National Newswatch

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.

Why do we allow politicians to lie to us?

May 26 2019 — Robin V. Sears — To many in politics, political lies fall into the same category as the white lies one tells a partner or friend to avoid giving offence. In essence, part of life. Similarly, false promises in campaigning are seen as essential to compete against the other guy’s equally improbable pledges.

Green Party success could create hostile internal divisions

May 19 2019 — Robin V. Sears — Forty years ago this spring, an eloquent, passionate, young American-educated German named Petra Kelly helped to launch the Green movement that swept first West Germany and then much of Western Europe. Kelly was one of those naturally charismatic politicians who drew supporters from a broad sweep of German voters: left and right, young and old.

Jagmeet Singh sets a new standard for political memoirs

May 12 2019 — Robin V. Sears — John Diefenbaker, Tommy Douglas, and David Lewis each had difficult, even scarring, childhoods. Illness, poverty, prejudice were part of their early lives. Yet, like their fellow party leaders of that era, those painful memories were not part of their public biography. It was not acceptable to discuss that type of personal history as recently as […]

Political parties are wise to court expat voters

May 5 2019 — Robin V. Sears — If you are reading this in the Star online, sitting at home in London, L.A. or Hong Kong, you may not know that you can help choose Canada’s next government. It’s not your fault if you did not know. It has been very poorly communicated to the nearly three million Canadians who live abroad.

Rachel Notley’s legacy will be difficult to undo

Apr 28 2019 — Robin V. Sears — Once in a generation or so, in most provinces, a transformative premier arrives. Their legacy outlives them. Jean Lesage and Rene Levesque’s legacy lives on in the success of Quebec Hydro, central to the province’s economy decades later. Bill Davis’ creation of the largest network of community colleges in the nation is at the foundation […]

Isn’t it time the wealthy paid fair taxes?

Apr 21 2019 — Robin V. Sears — The wealthy are expert at hanging on to their wealth, often through concealing its existence in tax shelters, offshore, and in private corporations. It’s part of the reason our wealth inequality is now growing very fast. The Trudeau government is fond of bragging about how much its tax changes have done to bring tax fairness […]

The crushing impact of social media freeloaders

Apr 14 2019 — Robin V. Sears — “Hitler would have loved social media” So said Disney CEO, Bob Iger, last week, receiving an award from the Simon Weisenthal Center for his work against racism and anti-Semitism. He meant, of course, the ability to use these platforms for hateful propaganda. There are so many reasons to be enraged about the social media monopolists […]

Alberta debates shine a bright light on character

Apr 7 2019 — Robin V. Sears — Rachel Notley may not flaunt the swaggering charisma of a Trudeau, but as she demonstrated in this week’s leaders’ debate, she sure wins on character. She conveys as well, a deep determination to fight for a politics of values, as she laced her opponent over and over for his wobbly handling of some very insalubrious […]

The premier you don’t know, but should

Mar 31 2019 — Robin V. Sears — British Columbia politics has the most vicious history of partisanship of any in Canada, a preference for political bridge burning over building. Nasty campaign tactics, threats against candidates, even the occasional outbreak of violence were hallmarks of B.C. politics from the creation of the Social Credit coalition in the ’40s for the next half century. […]

The delicate craft of caucus management

Mar 24 2019 — Robin V. Sears — During the 1981 bitter battle over the Charter of Rights an NDP MP was accused of leaking a confidential set of amendments to a Liberal colleague on the committee, wrestling with daily comma by comma confrontations. He narrowly escaped expulsion from a divided caucus. When Brian Mulroney polled in the low teens, he regularly had […]

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 […]