National Newswatch

Maybe stop calling it Team Trudeau

May 3 2019 — Paul Wells — That’s a pretty devastating Angus Reid Institute poll that came out on Friday. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals 13 points behind Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives. Liberals in third place in every province west of Ontario, and across Atlantic Canada. (The perception in Alberta is that Trudeau is designing his energy policy to shore up support in British Columbia. […]

Trudeau and Kenney: Well, this was coming

Apr 24 2019 — Paul Wells — Over-dramatizing is an occupational hazard in my line of work, and you’re right, I’m not immune. A lot of the coverage about Jason Kenney’s election, and the situation it puts Justin Trudeau in, might suggest it’s some kind of unprecedented thing. No, it is amply precedented. Precedented in many ways. At the most general level, […]

In the abandoned ruins of Ottawa

Apr 5 2019 — Paul Wells — Jody Wilson-Raybould’s and Jane Philpott’s place in or out of the Liberal caucus matters less than most of the two-month SNC-Lavalin drama. A parliamentary caucus is not a rules organization, it’s a trust organization. Liberals no longer trusted the two former ministers, in part because clearly neither trusts the Prime Minister. So out they went. […]

On the elimination of inconvenient Liberals

Mar 27 2019 — Paul Wells — We have learned so much. Within minutes Monday afternoon, two good reporters had stories (here and here) about the Chief Justice of Manitoba, who was a candidate to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and who, later, wasn’t. Both reporters unfurled similar yarns about a lone Prime Minister standing athwart the tide […]

Jane Philpott: ‘There’s much more to the story that needs to be told’

Mar 21 2019 — Paul Wells — In an exclusive interview with Paul Wells, the former Treasury Board president says: ‘we actually owe it to Canadians as politicians to ensure that they have the truth.’ Jane Philpott was deeply ambivalent about talking earlier this week when she welcomed a Maclean’s reporter to her MP’s office in the Confederation Building across the street […]

Trudeau/Morneau’s book of surprises

Mar 19 2019 — Paul Wells — Here and there you still find glimpses of an activist and imaginative government. I’ll get to the big numbers, but I was struck, and encouraged, by a smaller one. On page 156 of Bill Morneau’s 460-page 2019 federal budget there’s $30.5 million over five years for expanded access to safe prescription opioids, “protecting people with […]

The Butts testimony: Have I mentioned the 9,000 jobs?

Mar 6 2019 — Paul Wells — I see no reason to disbelieve any part of Gerald Butts’s testimony at the justice committee this morning. And it’s worth noting that he was at pains not to cast aspersions on Jody Wilson-Raybould, Jane Philpott or any other character in this drama. The Prime Minister’s former principal secretary offered real insight into the workings […]

The Philpott earthquake

Mar 4 2019 — Paul Wells — With Jane Philpott’s resignation from the cabinet, Justin Trudeau’s government is now in a crisis that ranks with the coalition challenge to Stephen Harper in 2008 and Jean Chrétien’s dismissal of Paul Martin in 2002. That probably understates matters, actually: Those two previous shocks were about ambition; they engaged matters of principle almost by accident. […]

Justin Trudeau, imposter

Mar 4 2019 — Paul Wells — The story a few Liberals were telling privately, in the early hours after Jody Wilson-Raybould delivered her extraordinary testimony to the Commons justice committee about the endless procession of men who tried to make her cancel a criminal trial for SNC-Lavalin, was that she just didn’t get it. The former attorney general is a nice […]

The moral catastrophe of Justin Trudeau

Feb 27 2019 — Paul Wells — What Jody Wilson-Raybould described today is a sickeningly smug protection racket and it should make us all question what we’re willing to tolerate. The dangerous files are never the obscure ones. Scandals don’t happen in the weird little corners of government, in amateur sport or in crop science. They happen on the issues a prime […]

Gerald Butts: If thy right hand offend thee, pluck it out

Feb 18 2019 — Paul Wells — At any other time it’d be interesting to entertain a few notions of comparative PMO staffing. Brian Mulroney and Stephen Harper shook up their senior staff regularly: Mulroney’s principal secretaries included Peter White, Tom Trbovich, Michel Roy and Hugh Segal; Harper made more frequent changes to his chiefs of staff but when Ray Novak moved […]

Justin Trudeau’s credibility gap on SNC-Lavalin

Feb 15 2019 — Paul Wells — A new poll shows that among Canadians who are following the controversy, nearly three quarters think Wilson-Raybould has the most credibility. A large majority of people following the controversy over Justin Trudeau, Jody Wilson-Raybould and SNC-Lavalin say the former justice minister has the most credibility, a new online poll says.

Canada, the show

Feb 12 2019 — Paul Wells — You thought this government was about family benefits and boil-water advisories? The Lavalin affair offers a glimpse of the real scene—maybe the real Canada. It all seemed so unpromising as a narrative when the Globe and Mail broke the story five days ago. Attorney general resists pressure (“from whom?” an editor’s red grease pencil should […]

Farewell to John McCallum, 2017’s man in Beijing

Jan 26 2019 — Paul Wells — So, funny thing. On Jan. 9 I spotted John McCallum’s distinctive mug in a photo posted on an Ottawa-based social media account. There being a lot happening on the China front, I sent him an email: “You in town? Wanna have coffee?” He replied the next morning. “You’re right. I’m in town for a bit […]