March 31, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 95  

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All’s Wells that ends well: talkin’ politics

By Marshall Bellamy
Gazette Staff
Dave Picard/Gazette
THE GAZETTE IS DEFINITELY ON THE HOT LIST AT MACLEAN’S, I KID YOU NOT. Paul Wells, back page editor at Maclean’s magazine and former Gazetter, talks about Canadian politics in the Social Science Centre yesterday.

Paul Wells, the back page editor for Maclean’s magazine and a Gazette alumnus, visited Western yesterday to discuss the upcoming federal election and other political issues of the day.

The discussion was largely centred around the much-anticipated federal election, which many expect to be called soon.

“It’s reasonable to bet that Martin is going to win something close to a majority,” he said. “That’s fine, unless you’re Paul Martin who wants to be the best prime minister ever.

“I wouldn’t want to be read here as making any firm predictions for the election,” he added.

“The opposition parties seem to be finding their footing,” Wells noted, pointing out the example of the Conservative Party. “[But Harper is] the inheritor of a party that people across the country don’t really want to vote for.”

Wells also made light of some of the criticisms he has levelled at Martin since he became prime minister. “Martin came to office talking about ideas, and he became prime minister realizing he doesn’t have any,” he said. Any firm plans from Martin would have been developed between his leadership victory and the federal election, something less likely now that Martin is worrying about the aftermath of the sponsorship scandal. “People are noticing they don’t have a government.”

According to Wells, Martin has surrounded himself with advisors with expertise in political campaigning, noting that since becoming prime minister, Martin has not hired experts in governance and policy-making.

“It was easy to think you could do better than [former prime minister] Jean Chrétien because he made a life’s work of making the job look easy,” Wells said of Martin’s perceptions of the job, noting that many Martin Liberals would ask “what would Jean do?” and then do the opposite.

“Paul Martin’s Ottawa leaks like a sieve — it’s a reporter’s joy,” he added. “It’s starting to feel like the last years of Chrétien — you begin to drift away until the activists of Chrétien come in. The problem is you don’t have any activists of Martin.”

“I think he represents a strong voice in Canadian politics,” said political science masters student Darryl Whitehead, citing jokes he read on Wells’ website that he feels accurately reflect the state of the Liberals.

“I think he epitomizes the tone of the press corps — which is important to get because it is difficult to understand,” said fourth-year political science student Tait Simpson, noting that federal politics is usually complicated, and Wells made it palatable for everyone else.



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