National Newswatch

Universal childcare at last, or will we be duped again?

Sep 27 2020 — Robin V. Sears — One of the hoariest political cliches is that timing is everything. But beyond the timing of an election, or a cabinet shuffle and other purely strategic calculations, there is another arena where it is equally true: new program launches. To the eternal frustration of social democrats, who are often the first to campaign for progressive […]

Ottawa must act to free our hostages in China

Jun 28 2020 — Robin V. Sears — In the more than 370 years since the nation state established its sole governing authority over the people who live within its borders, there has always been one unbreachable quid pro quo. It is a government’s absolute obligation to protect and to ensure the safety of its citizens. When a Canadian citizen is being illegally […]

What we’ve learned so far from the pandemic

Jun 21 2020 — Robin V. Sears — For many of us across Canada, this past week was the first time that we could share a beer and a burger with friends on a patio. There was a small childlike giddiness to the occasions. It feels like we can see the end of the tunnel now, even if it is still a long […]

Pandemic fatigue sets in, to our collective detriment

Jun 14 2020 — Robin V. Sears — As social scientist Daniel Kahneman demonstrated so powerfully in his “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” we all fear loss far more than we lust for gain, always prefer to slide back into comfortable routines after forced change, and predictably will quickly become fatigued with changes we find irritating or constraining.

Police chiefs face an uphill battle

Jun 7 2020 — Robin V. Sears — The tragic events, first in Minneapolis, and then across the entire United States over the past two weeks, have again turned the media and political spotlight on policing. The struggle to end police violence, unequal treatment, and the feeble legal response to bad police behaviour. Will this be the moment that will be different? Perhaps, […]

Trudeau has a China problem

May 31 2020 — Robin V. Sears — The prime minister faces a second crisis beyond the pandemic: China. Too many pundits among our China haters demand that he ban Chinese students, impose tariffs on Chinese imports and ever more foolish notions. There are two things he should do, however. First, it’s essential when dealing with authoritarian governments to analyze carefully what really […]

Power will flow to a post-pandemic Ottawa

May 24 2020 — Robin V. Sears — First, it must be said the Canadian federation performed far better in crisis management than many other federal states — especially our neighbours to the south. This in spite of the prior sullen adolescent behaviour of some of the major players in the perennial soap opera called Canadian federal-provincial relations. Second, some unlikely leaders rose […]

Pandemic proves value of guaranteed incomes

May 10 2020 — Robin V. Sears — Most major crises deliver changes that forever transform society. After the Second World War it was the build out of the social safety net, a process that continued for another 30 years in most of the developed economies. Out of the pioneering work of the Atlee government in creating the National Health Service — based […]

What is the value of ‘essential’?

May 3 2020 — Robin V. Sears — What community, with any pretence of fairness or equity, deems it acceptable to pay its essential workers less than two per cent of the compensation of a senior corporate litigator? Lawyers are useful, often important to have access to, but essential? Rarely. Private nursing home aides and orderlies are the definition of essential. Always. Many […]

Public health vs. personal privacy

Apr 26 2020 — Robin V. Sears — There are few certainties about the pandemic legacy, despite claims that we will be changed forever. We are all by nature recidivists about behaviours and roles we are comfortable in. Will we be kinder to each other, reward politicians who lead but don’t preen, pay greater respect and salaries to heroic front line workers — […]

We need plain speaking on public health

Apr 19 2020 — Robin V. Sears — Public health professionals complain they don’t get the funding, status or authority that other giants in the health-care sector do: hospitals, doctors, drug companies. They battle the “tyranny of the acute” undeniably. Heart attacks get fast high-profile treatment because life is measured in minutes. Childhood obesity and diabetes campaigns are projects of years and much […]

Prevention deserve its place as a health care priority

Apr 12 2020 — Robin V. Sears — The Japanese have a saying that goes, “We don’t learn from experience, we learn from catastrophe.” This pandemic has hopefully been sufficiently catastrophic that we will, finally, learn some lasting lessons from it. Japan has a long history of natural disaster to learn from, with earthquakes at the top of the list. Their emergency preparedness […]

Andrew Cuomo’s crisis management gold medal

Apr 5 2020 — Robin V. Sears — “I love you, little brother.” With that terse but powerful declaration, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed his status as the crisis leader in North America. Frank admission of emotional vulnerability takes guts for most men, even in private. But in public, day after day, the 62-year-old, tough, often abrasive and far from universally loved […]