get your thoughts on the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. You were a cabinet minister in Alberta, you now live in B.C. and you were a federal trade minister. How important is the Gateway pipeline and do you ever see it coming to fruition given the frosty relationship between the two premiers in B.C. and Alberta?
[There is a] demand for resources, technologies and personnel in countries that are going through absolutely unheard growth — that would be China, India, some South American countries.
Well, they need to build houses, they need infrastructure, they need clean technology, they need water sewage treatment plants. If Canada does not market the resources, the technologies and the people to these countries; if we stifle ourselves and shut down all these projects, [then] those countries will get all of these products and resources and technologies from other countries that are less democratic [and] that don’t have the same environmental standards.
Our resources and our talent will remain buried in the ground, we will become less prosperous.
So whether it’s that particular pipeline or not, there needs to be a much more responsible approach — on all sides — to pointing out that sustainable development can happen and that it has to happen. Canada can produce it for the rest of the world and we have the opportunity of losing out. And I am very very concerned about that.
Do you think you’d run for political office again?
That’s not even on my radar at all.
The Weekly One-on-One appears Wednesdays
on Yahoo! Canada News.