National Newswatch

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 […]

Bonjour! Hi! Let us discuss language politics

Dec 8 2017 — Paul Wells — When I interviewed for an internship at the Montreal Gazette in 1989, the papers were full of news about demonstrations and counter-demonstrations over Quebec’s language laws. The province’s premier, the softspoken and deeply tactical Robert Bourassa, had brought in legislation to re-assert some elements of Bill 101 that had been struck down by the Supreme […]

Trudeau tries to thread the China needle

Dec 5 2017 — Paul Wells — You’d be ambivalent too, if you were heading into free-trade talks with China with the mandate Canadians have given Justin Trudeau. A month before the prime minister took off to Beijing for the latest in his now-patented what-the-hell-is-going-on series of trade negotiations (cf. the Brussels Walkout, the TPP Two-Step), Global Affairs Canada released the results […]

Quebec without equalization?

Nov 23 2017 — Paul Wells — One of my superstitions is that when you watch a televised leaders’ debate, if there’s one leader everyone else is facing with an angry expression, that’s who’ll win the election. One leader sets the agenda, the others react. It actually doesn’t matter much who’s right on the facts: what matters is who’s making everyone dance.

Garnett Genuis: The 2017 Parliamentarian of the Year

Nov 7 2017 — Paul Wells — Garnett Genuis is no ordinary Parliamentarian of the Year. Of the 10 recipients of the prize since its inception, he is, by more than a decade, the youngest. He has the least parliamentary experience—like nearly 200 other MPs, he was elected for the first time in the bumper rookie crop of 2015. He has the […]

Stephen Harper’s NAFTA memo shows how little the former PM has changed

Oct 31 2017 — Paul Wells — For a guy whose staff says he has foresworn any comment on his successor, Stephen Harper is turning into a bit of a chatty Kathy. First, during the heady days in July when it seemed Conservatives would campaign relentlessly against Justin Trudeau’s out-of-court settlement with Omar Khadr, Harper wrote on his Facebook page that the […]

Welcome to your post-process years, Justin Trudeau

Oct 25 2017 — Paul Wells — Colleague John Geddes had an insight about yesterday’s economic statement from Finance Minister Bill Morneau that deserves more attention and some amplification: Last fall’s version of the annual update [Geddes writes] was all about long-term plans for ensuring Canada’s prosperity decades from now in a fiercely competitive world; this year’s is all about converting today’s […]

Why Quebec’s Bill 62 is an indefensible mess

Oct 24 2017 — Paul Wells — Before we begin: Look, I’m one of the good anglos, the ones who’ve lived in Quebec (largely in French) (and enjoyed it), understand at least some of its distinct ways and can recite at least some of the catechism by heart. In this July column I walked readers through the Quiet Revolution and its revolt […]

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 […]