National Newswatch

Is “Open Dialogue” the Answer to “Post-Fact” Populism?

Jun 22 2017 — Don Lenihan — If populism has made a comeback in Europe and North America, it’s because so many people feel they have no meaningful voice in government or any control over what it does. Globalization, income inequality, and terrorism are well-known causes of this sense of powerlessness, but public debate and consultation should be added to the list. […]

Goodale’s foray into crime prevention – a trend-setter for Trudeau government?

Aug 18 2016 — Don Lenihan — Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has been making the rounds to talk about an anti-radicalization program. This should be a no-brainer. Who really believes that building ever-larger police forces is the solution to home-grown terrorism? Surely, a better strategy is to prevent radicalization from happening in the first place. But if prevention is a seductively […]

Messaging is a two-way street where Send includes Reply

Jul 5 2016 — Don Lenihan — Electoral reform, a renewed Senate, more open government—Canadians have some big plans to strengthen their democracy. But sometimes it’s the little things that count. Take messages: Is there any connection between the state of our democracy and a willingness to return phone calls or e-mails? An impressive body of evidence suggests there is. Over the […]

The Brexit referendum: lessons on populism (and elitism)

Jul 2 2016 — Don Lenihan — Does Brexit spell the end of referendums? The issue flared up on CBC’s The National last week when Mel Cappe, a former head of the federal public service, declared that issues like Brexit are just too complex for ordinary citizens. There is a place for this kind of discussion, he said: Parliament. I agree that David Cameron made […]

Senators were right to yield to the Commons on C-14

Jun 18 2016 — Don Lenihan — Following a succession of anni horribili, senators have finally caught a break. C-14 on medically assisted dying was a golden opportunity to reaffirm their purpose. They responded admirably; and now they’ve done the right thing again by yielding to the Commons and letting the legislative process take its path. Not everyone agrees. Some senators are having a […]

Three steps for Liberals to up their game on collaboration

May 25 2016 — Don Lenihan — The Liberal campaign promised to make government more open, transparent and collaborative. At the end of last week, lots of people were wondering if that commitment had been thrown under the bus. Was it? It depends who you talk to. In one view, Open Government was always a fraud. People who think this often admire […]

The epiphany of Michael Coren

May 17 2016 — Don Lenihan — A meaningful apology requires sincerity, admission of the harm done, and the will to make amends. Michael Coren’s recent interview with CBC’s Wendy Mesley should be required viewing for this alone. But it is much more than an apology. It is the contemporary equivalent of a morality play that neatly illustrates our ongoing struggles with […]

Assisted Dying: Who is vulnerable to whom?

May 9 2016 — Don Lenihan — Last week, Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose announced that unless Bill C-14 on physician-assisted dying increases protection for vulnerable people, she’ll vote against it. Why is it that when able-bodied, healthy people are called on to assist people with disabilities or illnesses they always assume they’re supposed to protect them? There are other options. The […]

Kellie Leitch “takes responsibility”

Apr 23 2016 — Don Lenihan — The plan to create a barbaric cultural practices tip line may have been at once the dumbest and the ugliest moment of the 2015 campaign. If Kellie Leitch, one of its sponsors, now hopes to lead the Conservative Party, she needs to put it behind her. She tried to do just that last Thursday in […]

Trudeau blinks

Apr 18 2016 — Don Lenihan — Justin Trudeau promised Canadians that he would make the Liberal Party the party of transparency and open government, fairness for the middle class, and respect for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Bill C-14 on physician assisted dying places a big question mark over this pledge. The Charter had been emerging as the flagship of […]