National Newswatch

No magic political wand to wish down the barricades

Feb 20 2020 — Don Martin — A retired General Motors worker from Michigan was doing his running-on-the-spot aquacise routine in a Florida pool the other day, trying to digest our conversation on Canada’s Indigenous rail blockades. But his confusion only grew as I tried to explain the issue of Wet’suwet’en elected chief support clashing with hereditary chief opposition to the Coastal […]

MacKay’s every misstep getting billboard-sized exposure

Feb 5 2020 — Don Martin — Welcome to five-month frontrunner hell, Peter MacKay. With every indication pointing to a victory-bound cakewalk to the Conservative leadership, if not an outright coronation, the former Harper cabinet minister is being media-microscoped with every misstep getting breathless billboard-sized exposure. It has always been thus for leaders-in-waiting, of course.

Unleashing the auditor general on the invisible Liberal infrastructure plan

Jan 30 2020 — Don Martin — Back in the gloom of the 2009 recession, they were everywhere. Blue and green signs blanketed the countryside, proclaiming Conservative government emergency spending on everything from highways to hiking trails stretching from the eastern tip of Cape Spear to the pounding surf of Tofino, B.C. They were backed by a television commercial blitz which had […]

Nobodies take over the Conservative leadership race

Jan 23 2020 — Don Martin — The nobodies are pounding on the door while the somebodies bolt for the exit in a Conservative leadership race hemorrhaging political status and credibility. The lineup is getting messier, murkier and less moderate by the day — and the only smiles are on Liberal faces. Former interim leader Rona Ambrose was the best hope for […]

The lingering clout of Stephen Harper gets a leadership test

Jan 16 2020 — Don Martin — The longer he’s not prime minister, the more interesting and influential Stephen Harper becomes. This week saw a flurry of headlines breathlessly covering his comments on Iran, which would-be Conservative leadership bid he will endorse and his resignation from the party’s fundraising arm to work at preventing another candidate from getting his old job. Harper […]

Who’s in the running to become the next Conservative leader, and what are their odds?

Jan 9 2020 — Don Martin — It’s attracting less water cooler conversation than Justin Trudeau’s struggling beard, but the race to replace the Conservative leader is about to leave the starting gate. Unfortunately the candidate most likely to win remains on the sidelines, although I’m told former interim leader Rona Ambrose is giving her entry a final weekend of contemplation before […]

Canada’s real plastics problem is the politicians

Dec 20 2019 — Don Martin — Watching the age of personality be eclipsed by the plastic politician has been the most distressing phenomenon to observe as I leave after 40 years in the daily news business. We are in an era where the proliferation of media relations staffing is only exceeded by the decimation of journalism ranks. Ironically, many of those […]

Scheer will enter history books as a one-term mistake

Dec 13 2019 — Don Martin — In the weeks following the election, Andrew Scheer became increasingly isolated in his personal bunker, trying to ignore the pounding of enemy artillery getting ever closer to taking down his leadership of the Conservative party. What should’ve been a thunder of return fire from MPs defending him was replaced by crickets. Even those loyal to […]

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 […]