National Newswatch
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Clown down: The post-O’Leary Conservatives

Apr 26 2017 — Paul Wells — Perhaps now (he said with no real hope), we will stop pretending success in other fields transfers effortlessly to politics. Ken Dryden was a great goalie. He got nowhere as a leadership candidate—and that was in 2006, when, as it turned out, the Liberals could have used a good leader. Marc Garneau was an astronaut. […]

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Softwood lumber: Well, that escalated quickly

Apr 25 2017 — Paul Wells — Wells: On Monday, Fox News carried an interview with a Wisconsin dairy farmer who has hit hard times and blames Canada. The President was watching. “It has been a bad week for U.S.-Canada trade relations [US trade secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement this evening]. Last Monday, it became apparent that Canada intends to […]

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The Liberals’ infrastructure bank takes shape

Apr 21 2017 — Paul Wells — The bill to enable the Trudeau government’s proposed infrastructure bank has been introduced in the House of Commons. It must be one of the Liberals’ biggest and most poorly understood projects: $35 billion from Ottawa as seed money, to attract potentially hundreds of billions from large investors for major new infrastructure projects.

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Good luck with Days 93-100, Mr. President

Apr 21 2017 — Paul Wells — Trump has so far proven that he can’t accomplish much and isn’t particularly worth worrying about—good news for Canada. Donald Trump is tweeting about “the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days,” so let’s apply it. Our standard, of course, should be Donald Trump’s. Before the election, he was super-interested in being held to account […]

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Scowly Liberals legalize the demon weed

Apr 13 2017 — Paul Wells — And now, an edited but faithful reproduction of the background documents the Liberals released with their marijuana bill on Thursday: “…strictly… strictly… restrict… strict… significant penalties… strictly… zero tolerance… dangers… restrict… strictly… restrict… stop criminals… strictly… restrict… punish more severely… tougher… deaths and accidents… risk every day… dangers… punish more severely… oral fluid.” This sets […]

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Bombs don’t make you president

Apr 7 2017 — Paul Wells — There’s a cottage industry constantly calling on U.S. presidents to bomb something because that will make them seem serious. Unfortunately the use of heavy ordnance, when it comes, does not seem to impose a concomitant obligation on the rest of us to be serious too. We get to say whatever the hell we want, apparently.

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Justin Trudeau takes questions—all of them

Apr 6 2017 — Paul Wells — Good for the prime minister for taking questions from every MP who had one in Question Period on Wednesday. He has proposed a single weekly PM’s Questions during which he’d be the only person to take questions from the Opposition. It’s modelled on the way the Brits do it. The opposition understands the unspoken rest […]

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The Tory leadership race wears on—yet the work has barely begun

Apr 3 2017 — Paul Wells — They’re punch-drunk now, with seven gruelling weeks still ahead before they know which of them will lead. They operate mostly on muscle memory and sorely depleted adrenaline stocks. A leadership campaign is a marathon, and surely by now you’d have thought more of the legions competing to lead the Conservative Party of Canada would have […]

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Morneau sees 2017 budget as Chapter 2 of ongoing plan

Mar 23 2017 — Paul Wells — Bill Morneau works in a building named after Jim Flaherty. No pressure there. The very walls seem to ask why Morneau, a political rookie whose adult life before politics was spent in some fairly cushy corporate precincts, can’t seem to display the offhand charm and crusty wit of his late Conservative predecessor. If the walls […]

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Budget is a list of decisions to be made later

Mar 23 2017 — Paul Wells — This is the 22nd or 23rd federal budget I’ve covered. And I’ve never seen the like of the one Bill Morneau introduced on Wednesday. Not even in the last days of the Harper Conservatives did a budget provide for so little new spending — $1.3 billion in the current budget year, total, in all fields […]

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It’s a mystery how the Liberals are encouraging innovation and helping the middle class

Mar 22 2017 — Paul Wells — Wednesday’s budget will be about the middle class and innovation. Maybe it’ll even be helpful! That would be nice. Unfortunately, the Trudeau government’s handling of both files so far has left them in something close to a shambles. I wrote here, somewhat quizzical, after Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos gave a presentation to reporters about […]

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War is hell and Chrystia Freeland has nothing to be ashamed of

Mar 9 2017 — Paul Wells — In 1992 I studied for a school year in Paris. My roommate was French. One night, over cheap port from the local grocery, we got to talking about World War II. “Everyone’s grandparents fought in the Resistance,” my roommate said. He paused for a beat. “The Resistance wasn’t that big.” He was paraphrasing J.B.S. Haldane, […]

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Crucial for Canada’s scientific research efforts to be agile

Mar 7 2017 — Paul Wells — Sometimes to kill time in Ottawa, a few of us old-timers like to speculate about what ever happened to the Naylor report. “Whatever happened to the Naylor report?” Tex will ask, or maybe it’s Mitch. Long silence. “Hard to say,” Four-Eyes will say at last. The rest of us nod sagely. God, we have such […]