National Newswatch

A Budget to Break the COVID Catch-22

Apr 19 2021 — L. Ian MacDonald — It was only three words, but as a former journalist, Chrystia Freeland would have known that describing the COVID-19 pandemic as “a window of opportunity” for her budget last week could be easily misconstrued. More on point, the finance minister has been saying Budget 2021 would be “among the most significant of our lifetime.” Turns […]

Getting the Vaccination, Just like That

Mar 11 2021 — L. Ian MacDonald — It came Monday morning in an envelope from the Quebec government, which I threw on the coffee table and ignored for most of the day, thinking it had to be about taxes at this time of year. When I finally looked at it, it turned out to be from the Health Department, in English as […]

From Impeachment to a Time for Healing

Jan 13 2021 — L. Ian MacDonald — With his impeachment by the US House of Representatives on Wednesday, Donald Trump became what’s known in the news business as a “standing head.” And a bold faced, all-caps banner headline at that, on the front of the New York Times, America’s daily journal of record. Such a standing head has never been published before […]

The New Canada-US Dynamic: Building Back Better Together

Dec 2 2020 — L. Ian MacDonald — As the late, American-born Canadian Conservative politician Robert Thompson once said, “The Americans are our best friends, whether we like it or not.” It might also be said that we’re their best friends, whether they know it or not. To the extent that Canada-US relations are on the agenda of any president, Joe Biden is […]

Biden’s Decency Wins the White House

Nov 8 2020 — L. Ian MacDonald — Joe Biden finally found his voice with a week left in the presidential campaign. And he owed it to Donald Trump, for his unspeakable attack on the character and competence of Dr. Tony Fauci, the most beloved figure in pandemic America. Responding to Fauci’s interview with the CBS program 60 Minutes, Trump called him “a […]

John Turner’s Bequest to the Nation

Oct 9 2020 — L. Ian MacDonald — Watching John Turner’s funeral service the other day, there was a striking Canadian quality to it. In a sense, it was his bequest to the nation. It was also impossible not to compare it, for dignity and decency, with the chaotic presidential campaign in the United States, where those qualities are conspicuously missing in action. […]

A Throne Speech, and Furthermore

Sep 24 2020 — L. Ian MacDonald — A Speech from the Throne and a Prime Minister’s Address to the Nation are two completely different animals of the rhetorical species. An SFT sets a government’s political agenda for a coming session of Parliament. But it is not a partisan event, rather it is state occasion in the sense that all actors on the […]

A Fond Farewell: Brian Mulroney on John Turner

Sep 20 2020 — L. Ian MacDonald — As the country looks back on the career and legacy of John Napier Turner, who passed away Saturday at 91, it’s impossible not to consider the fact that the most important bilateral dynamic of his life that didn’t involve a family member may have been his political dance with Brian Mulroney. Over the years from […]

Virtual Conventions, a Review

Aug 28 2020 — L. Ian MacDonald — One of the unforeseen outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a new kind of event, the virtual political convention. As we’ve seen in the last two weeks of August, with the Democratic and Republican conventions in the United States and the Conservative leadership convention in Canada, these are not your grandfather’s conventions. The essence […]

Bill Morneau’s Indelicate Exit

Aug 18 2020 — L. Ian MacDonald — It was clear there was something seriously amiss between Justin Trudeau and Bill Morneau last week when the Prime Minister’s Office took the extraordinary step of putting out a statement that the PM had full confidence in the finance minister. This followed a Globe and Mail report that Trudeau was uncertain, according to PMO insiders, […]

From Duty to Entitlement—To the Manner Born

Jul 26 2020 — L. Ian MacDonald — In the 1988 election, the landmark one-issue campaign on free trade, the Conservative leader’s tour stopped in New Brunswick one day for a television interview. “Harrison McCain is against this deal,” the local news anchor told the prime minister. “Yeah, well, Jim Irving is in favour of it,” replied Brian Mulroney, father of the Canada-U.S. […]