National Newswatch

Maxime Bernier and the lessons of political loyalty

Apr 19 2018 — Paul Wells — This is not a small thing that has happened to Maxime Bernier. It’s a brutal humiliation of a major figure in a national party. The man who led the federal Conservatives’ leadership voting last year for 12 consecutive ballots (using the party’s novel preferential voting system) before losing, narrowly, to Andrew Scheer on the 13th […]

Justin Trudeau and Kinder Morgan: More Mr. Nice Guy

Apr 9 2018 — Paul Wells — Jim Carr stood next to the Centennial Flame in front of Parliament’s Peace Tower and told a chilled knot of reporters and news cameras. An hour earlier Kinder Morgan had announced it was halting all non-essential spending on its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. If the company can’t find a way to proceed with the […]

Nobody should believe Canadian politicians who promise to fight climate change

Apr 6 2018 — Paul Wells — Anyone wondering why Canadians sometimes lose faith in government’s ability to get anything done should read a report that the country’s auditors general released at the end of March. The report, Perspectives on Climate Change Action in Canada, is an extraordinary piece of work. Canada’s federal auditor general, Michael Ferguson, worked with his counterparts in […]

Kathleen Wynne’s vision now meets Doug Ford’s promises later

Mar 28 2018 — Paul Wells — The question before the court is: What kind of heathen are you, you’re not going to support Kathleen Wynne’s nice budget? It’s a plan for care and opportunity. That’s the title on the cover of the 300-page budget book: A Plan For Care and Opportunity. What, you don’t like care and opportunity? You’re going to […]

Christine Elliott and the Pips

Mar 1 2018 — Paul Wells — The Ontario PC leadership race started from scandal in late January and will end, one devoutly hopes, as scheduled on March 10. Conceiving, organizing and executing a full campaign, with two debates and a complicated voting process designed to guard against, ahem, impropriety has taxed the organizing chops of a hard-working provincial party executive who […]

Justin Trudeau in the real world

Feb 22 2018 — Paul Wells — When travelling abroad, it is handy to bear in mind that the people you will meet are real people with real lives. Justin Trudeau likes to preface his answer to any question about any secession movement anywhere with, “Well, as a Quebecer…” He needs to stop saying that. When he says that, he seems to […]

The doggedness of Patrick Brown

Feb 20 2018 — Paul Wells — The thing about Patrick Brown—OK, the other thing about Patrick Brown—is that he’s dogged. A serious runner, the disgraced former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives has the obsessiveness on task that ensures success in that lonely, repetitive pursuit. In 2006, as a federal MP, Brown was given responsibilities for outreach to Indo-Canadians. Since then […]

Trudeau and resource projects: the urge to get it done

Feb 9 2018 — Paul Wells — There was Catherine McKenna, the environment minister, in a roomful of Ottawa reporters on Thursday as she unveiled and defended the Trudeau government’s new assessment rules for major projects. These are the rules by which oil pipeline projects can be assessed for their environmental impact, so of course the stakes were sky-high.

Justin Trudeau on electoral reform: Maybe consistency isn’t the word

Feb 1 2018 — Paul Wells — “My responsibility as a prime minister,” Justin Trudeau said to the CBC’s Chris Hall, “is to do things that are good for the country. I came to very clearly believe that a form of proportional representation would be harmful to Canada.” Great. When was that? After his benighted former democratic-reform minister, Maryam Monsef, held consultations […]

Patrick Brown and priorities: Why the PC Party leader couldn’t last

Jan 25 2018 — Paul Wells — I know I’m paid to game out the electoral repercussions of public events, but it is not easy to generate much enthusiasm for the task in the wake of explosive allegations of sexual assault by Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown. The province’s election, scheduled for June 7 under a fixed election-date law, will sort […]

On North Korea, it’s basically bad-cop, bad-cop

Jan 16 2018 — Paul Wells — Chrystia Freeland has become Canada’s — and on some days the world’s – minister of long shots. When she’s not preparing for a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine that’s hard to imagine, she’s preparing for a diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea that’s hard to imagine. It is hard to blame her: Better is always possible, as […]

Dispatches from the Ottawa biography wars

Jan 11 2018 — Paul Wells — Paul Wells on Andrew Scheer’s new ‘people-like-me’ (read: not Justin Trudeau) sales pitch and the things he chooses to include in life story. “I grew up in the kind of family lots of Canadians would recognize,” Andrew Scheer says in his latest Facebook get-to-know-me video.

The Battle of Bill Morneau

Jan 8 2018 — Paul Wells — Canada’s federal finance minister on his catastrophic autumn, what went wrong and how he’s fighting back. Jet Fuel Coffee on Parliament Street in Toronto is a shotgun shack, long and narrow, with almost all the action concentrated at the bar just inside the front door. Farther back there’s a second room where patrons who aren’t […]

Friends! Welcome to Justin Trudeau’s ethical island

Dec 20 2017 — Paul Wells — The ethics commissioner’s report into Justin Trudeau’s family vacation on the private island of a rich spiritual leader is the sort of thing that will discourage good people from entering into politics. Who will ever want to run for high office again, knowing the time-honoured option of an occasional tropical getaway to the sprawling demesne […]

How Canada fits into Rex Tillerson’s plan for North Korea

Dec 19 2017 — Paul Wells — This is all a little weird. The Korean War was mostly a big headache for Louis St. Laurent. The courtly Quebec lawyer had been Canada’s prime minister for just over seven months when North Korean forces invaded the South, on what was, in Ottawa time, a Sunday in June, 1950. St. Laurent liked to think […]