National Newswatch

No one can handle Trump, so Scheer is talking through his hat

Jul 4 2019 — Peter McKenna — If the current public opinion polls are accurate, Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer could be prime minister in four months or so. Of course, one of the critical challenges for any new Canadian prime minister is how best to manage our vital relationship with the United States. That challenge is particularly acute in the age […]

Trudeau should be careful about Trump Whisperer role

Sep 3 2017 — Peter McKenna — With the NAFTA renegotiations off to a rough start, and given his calculated efforts to ingratiate himself to U.S. President Donald Trump, perhaps Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should take a page from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s book. At the beginning of their first encounter at Trump Tower in New York, Abe presented then-U.S. president-elect […]

Trudeau’s NAFTA red line

Apr 20 2017 — Peter McKenna — One of the most contentious areas of the Canada-U.S. trade negotiations in the mid-1980s was the creation of a binding dispute-resolution mechanism. Given its importance, Ottawa was determined to find a way to guard against the often politically-motivated imposition of U.S. countervailing duties, safeguard measures and anti-dumping penalties. Based on a clear set of bilateral […]

Harper will hamper Conservatives by hanging around

Jan 21 2016 — Peter McKenna — According to a December article in the National Post, defeated prime minister Stephen Harper is earning some additional praise from the Conservative Party caucus for taking his seat in the Official Opposition benches and exercising his voting privileges. Reportedly, he intends to stay on as MP for Calgary Heritage for some time. But should a […]

A tip for Trudeau — the provinces will never be placated

Jan 4 2016 — Peter McKenna — With a changing of the political guard in Ottawa, one wonders whether things have really changed in terms of intergovernmental relations in Canada. The short answer is: not really. Still, rookie federal Finance Minister, Bill Morneau was quick to say recently, with all the provincial finance ministers standing behind him, that Canada was now entering […]

Canada can’t afford to lose sight of Latin America

Dec 30 2015 — Peter McKenna — Both the recent throne speech and the cabinet mandate letters point to a broad liberal internationalist or Pearsonian middle-powerism underscoring Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy orientation. But there is a clear lack of specifics or direction. Besides an emphasis on rebuilding Canada-U.S. relations, there is very little sense of where the new Trudeau government wants to […]

Time for PM to meet with premiers

Dec 27 2014 — Peter McKenna — It is worth emphasizing that one of the unique characteristics of Canada’s federal system is something dubbed “executive federalism.” The key component of summit federalism is commonly known as the First Ministers’ conference or meeting, which brings together the prime minister, provincial premiers and territorial leaders (along with their officials). In retrospect, it’s hard to […]

Keystone kibosh just another bump in bilateral road

Nov 21 2014 — Peter McKenna — It seems fairly clear now that the $8-billion Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast is dead in the water. Indeed, not much is going to happen on that file as long as Barack Obama occupies the White House. That wasn’t always the case. Many commentators, myself included, thought that Obama would […]

Barack Obama could play a role in Quebec referendum

Mar 12 2014 — Peter McKenna — If U.S. President Barack Obama is perplexed about the prospect of a breakaway Crimea, how will he feel about an independent Quebec? And the selection of sovereignty-backing Pierre Karl Péladeau as a Parti Québécois candidate has just given the Péquistes’ independence cause a shot in the arm.

We need Brazil more than it needs us

Oct 16 2013 — Peter McKenna — Canada’s spying saga against our Brazilian friends seems to have taken on a life of its own. And it could actually get a lot worse before it gets any better. The government’s relations with Brasilia have had their fair share of ups and downs over the years. They were mostly frosty during the 1990s and […]

What makes a senator ‘resident’ in a province?

Aug 23 2013 — Peter McKenna — It’s fair comment to say that the recent spending scandal engulfing the Canadian Senate is an unacceptable outrage. But the real issue is less about possibly fraudulent spending by senators and more about the meaning of residency. According to Sec. 23 of the Canadian Constitution (on Senate qualifications), it states that senators “shall be resident […]