National Newswatch

Faith itself is not Andrew Scheer’s problem

Dec 1 2019 — Robin V. Sears — Jagmeet Singh arguably had the best personal performance as a political leader in the federal election. Facing pundits who were betting that the party would lose its official status, a campaign war-chest half of what it had been a decade earlier and a very low recognition level among most Canadians, he campaigned boldly and with […]

An enlightening experience stumping for Labour during the U.K. election

Nov 24 2019 — Robin V. Sears — If you thought our recent election was insulting, that the parties’ behaviour was rude, have a look at the U.K. Dirty tricks, vulgar insults, and bizarre stunts abound. This week the Conservatives were threatened with being banned by Twitter for changing their party’s account name from “Conservative Party” to “FactCheck.org,” to blast out lies. FactCheck […]

The dual arts of political put-downs and political civility appears to be lost

Nov 3 2019 — Robin V. Sears — We have witnessed an astonishing decline in political wit in recent years. It has been replaced by elementary schoolyard insults delivered by the faux enraged. In recent American experience, it has become difficult to distinguish Donald Trump from his Alex Baldwin “Saturday Night Live” persona. “Human scum?” “Traitors and spies?” As descriptions of men and […]

History shows how to make a minority government work

Oct 20 2019 — Robin V. Sears — When Robert Stanfield and Pierre Trudeau went to bed on Oct. 30, 1972 neither knew who had a future as prime minister. In those days, B.C. polls stayed open until 11 p.m. Ottawa time and there were too many seats too close to give a final count. It was also the first election in which […]

Strong leadership will influence social inclusion in Quebec

Oct 13 2019 — Robin V. Sears — There is a wide chasm between the views of progressive Quebecers and the rest of Canada about social inclusion. The divide is most sharply revealed over Bill 21. Many Quebecers cannot see the racial and cultural offence that the bill’s purported defence of “laicity” — a secular state free of religion — inflicts on citizens […]

We need better debates

Oct 6 2019 — Robin V. Sears — The classic debate is two people with a moderator. That was true in the Roman Senate. It is true in every legislative chamber and courtroom to this day. A speaker speaks, an opponent responds, and occasionally the judge or the speaker imposes discipline. It is usually true at the Munk Debates, the gold standard in […]

Don’t underestimate rural rage in Canada

Sep 22 2019 — Robin V. Sears — As a blasé urbanite who pooh-poohed rising populism warnings among rural Canadians, I got a shock this summer. As vulgarians like the Ontario premier and myth merchants like the new Alberta premier gained power, the alarms rose. At a big city cocktail party you’re not likely to hear muttering about refugees or the nanny state’s […]

Dodging debates not a new Trudeau strategy

Sep 8 2019 — Robin V. Sears — After too many smoky hours, Bill Fox, the Tory debate negotiation leader, and I looked at each other. It was a shared, painful moment of epiphany. Fox leaned over and said quietly, “We’re being played…!” In the corridor a few minutes later, we both rued how long it had taken for the penny to drop. […]

Vote suppression is not Canadian

Jun 23 2019 — Robin V. Sears — Discouraging people from voting, even actively suppressing their right to vote, is a fine political craft in many parts of the United States, even today. It is not in Canada. Before the 2015 election, the Harper government passed legislation forbidding Elections Canada from encouraging citizens to vote — a kinder, gentler Canadian form of vote […]

Conservatives feel heat on climate change

Jun 16 2019 — Robin V. Sears — A few days ago, Lisa Raitt made a serious blunder. For no obvious reason, she decided to attack Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by saying there was no clear link between extreme weather and climate change. Thousands of angry tweets later she took down her provocative post. It’s not clear whether this will mean temporary damage […]

Politicians, tech giants failed to take fake news seriously

Jun 9 2019 — Robin V. Sears — “Falsehood flies, while the truth comes limping after it,” said English satirist Jonathan Swift. While that may have been an exaggeration two centuries ago, it sure isn’t today. A fake news story, a doctored video, or a quote torqued to reverse its meaning, are a keystroke away from being put in front of a billion […]

Lessons for Canada in the EU elections

Jun 2 2019 — Robin V. Sears — “End of the world” headlines notwithstanding, the European Parliament elections last week were far more nuanced than merely the rise of populists. In fact, the traditional, centre-left and centre-right alliances will continue to choose the EU’s leaders and to govern Europe — and the Greens will hold the balance of power.