National Newswatch

An environment chapter with teeth

Feb 13 2020 — Dale Smith — No trade deal is ever perfect, and the new NAFTA agreement – otherwise known as either USMCA or CUSMA – is hardly an exception to the rule. Critics have pointed to several flaws, from insufficient improvements to the labour provisions to pharma patent rules that offer inadequate protection to consumers. And on the biggest challenge […]

Oversight at the border

Jan 28 2020 — Dale Smith — Since their creation in 2003, the Canada Border Services Agency remains the sole enforcement organization with police-like powers in the country that has no independent civilian oversight. Judges, lawyers and parliamentarians cannot have access to immigration detention facilities, as they do to correctional facilities. The only complaint mechanism available is internal to CBSA’s structure. Only […]

Can Canada put Harry and Meghan to work?

Jan 15 2020 — Dale Smith — News that Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, plan to move to Canada, has been met with scorn in the U.K. and great enthusiasm on our shores. While the National Post published a poll that showed that 60 per cent of Canadians would like Harry to become the next Governor General, and others are […]

When Canada’s legislatures don’t sit, we all lose

Jul 8 2019 — Dale Smith — “I try never to go over there. Because it’s sick. It’s a sick culture.” These words have stayed with me since then-B.C. premier Christy Clark uttered them in 2012, defending her decision to cancel an entire sitting of the legislature. “All they can think about is government, and there are no real people in Victoria, […]

Fact-checking Conservative Twitter

Jun 28 2018 — Dale Smith — In recent weeks, the Conservatives—and leader Andrew Scheer in particular —have been making a number of claims about the government that seem to stretch credulity. The reason, if we are to believe pundits like Andrew MacDougall (who has written about this in Maclean’s) and Rachel Curran, is to establish a narrative that Trudeau is a […]

What Patrick Brown reveals about Canada’s broken leadership systems

Feb 19 2018 — Dale Smith — The saga of former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown’s selection, resignation, and last-minute second attempt at the party’s leadership is nothing short of an omnishambles. He’s been ejected from caucus, but with—as Brown says—the support of Ontarians he’s heard from, despite the sexual misconduct allegations that lost him the confidence of his party, he […]

Lawyers unhappy with CBA over tax stance

Sep 18 2017 — Dale Smith — The Canadian Bar Association’s decision to join with other small business groups in protesting the federal government’s planned changes to private incorporation tax rules has some lawyers revoking their membership in protest, saying that it’s not something they should be fighting against. “I don’t feel like I was adequately consulted before they took this position,” […]

Protected nominations for MPs are an affront to our democracy

Jul 10 2017 — Dale Smith — As this parliament nears its halfway mark, and the next election date starts to loom larger and larger, incumbent Liberal MPs are starting to grumble a little about what might happen to them in the lead-up—that is, whether or not the fact that they are MPs means they’ve already locked up their riding’s nomination for […]

Where is the ‘Never Kellie’ movement?

Dec 20 2016 — Dale Smith — Despite concerns about xenophobia in the American election, few conservative Canadians are publicly denouncing Leitch’s Trump-style campaign. Kellie Leitch, Conservative leadership candidate and demagogue, has been grabbing headlines left and right (mostly right) these days. From her desire to implement a “Canadian values test” for anyone visiting the country to her war against so-called media […]

Liberals cap off parliamentary sitting with holiday party

Dec 15 2016 — Dale Smith — After the House of Commons rose Wednesday afternoon for the holidays, Liberal MPs, staff and supporters all flocked to the Shaw Convention Centre for their annual holiday gathering. Organized by national caucus chair Francis Scarpaleggia, media was assured that the $100-a-plate dinner was not a political fundraiser but was organized by the caucus and the […]

A new era for government — almost

Dec 16 2015 — Dale Smith — While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has included reforming Question Period in his democratic reform agenda, the changes he’s making in the Senate affect that chamber’s Question Period as well. Put together, the changes to both Houses’ QPs could have the adverse effect of undermining the ability of parliament to hold the government to account — […]