An approaching recession, an aging government, and just-in-time politics, with Paul Wells

(Lyndsey Smith/RealAgriculture)

If you follow mainstream media, you’ve likely heard the name Paul Wells.

Wells was the lead political columnist at Maclean’s magazine for 19 years. His byline has also cropped up in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and the National Post.

His latest endeavour is a Substack subscription newsletter, as well as The Paul Wells Show, a podcast and live interview series. RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney had the opportunity to catch up with Wells at the Grow Canada Conference held at Ottawa, Ont., this week.

Check out the full conversation between Wells and Haney below, followed by a summary:


  • Wells left McLean’s in March of this year — they didn’t see eye to eye on what kind of magazine Maclean’s should be
  • You can now find his work at
  • COVID-19 happened. The general population is exhausted, but so are people in government — they didn’t run for office to manage a plague
  • All of us have to understand what’s going on, given what we’ve all been living through
  • Pierre Poilievre, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, is a much better speaker and political marketer than the last two conservative leaders
  • When the economy is not going well, voters often look around for an alternative
  • Wells has known Poilievre for 20 years and says he’s a very resourceful, clever, political thinker
  • No one is going to appeal to everyone — but yet the leader has to figure out a way to win power
  • Different people have different definitions of where the political centre is
  • It’s not necessarily a matter of whether there will be a recession, it’s how deep of a recession will it be?
  • How resilient is the Canadian economy to withstand some of these pressures, as the Bank of Canada is really forced to flight inflation by raising rates?
  • As much as he’d maybe like to, Wells cannot read minds. Not even Prime Minister Trudeau’s
  • The alliance between the Liberals and the NDP is written on water — either party could walk away from it today if they felt like it
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is one of the most successful Liberal leaders in the history of the party
  • He’s already beaten three Conservative leaders in a row
  • Hard times help this government think more responsibly in some ways
  • Chrystia Freeland is finally starting to listen to voices of reason that say you can’t have everything all the time, you can’t afford everything, you have to make some choices
  • The government is finally starting to talk in the language of choices and responsibility
  • These days, elections are won by a hair
  • Who actually has a long-term economic plan that they’re putting in place methodically these days?
  • There’s two reasons why the list of governments that act that way is short: One is there’s always a crisis, and two, there’s always an opportunity to excite your voters with some shiny object


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