National Newswatch

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 […]

Preparing for a new world amid the pandemic

Mar 22 2020 — Robin V. Sears — Fighting our way through weeks, maybe months, of struggle to save lives and communities from disruption and isolation is our immediate challenge. Supporting one another is almost equally important so that social isolation does not mean despair and long-term scars. Helping to fight despair is hard; it’s too often invisible behind a locked door.

Leaders rise during times of crisis

Mar 15 2020 — Robin V. Sears — Crises create and destroy leaders — and which leaders fall and those whose soar, can be surprising. Winston Churchill, until days before his installation as a war prime minister, might have been a historical footnote. A failure as a First World War minister, a disloyal partisan, and a semialcoholic struggling writer. Jimmy Carter, pre-hostage crisis, […]

Why are we so hard on ourselves?

Mar 8 2020 — Robin V. Sears — Reflecting on crises past, former prime minister Jean Chretien said last week that blockades, “won’t break the nation … because Canada is stronger than that.” The 86-year-old statesman recalled the genuine challenge to state authority that was the FLQ, saying, “we always face the problem[s] and we solve them.” Of course, he is right. If […]

Americans are demonstrating how to buy an election

Feb 23 2020 — Robin V. Sears — Asked if she needed help getting to the polls, the angry woman voter said hotly, “Well we haven’t seen anyone yet have we? We’ll just wait till your man arrives with the necessary, won’t we?!,” hanging up with a bang. Baffled, I turned to my local campaign manager on byelection day in a riding in […]

Youth are most affected by policies, so let them vote

Feb 16 2020 — Robin V. Sears — Establishments are always terrified of the young. If you are in power in Hong Kong, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Chile or France today you might be tempted to exclaim, “With bloody good reason!” Armies of Molotov cocktail hurling adolescents on the streets understandably spook the powers that be. But denying the young any effective voice about […]