National Newswatch

In the Trudeau government, what’s a cabinet shuffle for?

Jan 14 2019 — Paul Wells — Like the shuffle before it, today’s won’t change anything about a government that’s chronically stage-managed by a tiny cadre of staffers. The main thing to remember about today’s cabinet shuffle is that, outside of the extraordinary tales it tells us about the career paths of its protagonists, as a matter of governance it could well […]

In Trudeauland, who makes all the decisions?

Dec 13 2018 — Paul Wells — I mean, after all, why wouldn’t Justin Trudeau’s Liberals win the 2019 election? Only twice since Confederation have governments that came to power with a majority in the House of Commons been defeated outright at the next election: Alexander Mackenzie’s in 1878 and R.B. Bennett’s in 1935. Every other first-time majority PM has been permitted […]

Rachel Notley on an economy that’s ‘being held hostage’, dealing with Trudeau and the next election

Nov 29 2018 — Paul Wells — Rachel Notley doesn’t much like to go around the country complaining that Alberta’s neighbours are treating it unfairly, but she says it helps move public opinion. Alberta’s premier visited Ottawa and Toronto this week to talk about the crisis in her province’s energy industry, with prices collapsing and pipeline projects blocked or abandoned. She said […]

A carbon tax? Just try them.

Nov 7 2018 — Paul Wells — Scott Moe had been the premier of Saskatchewan for all of a week when he ran into Jason Kenney at the Manning Networking Conference in February of this year, at a downtown Ottawa convention centre. The Manning conferences have lost some of their cachet as annual gatherings of the Canadian conservative clan. Turns out it […]

Justin Trudeau vs. the anti-carbon tax Avengers

Oct 6 2018 — Paul Wells — I’m as surprised as you are that Brian Pallister just became the most interesting man in Canadian federalism. The Progressive Conservative premier of Manitoba, impossibly tall and lanky, likes to talk like a straight shooter. But his politics are mostly cautious and moderate. In a national political landscape increasingly populated by firebrands—Doug Ford, Maxime Bernier, […]

Adventures in better government with Doug Ford

Sep 11 2018 — Paul Wells — I’m with Emmett Macfarlane, basically: Justice Edward Belobaba’s ruling invalidating Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s law to reduce the number of Toronto city councillors from 47 to 25 is based on shaky constitutional reasoning at best. But the Ontario Conservatives saying “So of course the notwithstanding clause is the logical recourse” are being reckless.

Quebec’s very, very quiet revolution

Sep 6 2018 — Paul Wells — Whoever does advance work for the Coalition Avenir Québec campaign should get a raise. On a recent Monday morning in the pretty ski town of Bromont, the party’s leader, François Legault, arrived for a news conference to describe some of his policies for helping Quebec’s families. Legault was flanked by two local female candidates. Behind […]

Maxime Bernier reaches his logical conclusion

Aug 23 2018 — Paul Wells — At least now we’re all reminded why he’s so fond of Twitter. “If we want conservative principles to win the bottle of ideas, we have to defend them openly,” Maxime Bernier told a room full of reporters, “with passion and conviction.” I checked his prepared text, which had been handed to us minutes earlier. “Battle […]

The 2019 election will be about who’s the right kind of Canadian

Aug 22 2018 — Paul Wells — It’s hard to shake the ominous feeling that Justin Trudeau’s shouted Sunday-night exchange with a woman at a corn roast in Sabrevois, Que., was the best foretaste we’ve had so far of the 2019 federal election. The exchange itself was impressively unedifying, and will be familiar to by now to anyone with a Twitter account. […]

If Justin Trudeau loses, it will be because of Andrew Scheer’s secret weapon

Aug 7 2018 — Paul Wells — “What’s Hamish Marshall’s title again?” I asked a Conservative MP over after-work beverages in Ottawa in late July. “National campaign manager.” “And when does he start campaigning?” “He’s campaigning now. A bunch of micro-campaigns—messages to target audiences on several issues to test phrasing and collect email signatures.” On the Conservative party’s website, there’s a link […]

Doug Ford and a truly weird, bitter, team-building Question Period

Jul 31 2018 — Paul Wells — I was just noticing all the civilized touches in the Ontario legislature when it stopped being civilized. There’s a countdown clock on each wall so members can see at a glance how much time remains in a given part of the day—in this instance, question period. Question period itself is the first item of business […]

Watching Doug Ford drive the bus

Jul 31 2018 — Paul Wells — I’ve lived in Ontario for 46 of my 52 years but every time I make a conscious decision to cover its provincial politics it seems as exotic as any assignment anywhere. The red sandstone legislature building at the top of Queen’s Park in Toronto is a repository of a people’s neuroses, a Fort Knox of […]