National Newswatch

Sex-Ed in Ontario – Values-based or Evidence-based?

Jul 18 2018 — Don Lenihan — The Ontario sex-ed curriculum has been dogged by controversy since the start – thanks in part to a flawed consultation process. When Doug Ford repealed it last week, he also instructed his new education minister, Lisa Thompson, to fix the process. It’s a worthy task. As someone who does engagement for a living, I’d like […]

Are issues getting too complex for real debate?

Jun 20 2018 — Don Lenihan — Yesterday in this space, I called for an election on how Canada should respond to Trump. In a note, public affairs expert Andrew Beattie neatly laid out what I believe is a widely shared fear about such a debate: the issues are too complex, and it would quickly degenerate into bombast and sloganeering. I see […]

Would an Election on ‘Managing Trump’ Solve Anything?

Jun 19 2018 — Don Lenihan — Yesterday’s byelection in Chicoutimi-Le Fjord was bad news for the Liberals. That’s aluminum country and Liberals were surely hoping the tariffs would translate into a Trump-bump. They didn’t. Does that kill any chance of a national election? No. There is a serious argument to be made for an election, but it turns on Canadians’ national interest, […]

Diplomacy Trump-Style: Understanding Narcissism

Jun 12 2018 — Don Lenihan — Everyone is wondering where Donald Trump’s war of words with Justin Trudeau will end. The president and his surrogates have kept up their attacks on Trudeau since his press conference at the G7. It’s got a lot of people asking: What is Trump’s problem? A surprising number think his actions are simply incomprehensible – the […]

G6 + 1 – An Existential Crisis in the G7?

Jun 4 2018 — Don Lenihan — This week’s G7 summit in Quebec is shaping up as an existential moment for the organization. Donald Trump’s autocratic style has slammed up against the G7’s founding principles, and one of them must yield. The members have some hard choices to make – with or without Trump. Trump, of course, is ratcheting up the tension […]

Would British Columbians say yes to Trans Mountain?

May 28 2018 — Don Lenihan — The clock may be running out on Kinder Morgan. It’s too bad, a solution may be near. British Columbians are increasingly uncomfortable with Premier John Horgan’s stance and seem to be looking for a way out. But so far, no one is helping them find it. Why not? Looked at through an engagement lens, Trans […]

How Bill Clinton laid the foundation for Donald Trump

May 19 2018 — Don Lenihan — Political movements usually have a pedigree, so is there some interesting history behind Trumpism? I think so. And it goes back to none other than Bill Clinton – husband of Hillary – who, ironically, can be said to have laid the political foundation for Donald Trump. In 1992, Clinton was a left-leaning Democrat who wanted […]

Trudeau: the rise (and fall?) of sustainable development

May 14 2018 — Don Lenihan — In 2015, Justin Trudeau gambled on sustainable development. He bet that promising to balance the economy and the environment would win over voters – and it did. They flocked to the Liberals, at least partly because of this commitment. Will it work again in 2019? Conventional wisdom is against it. Trudeau may have been lucky […]

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 […]