Change of Guard

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," January 24, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Big political shakeup in the Great White North. Canadian voters gave the Liberals the boot and put the Conservatives in charge. So what does it all mean?

Let's ask David Frum, a former speechwriter for President Bush and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. David also happens to be a Canadian.

So, David, you know, a lot is being made of this down here that the Conservatives got the nod from voters and that means relations will improve with the U.S. Is that true?

DAVID FRUM, FORMER BUSH SPEECHWRITER: I think they will improve. You know, the last government sort of made it a point of principle to put as many fingers in the eyes of the Americans as they could. There are always going to be disagreements between friends, but to go out of your way to be difficult and obnoxious, that's really uncalled for.

And the last Liberal government, as their popularity dwindled, they kept looking for support farther and farther to the left. And the result is as you see.

This is a big story. I don't think a lot of Americans understand. Canada is America's No. 1 source of energy. And they're now finding a huge, unconventional oil field in northern Alberta that is as big as all of the oil under Saudi Arabia. It's in sand. It's not in a pool, so it's a little more difficult to extract.

But the integration of these two economies offers a lot of advantages. And the ability of the two governments to work together is going to be big news.

GIBSON: But, David, as I do the math, the lefty parties still ended up with a far majority, even though they're not running things.

It still sounds as though, once you scratch the surface, it's the same old liberal Canada under there.

FRUM: Well, not exactly. There are four parties in Canada, so it's hard to get up to a majority status. But the Conservatives have been locked out of power entirely since 1993.

And those lefty parties, at least the biggest of them, the Liberals, are going to be pretty demoralized. They were quite taken by surprise. They expected to win this election. They expected to win it handily. Their leader has now resigned. There's going to be a lot of chaos inside that party. This is going to be a very strong and effective government even though they're going to have to work with the other parties.

And the person who leads it, Stephen Harper, he's a really remarkable person. He's got a very strong sense of where he wants to go. He's a very able political leader, and he's a very strong personality.

GIBSON: So what changes, then, right away? I mean, I guess the days of Jean Chretien and calling Bush a moron aren't completely over. But what does change?

FRUM: Well, one of the things that changes is that under Jean Chretien they had built quite a system of corruption in Ottawa. I mean, things that would make Jack Abramoff feel like he's taking working for petty tips. A hundred million dollars or more is unaccounted for. Not all of that was stolen, but it's all missing.

So there's going to be a big cleanup that's going to have, I think, big effects on the Liberal Party. You're going to see a cut in Canada's taxes, both in the national sales tax and then later in other taxes, as well.

You're going to see a crackdown on crime. I don't think a lot of people understand this, but the crime rate in Canada has now overtaken the crime rate in the United States. People think of Canada as being a safer place. That used to be true. It isn't anymore.

And I think you're going to see just a more grown-up relationship between the two countries. You know, in the past year, the number of Canadian troops in Afghanistan has doubled. So it's going to be a big investment in making those forces more effective. So these are serious changes.

GIBSON: All right. David Frum, let's hope the booing at the peewee hockey games is over. David, thanks very much.

FRUM: Thank you. Can't promise good manners.

GIBSON: Yes, well, we'll try.

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