National Newswatch

Headlines that haunt campaign managers

Apr 1 2018 — Robin V. Sears — Every political hack is working hard to build momentum — but not too much — as a campaign launches. A certain momentum killer for the front-runner is the headline: “Majority Sweep Coming!” This is every seasoned campaign manager’s nightmare. First, it sets expectations too high. Second, it kills volunteers’ hunger and drive: “Hey, I guess […]

Taking the pledge to protect private data

Mar 25 2018 — Robin V. Sears — A century ago, Canadian campaigns were a cesspool: bribery, violence, corrupt politicians using corrupt journalists to sell lies about each other, ballot stuffing, cash for votes and lots of free booze. Decades of reformers’ struggle weaned our politics of most of the dirty deeds. Now a few digital tycoons are threatening to drag us back […]

Referendum on Doug Ford may lead to a Conservative victory

Mar 12 2018 — Robin V. Sears — It is a cliché of politics that as a governing party, you never want an election to become a referendum on you and your performance. Until Saturday night, that was the nightmare that this election was becoming for the Kathleen Wynne government. It would face a new moderate conservative face on the right attacking on […]

Serious journalism is vital to health democracy and requires support

Mar 11 2018 — Robin V. Sears — Isn’t it curious that the same politicians who spend more than $1.5 billion on public broadcasting in Canada, and grant nearly a $1 billion to private program producers and broadcasters, and tens of millions more to magazines, are the same ones who sneer at the idea of supporting serious print journalism? They flippantly dismiss “failing […]

To the new activists, fairness matters more than inequality

Mar 4 2018 — Robin V. Sears — The recent headline budget items of several Canadian governments acknowledge expectations about fairness and inequality are rising. Right- wing populism, at least in North America, appears to have peaked. These expectations are driven in part by those post-millennials who have championed the fight against inequality, first in the hapless efforts of Occupy; then challenging the […]

There are no new mistakes in politics

Feb 25 2018 — Robin V. Sears — At no time is a political party at greater risk than during a bitter leadership battle. With coalitions of thinly veiled differences that run across clan and ideological divides, a party’s institutional fabric can be fatally ripped in a bloody leadership campaign. That is the thoroughly irresponsible risk to which Patrick Brown is subjecting his […]

The perpetual perils of pipeline politics in Canada

Feb 18 2018 — Robin V. Sears — It is amusing to hear warriors in the endless battles over pipeline approval jump up and down and shout about “the law,” “the environment,” “regulatory approval” or even “the Constitution.” Even veterans, who know better on both sides, often refuse to publicly concede the reality of how a project moves from pipe dream to production.

Political vetting: How well do we really know this guy?

Feb 11 2018 — Robin V. Sears — Political candidate vetting was never a very rigorous process in days gone by. If you had a union leader, heart surgeon or hockey star as a good prospect, you really did not want to know that he had a fraud conviction, or an “incident” with an employee years ago. Typed paper records, mouldering in dusty […]

How Singh can teach a lesson on tolerance

Jan 28 2018 — Robin V. Sears — Next year, Canada may face a test of our national foundations, that is our commitment to social inclusion and tolerance. Will this fragile consensus survive the bloodletting of a national election when one of the leadership choices is an ambitious Sikh man, in a time when some partisans would stir the embers of racism?

A possible new conservatism

Jan 21 2018 — Robin V. Sears — More than two Canadians out of three consistently identify themselves with progressive policy views: increasingly socially, culturally, and racially tolerant; supportive of higher public spending on health, education and housing; more recently, concerned about widening inequality and a worsening environment.

Trump and a new twist on history

Jan 7 2018 — Robin V. Sears — Reading Cicero’s rhetoric, eviscerating opponents in the Roman Senate, makes in contemporary politics exclaim every few paragraphs: “That’s Churchill’s ‘Some chicken speech!’ two millennia before it happened!” Or “That’s Obama at the Denver Convention!?!”

Canada is playing the long game with China

Dec 10 2017 — Robin V. Sears — Journalism like politics depends on short memories. But many journos appear to be counting on their readers’ suffering instant memory erasure in their critique of the Trudeau China strategy. Last month they were flailing him for preparing to “sell out Canada to the Red Chinese.” This month they are attacking Trudeau for failing to make […]