National Newswatch

Stephen Harper looks at ‘glass half full’ in Trump’s victory

Jan 19 2017 — Paul Wells — Well, look who’s talking. Mr. Optimist. “I know we are all worried about what this means,” Stephen Harper said on Thursday in New Delhi. “I’m trying to look at the glass half full for a second.” He always was a cheery sort. After his 2015 election defeat, Canada’s sixth-longest-serving prime minister took a long break […]


As Trudeau tours, world rushes ahead: Paul Wells

Jan 17 2017 — Paul Wells — There’s an odd disconnect between Justin Trudeau’s industrious tour of small-town and mid-sized Canada this week and the events rattling the world outside. Politically the contrast is probably healthy. On Friday, Donald Trump will proclaim his faith in forgotten ordinary Americans. While he does that, Prime Minister Trudeau is wise to catch up with ordinary […]


Should Ottawa be aiming for a ‘moonshot’?

Jan 13 2017 — Paul Wells — Canadian focus groups were asked last year whether Ottawa should invest in high-tech schemes including self-driving cars, drone delivery and Internet balloons. One of the best little rules in Ottawa requires that public opinion research done for the government be made public after it is submitted. When you know what the feds are polling on, […]


Stéphane Dion presented special challenges

Jan 11 2017 — Paul Wells — Stéphane Dion has always been every Liberal leader’s special gift. When Justin Trudeau announced a renewed Liberal cabinet that had no place for Dion, it was clear Dion’s refusal to accept the sinecure Trudeau had offered — simultaneous appointments, it is reported, as ambassador to Germany and to the European Union — was putting a […]


Trudeau wields carrots and sticks

Jan 10 2017 — Paul Wells — That’s one way to keep MPs on their toes. Justin Trudeau kicked three ministers out of his cabinet on Tuesday even though none had provoked the sort of scandal that normally merits such a sanction. And he promoted three rookies to serious jobs. That’s both more carrot and more stick than most prime ministers have […]


Justin Trudeau tries to shake air of entitlement

Jan 7 2017 — Paul Wells — Somewhere in the sullen sandstone bunker of Ottawa’s Langevin Block, somebody has finally pulled the populism alarm. You know the one. It says IN CASE OF ENTITLEMENT, BREAK GLASS. Beneath that inscription, in a smaller font, it says I MEAN, FEEL FREE TO WAIT A WHILE, BECAUSE ENTITLEMENT IS FUN. BUT IF IT GETS REALLY […]


Trudeau in mood to make modest changes to cabinet

Jan 6 2017 — Paul Wells — Count back from known events. Late this month the Trudeau cabinet will hold a two-day retreat outside Ottawa. The last time the prime minister summoned his colleagues for one of these occasional getaways, in Sudbury at the end of August, he gave a few ministers new jobs and shook up the committees that organize their […]


A swing and a miss on climate for Patrick Brown

Jan 4 2017 — Paul Wells — Happy New Year, Patrick Brown. The Ontario Conservative leader figured he’d start 2017 by swatting an easy pitch out of the park. Unfortunately he wound up batting himself in the face. To celebrate the new year, Brown decided it was time for some clarity on his climate-change policy. This should not have been hard. If […]


What Mulcair’s ouster has in common with Brexit and Trump

Dec 17 2016 — Paul Wells — If we remember 2016 years from now — if, in other words, our concerted efforts to blot out the memory of this wretched year fail — it will surely be for the huge political surprises it brought. This was the year of Brexit, after all, or at least of a majority vote for Britain’s departure […]


Few signs Justin Trudeau has delivered on promises

Dec 16 2016 — Paul Wells — Here’s Justin Trudeau explaining his mission to the Guardian, the leading centre-left newspaper in Great Britain: “What we’re facing right now — in terms of the rise of populism and divisive and fearful narratives around the world — it’s based around the fact that globalization doesn’t seem to be working for the middle class, for […]


Report on legalization of pot contains highs and lows

Dec 14 2016 — Paul Wells — Reading the 106-page report of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, with its determinedly bland cover design and its epically drab title, “A Framework For the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada,” it’s hard to shake the urge to blow off a little steam by sparking up a great big bowl of […]


Trudeau not overly eager to talk health care

Dec 9 2016 — Paul Wells — On Friday evening, something will happen that hasn’t happened in nearly 13 years. The prime minister and the provincial premiers will talk about Canada’s health-care system. Oh, the fun they had last time! Paul Martin was the prime minister. He had run and won re-election on a promise to “fix health care for a generation.” […]


Whose democracy is this? Take our survey on electoral reform

Dec 6 2016 — Paul Wells — In the wake of the Trudeau government’s quirky and widely criticized online electoral reform consultation,, we here at the Star decided to try our own version. It’s a bit like the one the feds launched this week — except it asks about things the Liberals somehow forgot to mention – like referendums. As a […]


Can Trudeau counter populist angst?

Dec 6 2016 — Paul Wells — In his meeting with the Star’s editorial board the other day, Justin Trudeau said some things about the rise of populism in Western politics that bear another look. At least since the beginning of this year, the prime minister has been careful not to talk about Donald Trump much, or to analyze the political currents […]