National Newswatch

How to win an election: organize, organize, organize

Nov 19 2017 — Robin V. Sears — Saul Alinsky is unknown to probably 99 Americans out of 100. But he remains a revered guru to thousands of progressive activists around the world today, despite his passing more than 45 years ago. Alinsky, a white middle class guy from Chicago, saw the raging discrimination and searing poverty in the city’s Black ghetto and […]

Jason Kenney an improbable choice

Nov 4 2017 — Robin V. Sears — First, let us acknowledge what a considerable achievement Jason Kenney has just pulled off. He returned from more than a decade outside Alberta provincial politics just two years ago. Within a few months he managed to nudge one political party to suicide, aggressively drive the merger of its remains with a sworn enemy, and then […]

Race whisperers play a dangerous game

Oct 29 2017 — Robin V. Sears — One eternal verity when democratic politicians play dangerous games with race, ethnicity, language or culture, is that they always lie about it. That Ronald Reagan opened his bid for the GOP nomination challenge in Mississippi, only a few miles from where three white civil rights workers had been murdered a decade earlier by local racists, […]

Airline industry a permanent hostage to national interests

Oct 22 2017 — Robin V. Sears — As a green young Tokyo trade diplomat, I was peripherally involved in the efforts by Bombardier to sell its executive jets to the Japan Self-Defense Forces. The Canadian bid won on performance, specs, price and operational testing. Greenies like me were ready to celebrate. More seasoned veterans of this murky world said, “Not so fast […]

Tax reform: Keep it simple

Oct 15 2017 — Robin V. Sears — Wouldn’t it have been grand to have been a fly on the wall of the cabinet room in Wellington, N.Z., in early August 1984. The new government of Prime Minister David Lange had just been sworn in, and the senior civil servant was there to brief his new bosses about the state of the nation. […]

How Singh must grow his party to fulfil his promise

Oct 8 2017 — Robin V. Sears — Partisan politics is necessarily tribal, a blessing and a curse. The tribe provides friends, training, support — for some, jobs — and protection to its members. It also excludes, stereotypes and objectifies the other, behaviour essential to its identity. Its most valuable currency is membership, and the status and network it provides. How generously it […]

Where Canada should its aim international efforts

Oct 1 2017 — Robin V. Sears — To govern is to choose, as the ancient aphorism goes, and is nowhere more true than in foreign affairs. The array of causes, crises and disasters in which a nation can choose to become involved is nearly infinite. Canada’s Global Affairs policy gurus must cherry pick from perhaps a dozen big or emerging issues to […]

Angus vs. Singh: comfort or ambition for the NDP

Sep 24 2017 — Robin V. Sears — As the endless NDP leadership campaign meanders toward its closing days, one man has already given Trudeau Liberals serious political heartburn, the other may have seized the mantle of “natural successor.” Unless Andrew Scheer soon begins to demonstrate that he understands why his party was so decisively thumped by young urban Canadians, his ability to […]

Debate needed on free speech limits in digital era

Sep 2 2017 — Robin V. Sears — Nearly half a century ago, the Star’s long campaign for a ban on hate speech collided with a famous hater. It was at the beginning of the culture wars that bedevil our political discourse still. My father’s editorial in defence of Pierre Trudeau’s new Hate Literature Act set off a legal battle that lasted nearly […]

Trudeau adviser Butts must negotiate with Trump’s Bannon

Aug 17 2017 — Robin V. Sears — The great Israeli statesman, Yitzhak Rabin, tragically murdered just as he was on the verge of pushing a deal with Yasser Arafat, toward a two-state solution, was frequently attacked by the right for his dialogue with the Palestinians. His explosion at his foolish critics — “You negotiate with your enemies!” — has gone into the […]

The allures of the power of personality

Jul 28 2017 — Robin V. Sears — Presbyterians of every type curl their lips at the power of political iconography. Not for them the inexplicable star power of a Reagan, Trump or Trudeau. Their collective moue at the somewhat staggering triumph of Justin Trudeau making the cover of Rolling Stone, is merely the latest proof. Tories’ jealous moans reflect merely their failure […]

Opposition leader the toughest job in politics

Jun 25 2017 — Robin V. Sears — Since we abolished real gladiatorial contests, there is no tougher first day on the job than a nervous new leader of an opposition party. You face your first Question Period, with the prime minister of the day grinning widely at the prospect of slicing you from stem to gudgeon. The galleries are full, the media […]

Letting ambition put your party at risk

Jun 18 2017 — Robin V. Sears — Voters judge a party’s eligibility for leadership by their assessment of character as well as policies. Cowardice and embarrassing behaviour are universal disqualifiers. The most certain disqualifier is disunity. In 1939, M.J. Coldwell risked splitting the CCF over his support for the Second World War, while his pacifist leader, J.S. Woodworth, was opposed. Except that […]

How Macron and Trump changed politics

Jun 11 2017 — Robin V. Sears — As offended as each man would be by the comparison, Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump are the yin and yang of a fascinating new political phenomenon. Each has overturned their political establishments to the horror of veteran politicians and pundits on all sides. France has had a conservative/socialist bipartisan political culture since the decline of […]