National Newswatch

The stubborn state of federalism in Canada

Dec 10 2019 — Paul Wells — For a glimpse into how regional conflict might dominate our politics in 2020, watch the body language—and the response from Justin Trudeau’s office—when a provincial premier comes to Ottawa these days. Three weeks after the October federal election, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe was in Ottawa for his first face-to-face post-election meeting with Prime Minister Justin […]

The Throne Speech: More will be done

Dec 5 2019 — Paul Wells — Well, they’re back. It’s hard to fault a government for doing what it said it would. “Expect some 2,000 or so words, with deliberately vague language,” Toronto Star columnist Susan Delacourt wrote at the beginning of the week. So I did. And I was not disappointed.

Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives’ choices

Nov 28 2019 — Paul Wells — On Friday Andrew Scheer will address the United Conservative Party convention in Calgary, and the reception he gets should give us all a better sense of his chances of hanging on to the Conservative leadership. So far we’ve mostly heard from Toronto-area Conservatives who backed other candidates against Scheer for the leadership, and colleagues of […]

At the global security gathering in Halifax: Up the down escalator

Nov 25 2019 — Paul Wells — You get used to feeling existential dread at the Halifax International Security Forum, which after all exists to give an international who’s who of soldiers, defence and foreign ministers, academics and think tankers a spot to ponder the world’s gravest dangers. This year’s edition, the 11th since the annual meeting kicked off in 2009, heard […]

Trudeau 2.0: Je ne regrette rien

Nov 20 2019 — Paul Wells — Today we have naming of parts. If you have a minister of middle-class prosperity and a minister of economic development and an entirely separate minister of rural economic development and a minister of workforce development—remember when the workforce was part of the economy? Ok, boomer—and a minister of small business and a minister of finance […]

The battle against Quebec’s Bill 21

Nov 8 2019 — Paul Wells — Sure, the leaders of Canada’s federal political parties didn’t have much to say during the election campaign when reporters asked what they planned to do about Quebec’s Bill 21. The law, which prohibits public servants in the province from wearing religious headgear and other symbols, is so popular politicians are reluctant to challenge it directly.

Trudeau: Re-election means never having to say you’re sorry

Nov 5 2019 — Paul Wells — I’ve got a hunch that when the federal Liberal caucus meets Wednesday in Ottawa, observers will be surprised, even taken aback, by the jovial tone among Liberals. And an emerging theme of federal politics in months to come will be the scale of Justin Trudeau’s electoral triumph. Now there’s a word you don’t hear often. […]

The Green Party after Elizabeth May

Nov 4 2019 — Paul Wells — Under the right leadership, the party might have accomplished so much more in the last election. It has a chance to right itself, if it’s not already too late. I have spent nearly a decade calling, very occasionally, for Elizabeth May to stop leading the Green Party. She has never shown any sign of holding […]

Advice to Conservatives: Think twice

Oct 25 2019 — Paul Wells — What’s to be done about Andrew Scheer? He’s the most Western-entrenched Conservative leader since—well, since Rona Ambrose, Stephen Harper, Stockwell Day, Preston Manning, Joe Clark and John Diefenbaker. He’s reduced the Conservatives to pariah status in the country’s big eastern cities, terrifying windswept concrete valleys of Laurentianism where gay people are prone to marry or […]

Justin Trudeau says better is always possible. It’s time to do better.

Oct 22 2019 — Paul Wells — It was the kind of campaign that has people quoting Gramsci. “This is like that quote from Gramsci,” a wise friend said to me over lunch. This actually happened. I nodded, sweating a bit. Think, Wells, think. Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Communist writer and politician. Mussolini’s Fascists threw him into a Roman prison. He wrote […]

The noise and the stakes

Oct 15 2019 — Paul Wells — Much of what’s happened in this miserable campaign has been healthy. If the seat projections from our friend Philippe J. Fournier are accurate, the two largest parties have both lost support since the campaign began. And the worst part of the campaign was the nine days that began with the TVA French debate on Oct. […]

Le French debate: saving the best for last

Oct 11 2019 — Paul Wells — Forgive me for talking shop at first. Thursday’s commission-certified French-language debate was the best-run of the four-ish debates this campaign has seen, and I suspect you’ll read the same conclusion from just about everyone who writes about it. There are reasons for this. Everyone is praising Patrice Roy, a Radio-Canada anchor and veteran broadcast professional […]

Well, that was helpful

Oct 8 2019 — Paul Wells — “We’re definitely going to have a lively debate tonight,” CTV National News chief anchor Lisa LaFlamme said a few minutes into Monday’s properly certified commission-designed English-language national leaders’ debate. Several minutes later, Toronto Star Ottawa bureau chief Susan Delacourt promised lots of further debate on the issue at hand, which was the economy. Or Indigenous […]

The missing ingredient in this federal election

Oct 2 2019 — Paul Wells — Surely they’re having us on. At some point, don’t the leaders of the major federal parties have to show up together in one place, announce they’ve been playing an elaborate practical joke on us and cancel the election? “We’ll have the real election after New Year’s,” Justin Trudeau will tell the Canadian people. “We sure […]

Justin Trudeau’s face

Sep 19 2019 — Paul Wells — You’ll be relieved to know Justin Trudeau will be talking to his children about all this. The Prime Minister will, he told reporters at the back of the Liberal tour plane in Halifax, be telling his children that when you make a mistake you need to own up to it. I don’t know whether he’ll […]