National Newswatch

Historic times as cracks show in caucus walls

Mar 17 2019 — Robin V. Sears — In the U.K., the U.S. and Canada we may have seen the first cracks in the partisan walls that guarantee caucus discipline in each place. In the U.S., 12 Republican senators defied a presidential demand they support his “national emergency” to shift money from defence spending to his wall. This is a first in his […]

Can Trudeau learn lessons from his father’s 1972 campaign?

Mar 10 2019 — Robin V. Sears — It had been an ecstatic election. Canadians made a decisive change, rejecting a shaky Conservative government, choosing an untested political star. He offered a bold vision on Indigenous Canadians, new social policy, and a Canada open to more immigrants and refugees. The Conservatives had fielded a leader who seemed out of sync with the “new […]

The political case for big and bright over nasty and mean

Feb 24 2019 — Robin V. Sears — It has become a basic truth among a generation of campaigners who grew up with social media that the only campaign strategy and tactics that deliver votes are nasty. Starting with the Harris government, continuing through the Harper years, to their several provincial cousins today — some of different parties — campaign planning today is […]

Political whistleblowers deserve our thanks

Feb 17 2019 — Robin V. Sears — Politicians of all stripes love whistleblowers — until they are in power. Then the offending civil servant, public employee, or angry citizen becomes a “disloyal, illegal leaker!” Of all the many hypocritical hobby horses in political life there are few that can match this dichotomy. The Ford government was badly bruised this month when their […]

Cyberattacks are hitting Canadian politics today

Feb 10 2019 — Robin V. Sears — Some politicians and cyber experts have been raising the alarm about cyberattacks and social media lies as threats to democracies, to mostly indifferent reaction, for years. The lies and attacks are already happening in Canada: Here’s the tally of just the past two weeks:

Why pundits and pollsters are so often wrong

Feb 3 2019 — Robin V. Sears — The day before many polls said “Too close too call,” election night saw a near 50 per cent majority in the crucial Nanaimo byelection. Why? It has become routine to trash pollsters for their forecasts, often widely divergent from real election outcomes. Less common is to hold pundits to task for their equally poor hit […]

Youth voters can shift political landscape — if they turn out

Jan 27 2019 — Robin V. Sears — There have been a few breakthrough elections in bringing young voters to the polls: Obama in 2008, Trudeau in 2015. There have been elections where young voters stayed home even more than usual, with disastrous results: the Brexit referendum in the U.K. However, most years 1-in-3 voters between 18 and 24, turnout. In Canada this […]

Is it time for a backbench revolt?

Jan 20 2019 — Robin V. Sears — Prime ministers of the United Kingdom and Canada have risen to become the most powerful leaders in the G7. Not having any real separation between the executive branch — Prime Minister’s Office/Privy Council Office, cabinet, federal agencies and departments — and the legislature — the House of Commons and Senate; and with iron fisted caucus […]

How taxes, and death, will impact the federal election

Jan 13 2019 — Robin V. Sears — Benjamin Franklin was right. Death and taxes are the only certitudes. But in electoral politics it is usually, “Why so much tax and for what!” that drives decisions, not mortality angst. No one expected 1988 to become “the free trade” election. Even fewer thought “sunny ways” would leap to the top of the charts. Guessing […]

Defectors damage democracy and their careers

Dec 2 2018 — Robin V. Sears — The sudden slide of MPP Amanda Simard into the purgatory of “independent” MPP was sad to see — whether self-imposed or shoved. There are few roles more barren of meaning or consequence in our heavily whipped caucus management politics. She avoided a worse choice, however — defecting. Those who cross the floor betraying their political […]

Hong Kong’s lessons for Canada

Nov 25 2018 — Robin V. Sears — Hong Kong is Canada’s 15th largest city. Nearly 400,000 Canadians live here — only slightly smaller than Halifax — more than any other city in the world. It is more importantly, Asia’s only world metropolis. But it is enduring wrenching change as its forced integration with China gathers pace.

China turns to Canada for help with Trump

Nov 18 2018 — Robin V. Sears — Once a decade or two Canada gets to play a much bigger role on the global stage than our scale would normally merit. At the creation of the UN, NATO, and peacekeeping, on Suez and killing apartheid, Canadians played essential bridge-building roles between the great powers. We may have arrived at a new such moment. […]

Character matters in political leadership

Nov 11 2018 — Robin V. Sears — Donald Trump’s electoral humiliation this week has many roots. But to leadership historians it was perhaps, most of all, a judgement of character by American women. A record number of women voted against him, and for a record number of new women in Congress and at the state level. Make no mistake, Trump did get […]