National Newswatch

Some promises deserve to be broken

Jun 24 2018 — Robin V. Sears — Though they are more often smacked as pusillanimous deceivers, politicians can be pigheaded. As a result, many — more often on the right, curiously — like to brag “promise made, promise kept!” Some promises, however, deserve to be broken. Bob Rae soon abandoned public auto insurance when he was Ontario’s premier in the 1990s. Despite […]

Party leaders should never outstay their welcome

Jun 3 2018 — Robin V. Sears — A week from now we may have one party leader left standing, Premier-elect Andrea Horwath. Kathleen Wynne will almost certainly follow convention and resign on election night. Doug Ford may try to defy convention and struggle to hang on. Like Trump he may believe that the Ford Nation Party will be able defend him against […]

Messy campaign proves need for political reforms

May 27 2018 — Robin V. Sears — Well that didn’t take long! We usually wait a full election cycle before importing the best — and sometimes the worst — of American political craft into Canadian politics. Where cybercrime is concerned it appears to have taken less than a year. Donald Trump’s use of fraudulently obtained voter IDs, to the theft of data […]

Will facts matter in the campaign of 2018?

May 20 2018 — Robin V. Sears — In his passionate defence of a politics of values over tribes, Bob Rae said the most important was an acceptance of the importance of facts. He was being honoured last week by hundreds of Canada’s finest political leaders of all three parties for his contribution to public life. “Facts matter,” he concluded, “Our politics needs […]

What TV debate reveal about a candidate

Apr 22 2018 — Robin V. Sears — One of the deep regrets of Abraham Lincoln junkies is that his famous debates with Stephen Douglas, 160 years ago this summer, pre-date the invention of audio recording. Lincoln’s book length excerpts of the nine debates were so powerful they are credited with helping him win his presidential nomination.

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 […]