National Newswatch

Debate needed on free speech limits in digital era

Sep 2 2017 — Robin V. Sears — Nearly half a century ago, the Star’s long campaign for a ban on hate speech collided with a famous hater. It was at the beginning of the culture wars that bedevil our political discourse still. My father’s editorial in defence of Pierre Trudeau’s new Hate Literature Act set off a legal battle that lasted nearly […]

Trudeau adviser Butts must negotiate with Trump’s Bannon

Aug 17 2017 — Robin V. Sears — The great Israeli statesman, Yitzhak Rabin, tragically murdered just as he was on the verge of pushing a deal with Yasser Arafat, toward a two-state solution, was frequently attacked by the right for his dialogue with the Palestinians. His explosion at his foolish critics — “You negotiate with your enemies!” — has gone into the […]

The allures of the power of personality

Jul 28 2017 — Robin V. Sears — Presbyterians of every type curl their lips at the power of political iconography. Not for them the inexplicable star power of a Reagan, Trump or Trudeau. Their collective moue at the somewhat staggering triumph of Justin Trudeau making the cover of Rolling Stone, is merely the latest proof. Tories’ jealous moans reflect merely their failure […]

Opposition leader the toughest job in politics

Jun 25 2017 — Robin V. Sears — Since we abolished real gladiatorial contests, there is no tougher first day on the job than a nervous new leader of an opposition party. You face your first Question Period, with the prime minister of the day grinning widely at the prospect of slicing you from stem to gudgeon. The galleries are full, the media […]

Letting ambition put your party at risk

Jun 18 2017 — Robin V. Sears — Voters judge a party’s eligibility for leadership by their assessment of character as well as policies. Cowardice and embarrassing behaviour are universal disqualifiers. The most certain disqualifier is disunity. In 1939, M.J. Coldwell risked splitting the CCF over his support for the Second World War, while his pacifist leader, J.S. Woodworth, was opposed. Except that […]

How Macron and Trump changed politics

Jun 11 2017 — Robin V. Sears — As offended as each man would be by the comparison, Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump are the yin and yang of a fascinating new political phenomenon. Each has overturned their political establishments to the horror of veteran politicians and pundits on all sides. France has had a conservative/socialist bipartisan political culture since the decline of […]

Successful leaders show respect, not scorn

Jun 4 2017 — Robin V. Sears — “Keep Your Dirty Government Fingers Off My Medicare,” said a sign waved at Sarah Palin’s “Death Panel Tour” events. It was roundly mocked by progressives for its ignorance of who delivers assisted health services in the U.S. We should have listened more carefully to the subtext. The death panel nonsense was among the creation moments […]

The election starter’s pistol was fired Saturday night

May 28 2017 — Robin V. Sears — Absurd as it is, the 2019 election campaign began on Saturday night. The Tories new leader, followed by the NDP’s in a few months’ time, will end the improbable period through which the Liberals have been sailing. Justin Trudeau has yet to face a popularly mandated opposition leader. That happy interlude will soon end. All […]

Finding a way to trump a congenital liar

May 21 2017 — Robin V. Sears — A few weeks ago, across this page, my friend and former partner Jaime Watt, smacked smart-aleck progressives for insults about short fingers, long ties, and dim bulbs as their Trump attack strategy. He’s right: insult and satire are rarely effective tools in shifting political allegiances. As Jaime pointed out they can even solidify one’s base […]

B.C. on the cusp of a better kind of ‘different’

May 14 2017 — Robin V. Sears — British Columbians are fond of bragging to foreigners that B.C. is different. Foreigners being, of course, anyone from across the mountains. They have a point, but not perhaps in the way they mean. B.C. is the only province to have sanctioned the state-sponsored murder of a trade union leader, Ginger Goodwin. The only place in […]

Mayo medicare’s next mission

May 7 2017 — Robin V. Sears — A few hundred miles south of the birthplace of medicare, what many Canadians see as one of our defining political achievements, there is small town in Minnesota where they did it much better than us. It’s an amazing story. Tommy Douglas’s long battle to build a universal health-care system in depression-battered Saskatchewan provoked a colossal […]

Canada and China, a rapidly evolving relationship

Apr 30 2017 — Robin V. Sears — It’s often small signals that reveal massive changes taking place just beneath the surface in a community. On a whirlwind trip to China, several cues to developing trends stopped me in my tracks. Having been a visitor for almost 35 years, I have had my nose to the glass at China’s transformation from impoverished agricultural […]

The artistry of balancing federalism

Apr 23 2017 — Robin V. Sears — Like a master juggler, a successful Canadian premier or prime minister needs to be able to balance half a dozen spinning plates on their head, hands and feet on the national stage. Have one knocked off its perch, or miscalculating and having two collide and the political costs can be high. First, you must be […]

Trump, Bannon learning ‘Washington Always Wins’

Apr 16 2017 — Robin V. Sears — It was one of those large holiday season receptions that take place in every capital city before Christmas 2014, only months before the end of the Harper decade. The setting was a fine old home in Rockcliffe, the Rosedale of Canada’s capital. The usual collection of journalists, diplomats, politicians and their staffs, lobbyists and bureaucrats […]

Thank God for Watergate

Apr 9 2017 — Robin V. Sears — As a whey-faced TV news-writer I was seized by the Watergate scandal, including it in my news script every night for months. I cannot claim any youthful wisdom drove this. Having been raised in a family whose politics ran from hard left to soft liberal, whose prosperity was based on journalism and politics, I was […]