National Newswatch

Freeland wins a waiver from PMO contro

Nov 21 2019 — Don Martin — If the new crop of cabinet ministers appear a little lost for words, beyond gushing thanks for their $85,000 pay raise, it’s because they don’t yet know what to think. Their marching orders haven’t arrived. The Mandate Letters, still being penned by the Prime Minister’s Office, will soon come down from on high as commandments […]

The Bloc leader stokes a Prairie fire

Nov 14 2019 — Don Martin — The jury’s out on whether the charismatic new Bloc Quebecois leader is naïve, blindly principled or dangerous. Yves-Francois Blanchet waded into his first scrum on Parliament Hill to shrug off any interest in helping create a happy united Canada. Fair enough. Even though he gets a paycheque from Canadian taxpayers, his party’s defining goal is […]

Scheer audacity to expect a win without change

Nov 7 2019 — Don Martin — Conservative MPs didn’t actually refuse to knife their leader’s back this week. They just opted to let party members do it in the spring. It’s the smart play to divert the blood flow to the convention floor. An excited new caucus is no place to remove or even review a leader who just delivered 23 […]

MacKay fires first shot in a leadership takedown

Oct 31 2019 — Don Martin — Peter MacKay has never mastered the art of the zinger. The former Harper cabinet minister of many portfolios talks in basic bland – rarely creative, never particularly thought-provoking and usually fluently scripted. So when he took aim at Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s election performance using a crisp, beautifully-timed analogy and analysis, it was not MacKay’s […]

The canary that choked in the Prairie coal mine

Oct 24 2019 — Don Martin — Driving through Liberal candidate Ralph Goodale’s riding in Regina on Monday, I noticed his re-election signs were nowhere which meant the signs of what was coming were everywhere. Hours later came a surprisingly epic defeat as a senior cabinet minister with 26 years of uninterrupted service saw a 10,000-vote victory cushion in 2015 collapse into […]

The frontrunners who threw dirt lost ground

Oct 18 2019 — Don Martin — After 40 days filled with promise demonizations, character assassinations and plenty of dashed expectations, the federal election campaign rests on Sunday. If there’s common agreement across a polarized electorate, it’s that the noisy vitriol spewing into the electoral wind was irritatingly amplified in the void of substantive campaign content. It wasn’t a total Seinfeldian campaign […]

The disrupters in this election could doom the front-runners’ majority dreams

Oct 11 2019 — Don Martin — The two disrupters in this election share one thing in common. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet are injecting force of personality into a campaign dominated by frontrunners sleepwalking through their scripts. Barely six months ago, Singh’s leadership was doomed with his party in a polling freefall into the political wilderness.

Suddenly, Scheer is on trial by fire

Oct 4 2019 — Don Martin — Talk to a true-blue Conservative for more than five minutes and it inevitably comes out. Their eyes glaze over, they sigh and say something like: “Imagine if we had Rona Ambrose or Lisa Raitt or Peter MacKay as leader. The majority would be in the bag.” Well, maybe.

The knight in shining armour falls hard from his high horse

Sep 19 2019 — Don Martin — Roughly ten years ago, I had lunch with then-backbench MP Justin Trudeau to pitch him on a warts-and-all biography. The way I figured it, he was five years away from being Liberal leader and eight from being prime minister so a book could introduce him to voters without sugarcoating. He listened politely before shrugging off […]

Trudeau sees doing the right thing as ‘counterproductive’

Sep 13 2019 — Don Martin — The weasel word from week one of the campaign was ‘counterproductive’. It would be, as Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has put it every day on the hustings, ‘counterproductive’ for his government to actively defend Quebecers who are denied the right to wear religious symbols and clothing in public service jobs. It’s far more productive to […]

Campaign 2019 is the battle where truth goes to die

Sep 5 2019 — Don Martin — Every campaign war room has pails of political dirt held at the ready until it can be thrown for maximum muddy impact into the faces of reeling opponents. The unofficial Liberal rule is that there’s no statute of limitations on dredging up attack material from the ancient history of first-time leaders in a national campaign. […]

Last words from Parliament’s nearly departed

Jun 6 2019 — Don Martin — Amid the frantic push to complete the government agenda, forcing increasingly-cranky MPs to sit past midnight many nights, some of the better speeches are being delivered in the House of Commons. They’re coming from the MPs saying farewell to politics, either because they’re sick of the place, fed up with the toxicity of the job […]