National Newswatch

Could a cornered Trump kill NAFTA on his own?

Aug 23 2017 — L. Ian MacDonald — The best thing you can say about the first round of NAFTA talks is also the least thing you can say about them: Donald Trump hasn’t tweeted about them. Yet. He was too busy on other fronts — for instance, abdicating the moral authority of the American presidency in the aftermath of white supremacist rioting […]

The Liberals are spinning their wheels

Jun 21 2017 — L. Ian MacDonald — As the House lurches towards the end of the spring sitting, there’s a sense that while there’s a lot going on in Ottawa, not much is getting done. It’s the mid-term muddle which hits most majority governments halfway through their first mandates, where the Trudeau Liberals are now. From parliamentary reform to climate change, from […]

What does Scheer need most to succeed as CPC leader? Patience.

May 30 2017 — L. Ian MacDonald — It would be highly unusual for Canadians to kick out a majority government after only one term in office. The one exception in the 20th century was the Conservative government of R.B. Bennett in 1935 — and Bennett had the singular misfortune of governing during the Great Depression. More frequently, voters have put first-term majorities […]

The quickest way to Trump’s brain? Through his family.

May 9 2017 — L. Ian MacDonald — It was during the transition between the U.S. election and Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration that Justin Trudeau’s two top advisers — chief of staff Katie Telford and principal secretary Gerry Butts — struck up a relationship with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner during several meetings in Washington and New York. By the time they were preparing […]

The trouble with Maxime Bernier

May 2 2017 — L. Ian MacDonald — With just over three weeks remaining in the Conservative leadership race, it essentially has become a two-way race between Maxime Bernier and Andrew Scheer. The search for a viable third candidate has pretty much come down to Erin O’Toole — but there’s no sign the rest of the 13-candidate field is prepared to unite behind […]

Trudeau’s marijuana plans may be deep in the weeds

Apr 18 2017 — L. Ian MacDonald — All things considered, it would have been much easier for the Trudeau government to simply decriminalize marijuana. Easier, at least, than legalizing the stuff, as proposed in the legislation presented to the House last week. The very timing of the legislation — surfacing on the last day of a sitting before a two-week spring break […]

Trudeau and Freeland are sending Russia the right signals

Apr 11 2017 — L. Ian MacDonald — Bashar al-Assad finally overplayed his hand with the international community last week in unleashing an unspeakable chemical attack that killed 87 Syrian civilians, including many children and infants. The horrific images of this event have sparked a consensus among western leaders that Assad must finally “be held to account” — in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s […]

The CPC race is slapstick. The NDP race is politics for adults.

Mar 31 2017 — L. Ian MacDonald — The NDP leadership race has two big things going for it — compared to the Conservative race, and compared to recent decisions by the Liberals alienating voters on the progressive left. The contrasts can help the New Democrats rebuild their brand to the 20 per cent polling threshold they need to consider themselves back in […]

Budget 2017: Morneau rags the puck

Mar 22 2017 — L. Ian MacDonald — Sometimes you really can tell a book by its cover. Bill Morneau’s first budget in 2016 featured a cover image of a mother and daughter holding hands as they walked down a yellow brick road on their way to prosperity. The title of the book was “Growing the Middle Class”. The message was clean and […]

A day to remember in the House

Mar 15 2017 — L. Ian MacDonald — Write down the date — March 8, 2017. It will be remembered in the annals of the House of Commons as one of the most progressive and productive days in the modern era of Canadian politics. First came the Daughters of the Vote, 338 young women aged 18-23 occupying the seats of MPs from their […]

How Bill Morneau’s building a budget around Donald Trump

Mar 8 2017 — L. Ian MacDonald — Bill Morneau got the information he needed in Washington last week to move ahead with a budget that won’t put Canada at any competitive disadvantage with the United States. Much of what the finance minister needed to know was in Donald Trump’s address to Congress last Tuesday, on infrastructure spending, corporate and personal tax reform, […]

Debates are for politicians. O’Leary is a celebrity.

Feb 28 2017 — L. Ian MacDonald — It’s indicative of how social media platforms have become game-changers in politics that Facebook and Twitter were lead sponsors of last weekend’s annual Manning Centre conference in Ottawa. In fact, both platforms were represented on the program. Facebook Canada’s head of policy Kevin Chan spoke about how much they’ve enjoyed working with the office of […]

The Manning Conference takes a hard slide to the right

Feb 24 2017 — L. Ian MacDonald — Preston Manning has spent most of his post-political life establishing himself as a thought leader on the right. During the decade of Conservative rule in Ottawa, the annual winter Manning Centre Conference in the capital was both an intellectual check on the Harper government and an important source of new ideas. This weekend’s Manning Conference […]