National Newswatch

Justin Trudeau at the halfway point, or the precipice

Oct 19 2017 — Paul Wells — Thursday marks the second anniversary of the Liberals’ 2015 election victory under Justin Trudeau. The first time in Canada a third-place party had ever stormed past an incumbent government and official opposition to take power. Over the preceding decade they had lost four-fifths of the seats they once held, but now they were back. As […]

Justin Trudeau’s money pit, and those working hard to join it

Oct 14 2017 — Paul Wells — Come on, be fair now: Who among us hasn’t forgotten a villa in France, and the tax-dodging shell company we set up in our own name to manage it? Bill Morneau’s a square gee, a straight shooter, and if two years of talking about the middle class! and those working! hard! to join it! didn’t […]

Throw another minister on the bonfire: the ballad of Bill Morneau

Oct 10 2017 — Paul Wells — In retrospect, it will be seen as fitting that finance minister Bill Morneau started working on the second draft of his planned overhaul of corporate taxation during the 2017 Thanksgiving weekend. First, because Thanksgiving is often used for cutting up turkeys. And it’s becoming clear that Morneau’s project, a bigger political gobbler than the Liberals […]

Can Justin Trudeau get big things built?

Oct 5 2017 — Paul Wells — Success has many fathers, it’s said; failure is an orphan. Unless you’re Canadian. Thursday’s announcement by TransCanada that it’s abandoning the Energy East pipeline project inspired a nationwide orgy of paternity tests, mostly administered by politicians against their enemies. Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall said that “for the West to continue on like this in our […]

Jagmeet Singh and the newest new NDP

Oct 1 2017 — Paul Wells — Suspense is overrated anyway. Jagmeet Singh’s first-ballot thumping of his opponents in the NDP leadership contest makes big history: in the 150th anniversary year of Confederation, a major political party has finally broken the country’s uninterrupted string of white faces at the head of national parties. The scale of Singh’s victory makes him, at least […]

The problem with Trudeau’s high road

Sep 25 2017 — Paul Wells — It’s fun these days watching Pierre Poilievre go after Bill Morneau on the government’s proposed tax changes. Poilievre is the Conservative finance critic, and Morneau is the finance minister, and typically their exchanges go this way. Poilievre opens by asking why Morneau is hellbent on unleashing a plague of locusts on Canadian pizza parlour owners. […]

Andrew Scheer learns his job’s no fun

Sep 21 2017 — Paul Wells — There comes a time in every new opposition leader’s career when he discovers it’s a horrible job. This usually happens early. The reasons why it seems like it shouldn’t be a horrible job are: (a) All you have to do is make fun of the government; (b) Being an opposition leader, and therefore hating the […]

Her majesty’s astronaut

Jul 13 2017 — Paul Wells — Picking a governor general is a challenge for any prime minister. (Yes, yes, it’s the Queen’s choice, but to say the least, she takes advice well.) Which is an odd thing to say, because the governor general’s formal role in the legislative process is pretty limited. The privy council offers up bills from Parliament for […]

In the Khadr settlement, the Conservatives find their fight

Jul 10 2017 — Paul Wells — Justin Trudeau’s Liberals had already decided to treat the new Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer, a little differently from the way a previous Conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper, had treated a string of Liberal leaders. The Harper Conservatives had released ads to “define” Stéphane Dion, Michael Ignatieff and Trudeau within weeks after each man became leader. […]

Prime Minister Ella-Grace Trudeau?

Jun 5 2017 — Paul Wells — Who’s up for a third-generation Trudeau prime minister? Anyone? Bueller? Always one to think ahead, the current Prime Minister Trudeau, Justin, was on the TV this morning from Niagara Falls, where two visiting American daytime TV hosts, Kelly and Ryan—or as I still call them, Regis and Kathy Lee—asked him which of his three children […]

Inside Andrew Scheer’s unlikely triumph

May 31 2017 — Paul Wells — It’s an eternal truth of politics that every victory is only the start of a new fight. “There is renewed hope for Canada, starting today,” Andrew Scheer told thousands of Conservatives on Saturday at a rental hall near Toronto’s Pearson Airport. “I’m here to tell you that the pain and hardship the Trudeau Liberals are […]

Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party’s future

May 27 2017 — Paul Wells — These things used to happen on the floor of delegated conventions: a party’s accredited delegates would seem to be heading in one direction, only to stop, stare one another in the eye, and pivot. The Progressive Conservatives in 1976, putting the old-school populist Claude Wagner on top of three ballots only to crown an unsteady […]

What happens next in B.C.

May 25 2017 — Paul Wells — So the recounts are over in the super-tight British Columbia provincial election, with no changes to the seat count: 43 Liberals, 41 NDP, 3 Green. It’s obvious that (Greens + anybody else) = viable majority in the 87-seat legislature. So now what? Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, no fool, is speaking to both parties, trying […]

Stephen Greene and the case of the strange new Senate

May 17 2017 — Paul Wells — The long process of Stephen Greene’s ejection from the Senate Conservative caucus began last Nov. 15, when he rose in the Red Chamber as sponsor of a government bill. This was odd. Greene was not affiliated with the government. “I stand before you as a senator who is not part of the government,” he said. […]