National Newswatch

Conservatives had the money, but forgot the message

Oct 20 2015 — Tom Flanagan — The Conservative campaign never really moved the dial for Stephen Harper. The party started the campaign at about 30 per cent in the polls and ended at about the same level. It has now been pushed back to its core support in western Canada and rural Ontario, about the same place that it was after […]

The campaign’s final make-or-break weeks

Oct 5 2015 — Tom Flanagan — The endgame of this long election campaign is coming into view. Thomas Mulcair’s attempt to remake the New Democratic party as a moderate-centre party has failed, brought down by what Marxists call “internal contradictions.” His promise to balance the federal budget while not raising taxes (other than the corporate income tax) can’t be squared with […]

Harper would have the upper hand in a minority House

Aug 19 2015 — Tom Flanagan — Once again, minority government seems like a possible outcome of a federal election, so let’s look at some scenarios. They all involve a double helix of constitutional rules and political calculations. Start with the constitutional parameters. A sitting prime minister remains in office until he resigns or is defeated on a confidence matter in the […]

The irony of the AFN’s call for an anti-Tory vote

Jul 20 2015 — Tom Flanagan — Leaders of the Assembly of First Nations are urging their people to defeat the Conservatives on Oct. 19. Vote Liberal or NDP, is the message, but not Conservative. “We can mitigate the damages by voting for a different government in this upcoming election,” Manitoba Chief Derek Nepinak said. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has […]

How Notley can avoid becoming a one-term wonder

May 7 2015 — Tom Flanagan — It was a great night for Rachel Notley and the Alberta NDP. The Alberta Liberals collapsed, giving the NDP free run on the left. Having won 53 of 87 seats, the NDP can govern for four years with a comfortable majority. But Ms. Notley should be realistic about her new popularity. The last three Alberta […]

It’s fear and loathing time in Alberta

Apr 24 2015 — Tom Flanagan — The Alberta election campaign is entering its final week, when many voters make up their mind whom to support, or whether to vote at all. Things become brutally simple in the endgame as primal emotions come to the fore. Two passions rule Canadian politics, fear and loathing. The opposition parties try to make voters loathe […]

Ms. Smith leaves Edmonton

Mar 29 2015 — Tom Flanagan — The Wildrose supporters who gathered to choose a new leader Saturday night broke into raucous cheers when they heard that former leader Danielle Smith had been defeated for the Conservative nomination in High River. Ms. Smith had made herself infamous in Wildrose circles by crossing the floor to join the governing Conservatives and taking eight […]

Premier Prentice is pulling off a most Canadian coup

Mar 7 2015 — Tom Flanagan — Alberta politics looks like a replay of 1993, when premier Ralph Klein attacked the provincial budget deficit with an austerity program. In an economic sense, the challenge Premier Jim Prentice faces is easier than the one that confronted Mr. Klein. The 1993 deficit was larger in relative terms than today’s deficit, the province had slipped […]

Time for a quick compromise on assisted suicide

Feb 13 2015 — Tom Flanagan — The Supreme Court of Canada has just presented Parliament with a new challenge. In its decision in the Carter case, the court has invalidated sections 14 and 241(b) of the Criminal Code, which together make it illegal for anyone, not just a physician, to counsel another person to suicide or to assist in carrying it […]

Once again, Alberta’s without opposition

Dec 18 2014 — Tom Flanagan — Opposition Leader Danielle Smith, House Leader Rob Anderson and other Wildrose MLAs are crossing the floor to join Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives after having failed to persuade the rest of the Wildrose MLAs to go with them. It’s a profoundly cynical act of political opportunism to make such a move without consulting the Wildrose executive and […]

Trudeau’s rush to judgment

Nov 7 2014 — Tom Flanagan — By suspending Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti from his caucus, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has already sentenced them, even though he has referred their cases to the Speaker of the House and the Board of Internal Economy to reach a verdict. Mr. Trudeau was placed in a difficult position when two New Democratic MPs made […]

Government’s still harshing Colorado’s mellow

Oct 16 2014 — Tom Flanagan — Following referendum approval in 2012, Colorado is now the first North American jurisdiction to offer legal sale of marijuana. Its regime is regulated free enterprise. Licensed retailers buy from licensed producers and sell to anyone who is at least 21 years old. The legal possession limit for consumers is one ounce (28 grams), except for […]

Can Jim Prentice put Humpty Dumpty together again?

Sep 20 2014 — Tom Flanagan — New Alberta Premier Jim Prentice is taking steps to restore the Progressive Conservative government’s reputation for integrity and frugality. He appointed a cabinet of just 20 ministers, omitting those whose reputations had been most tarnished in the era of Alison Redford. He also included two high-profile people from outside the legislature, who will seek seats […]

A federal inquiry was never going to accomplish much

Aug 28 2014 — Tom Flanagan — Provincial premiers and native organizations are finally taking the initiative on the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women, compromising on their calls for a federally led inquiry in favour of a national roundtable organized by the provinces. Federal involvement was never likely to accomplish much, because almost all programs and services with a bearing […]

Redford witch hunt demeans Alberta

Aug 6 2014 — Tom Flanagan — “Yippee yi oh, Yippee yi aye / Ghost riders in the sky.” – Johnny Cash. Former Alberta premier Alison Redford has been savagely swarmed in the media, but the mobbing was more demeaning to Alberta than it was to her. It began with a leaked story from a provincial Auditor-General’s inquiry into Ms. Redford’s use […]