National Newswatch

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. […]

All in the Family

Jul 12 2020 — L. Ian MacDonald — The WE story isn’t about us, it’s about them, the Trudeau family. As in All in the Family. At its heart, it’s not even about a government student job program of nearly $1 billion awarded without tender to WE Charity, including a $20 million management fee. That’s the story of most sole sourced spending. It’s […]

A Fiscal Snapshot for Unprecedented Times

Jul 8 2020 — L. Ian MacDonald — Government programs and events are famously known by space-saving acronyms such as CERB for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit payments to more than 8 million Canadians, or CEBA for Canadian Emergency Business Account loans to small businesses. Or, more permanently, EI for employment insurance. There’s no abbreviation for a fiscal update — certainly not FU, […]

Brian Mulroney’s Big Ideas

Jul 3 2020 — L. Ian MacDonald — Brian Mulroney was sitting out the pandemic lockdown with his wife Mila at their winter home in Palm Beach a few weeks ago, when he began receiving notes from Phillip Crawley, publisher and CEO of the Globe and Mail. Crawley explained that the paper was launching a series of opinion pieces called the Zero Canada Project […]

MacKay Steps Ahead

Jun 18 2020 — L. Ian MacDonald — Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial justice outcry produced by the murder of George Floyd, the Conservative leadership race has been all but knocked out of the news cycle. Which may be the best thing that could have happened to the Tories, in the sense that they’ve run the worst leadership campaign of any […]

Saving Canada’s Seniors

May 29 2020 — L. Ian MacDonald — It is no longer very surprising to read about living conditions in long-term care residences for seniors, but that doesn’t make it any less shocking or scandalous. The element of surprise was essentially removed by the publication on Easter Weekend of Aaron Derfel’s explosive Montreal Gazette story of a private seniors’ home in Dorval, where residents were […]

Canada: Cottage Country, or Not?

May 17 2020 — L. Ian MacDonald — Ah, the Victoria holiday weekend. Time to go to the cottage and open up for the season. Or not. Normally, in our case, we would be at “the Lake” this weekend, observing two cherished rituals of spring–putting the Muskoka chair out on the dock, and the flag up at the end of it. For 30 […]