Political editor


There’s been some chatter on Twitter to the effect that I’ll be the new Political Editor at Maclean’s, effective immediately. (Actually, effective last week, but we couldn’t announce it yet. That’s what I was doing at the story meeting last Wednesday, colleagues!)

Here’s what the job entails. 

First, I’ll help to lead the magazine’s political coverage in print and online. I’ll be writing more reported pieces than I did in 2011, starting with our next issue later this week. I’ll continue writing the column and, as you’ll have noticed, I’ve resurrected the Inkless Wells blog and won’t be letting it go. Our peerless Ottawa bureau chief, John Geddes, will continue to run our little outpost; I’ll run interference for him by shuttling between Toronto and Ottawa and integrating our political file into the rest of what we do. This will be only the first of several steps in reaffirming Maclean’s position as Canada’s leading source for news and comment about national affairs. We have a lot planned.

Second, I’ll be on the lookout for new voices. We’ve already begun: when Vaclav Havel died, we had a reminiscence from his Canadian translator, Paul Wilson. Emmett Macfarlane has begun blogging for us on Supreme Court decisions. Jordan Owens and Adam Goldenberg blogged for us from the Liberal convention. We hope to have more such insider-outsiders at other party events this year. And I’m really pleased to have Alec Castonguay’s article on F-35 procurement shenanigans, translated from L’actualité, in our current issue. Our French-language sister publication took a big step by hiring Alec as political editor, and I want our two magazines to work together more regularly.

As we set about improving our website and our presence on tablets, smartphones and, I don’t know, clouds, I’ll make sure the needs of readers of our political coverage will get careful consideration. We’ll be looking to develop new products, new public events, new ways for our staff to talk to readers.

I’m still writing a book about Stephen Harper. I’ll just sleep in less often.

Andrew Coyne’s departure was unwelcome news for all of us. We’ve decided not to respond by hiring a new columnist because none could fit his shoes. We’re just going to move forward, aggressively, on a bunch of fronts.

Six years ago under Ken Whyte, Maclean’s started confounding everyone’s expectations about what a national weekly newsmagazine could do. Now under Mark Stevenson we plan to stay one step ahead.

Filed under:

Political editor

  1. “…none could fit his shoes”
    That’s the same reason someone stole Coyne’s coat instead.

    • Mixed metaphors are a personal pet peeve of mine, though I’m not sure this applies exactly?

      I believe Paul meant that “none could FILL his shoes”.

      I know I know. Petty. My apologies to the non-obsessive compulsives. LOL

  2. How about replacing his column with a different blogger each week. Some excellent points of view out there.

  3. Congratulations.

    Keep at it, and someday you may even be promoted to ‘Jazz editor’.

  4. Congratulations!   Sounds exciting.

    I’ve been noticing some changes, new voices etc, and wondered what was up.

  5. Congratulations, Wells. 

    Not that you care what I think but you should get Cosh writing more about politics if you can. Diversity of opinion would be welcome. 

    • Get Cosh writing more, period.

    • Agreed. He looks at things quite differently than I do, so I appreciate the different perspective, well argued.

      • Agreed.  While I agree with Cosh more often than not, it is his ability to argue something cogently that I really enjoy.  So make him argue from a lefty perspective now and again.  It may wind up a little “Blades of Glory”-ish, but parts of that movie are pretty damn funny.

        • He’s certainly good at argumentation. I’m not sure that inherently means his arguments are cogent, but they certainly have that appearance. LOL

      • Cosh’s articles are of course always well written, but somehow he always leaves me feeling he’s contemptuous of those who disagree with his “perspective”.

        I can never quite put my finger on why that is, despite the fact that I usually agree with him.

        In any case, it seems to me his articles get the most comment traffic.

        Maybe Paul can clue us in on that aspect? He seems to love analyzing the meaning of internet traffic. LOL

  6. “Moving forward, aggressively, on a bunch of fronts.” I like the sly reference here. Canada need a national affairs magazine to do just that, especially in these political times we inhabit. Congrats and good luck.

  7. For heaven’s sake, get a reporter on science/environment, and not some fool of an AGW denier! Climate change is becoming the great issue of our time, and it is a disservice to let ignorant, dishonest deniers hog the political pages. Especially if you have a reporter on energy, make sure she understands that energy cannot be divorced from the environmental effects of whatever energy we are using.

    • Ya! Nobody likes opposing view points!

      • Nobody likes stupid, ill-informed, dishonest viewpoints.

        • You might try arguing facts some time, as opposed to name-calling. Somebody might actually take you seriously! *snicker*

          • Patrick Ross, is that you? That smarmy *snicker* is revealing, and greasy.

    • climate change, given the ongoing revelations of outright lies and attempts to hide data, is a dying issue, your protestations not withstanding. But by all means lets get a reporter that understands that his obligation is to report facts and not just tow the media party line. 

      • And this is exactly why we need a genuine science column, instead of a bunch of mushy denier crap from hippy dippy weathermen.

      • No attempt to hide data, unless you think the British govt is involved in some kind of a conspiratorial coverup. In the main it was the denier crowd who wound up looking foolish over that affair.

  8. Congratulations!

  9. Dammit. I wanted Rex Murphy.

    • Yeah, the Don Cherry of journalism; all sound and fury and no substance. 

      • no left wing pseudo substance you mean?

      • Yeah, but hey, if you want to learn a whole bunch of antiquated english, he’s your guy! LOL

  10. Congrats Paul!

    Sure enjoyed Coynes NP piece on the gay marriage “media melt-down”, lol

  11. Congrats PW.

     I can see how losing someone like AC would hurt in lots of ways.

    Any reason Potter doesn’t post anymore? I liked the fact he stirred folks up – even me. I miss him alot actually. I like people who aren’t easy to pigeon hole – macleans strength up to now if i may say so.

    Petrou should step up too – real good.

    I don’t personally mind who comes in, macleans has such a good name for fair reportage i’m sure you’ll find someone stimulating. I like the idea of different bloggers getting some prime time air.

    Maybe you can get Delacourt, that’ll shake up all the conbots. I’d actually welcome a good conservative columnist –  but is there such an animal in the land, other them maybe Selley  – if only to joust with and bounce things off of. CC’s a good one too, forgot about him.

    • Potter is now the editor of the Ottawa citizen.

      • I know. I thought he was while he was posting here, but maybe not, he doesn’t even post that much at the citizen . Maybe he’s racing Paul to get out a book on Harper?

        • Looked him up on the OC website and he’s listed as online politial editor and Macleans columnist…

  12. This is great news! I admit I don’t really comment around these parts anymore, but I’m still reading, and there’s nobody I’d rather have occupying the big chair.

    (You do get a new chair, right?)

  13. Congratulations on the new gig!

  14. This seems like an excellent move by the owners of MacLeans!

    As long as we appear to be making personnel suggestions, I consider myself a fan of Mr. MacFarlane, but sometimes I feel his stuff comes from a very political science grad school kind of place.  Now there’s nothing wrong with that and it’s his regular vocation as I understand it.  But juxtaposing his take every now again with a real process-oriented nuts and bolts guy on legal issues would be an interesting take.  Does someone like Peter Russell do magazine work?

  15. The F-35 article was devoid of context, particularly of the disaster the open bidding contest held for the Sikorsky helicopters and procurement by the Liberals under Chretien.

    It also failed to add context about how the Liberals rushed to war in Afghanistan under Chretien, and subsequently to Kandahar under Martin, with an ill equipped military.

    It also failed to mention the Canada was powerless to do anything about the Rwandan genocide, because Canada had no heavy lift aircraft, and thus the US and France could effectively block UN action to protect people.  It is silly to trumpet lofty ideal like the responsibility to protect without any capability to protect.

    i.e. The article failed to address the question of what is the costs should Canada be willing to endure in military procurement of equipment so that the ideal of R2P was not hollow like it was in Rwanda. R2P comes with a price tag.

    The main stream media tends to forget context when it is making gratuitously easy attacks on the Harper government and the F-35s.

    Where are the hard questions to the so-called creators of the idea of R2P?

    • ARe you sure you aren’t confusing context with “things I’d rather read about?”  And as I recall the article was quite clear about issues like spending extra billions upon billions to be able to drop bombs in the first wave of attack aircraft instead of in the second.

    • Gee, I always thought the “mainstream media” pretty brought out the pompoms for Harper 24/7.

  16. Political reporting is perhaps the most unreliable of reporting done by journalists.  From university onwards to the newsrooms and the media coctail/coffee bar circuit, journos today are overwhelmingly left leaning in their world view.  While the anecdotal evidence of this is obvious, every study on the matter clearly confirms this.

    As such, every facet of reporting with respect to the vast majority of outlets is premised on a leftist/big government perspective, omits facts which undermine that perspective, highlights or exxaggerates facts which support that perspective, and affects whether “news” even sees the light of day (the uniform media blackout on every study – howsoever important – on evidenc contra AGW theory is perhaps the most startling, but sadly not nearly the only example).

    Paul Wells, while a good writer, is a devout leftist and unfortunately his tenure as the political editor will only foster the descent into stark agenda journalism masquarading as “news”.

    • Obviously,  the solution is to hire journalists who have absolutely no education. 

      • Of course there are many educated conservatives, but they generally flock to engineering and business schools (and other productive degrees).  Those who do end up in journalism are usually cast as outcasts or even freaks , or at a minimum their unwelcome perspective makes them second class journalists among those in the influential media circles who serve as gatekeepers in the industry. 

        • No, they flock to farming and plumbing from what I understand.

          I’m glad to hear Levant is considered a freak though.

        • There speaks a man who’s never read a poorly written and illogically argued business or engineering report.

    • “Paul Wells, while a good writer, is a devout leftist and unfortunately his tenure as the political editor will only foster the descent into stark agenda journalism masquarading as “news”.”

      That’s just so funny in more ways you couldn’t imagine. Well, actually you could.

      I’d love to see some of these studies that prove most journos carry water for liberals and the left. Most journos are simply too well educated if i read you right. They need to work more from their gut, like fox or sun news – or some other part of their anatomy anyway.  Can you get Ezra to zip one over?

      …devout leftist…stark agenda…masquarading… curious that so many RW idealogues like to reach for religious symbolism so often, and absolutist, doom laden imagery. Has the smack of fanticism about it i guess and the irrational to boot.

    • So why don’t you hang out at The National Post or any of the Sun papers if you want to be spoon fed the same old pap every day?

    • “…while the anecdotal evidence of this is obvious…”

      Please, please tell me you see the irony of that statement?

      Here, let me help you out:

      Adjective:(of an account) Not necessarily true or reliable, because based on personal accounts rather than facts or research.

      • Oh Please, please,please Phil, tell me you read the rest of the sentence you started to quote—-that`s it go back and reread.

  17. Congratulations.  Well deserved.

  18. So the educated conservatives ‘who end up in journalism are usually cast as outcasts or even freaks’?  I think that’s a bit harsh, they’re not all like Ezra Levant.

  19. Congratulations Paul. I can’t think of a better choice for the role. The resurrecting of the blog is also most welcome.

    • Canada has aircraft carriers?  Do you know what a tail hook is? Canada’s isn’t buying the version of the F35 designed to land on aircraft carriers.  

  20. Aaand you have been missed! : )

  21. YAY! : )

  22. What happened to Coyne anyhow?

    As I keep saying over and over again, my biggest beef with the Ottawa media is that there’s too many of them, and they all cover the same political inanities over and over and over again. They don’t talk to Canadians. They talk to each other.

    Frankly, I thought Coyne got caught up in this a little too often with his boy scout routine. While he and others may well have been obsessed with Harper’s apparent assault on everything that is holy on Parliament Hill, Canadians weren’t.

    So I guess that’s my hope for any new “political” coverage in Maclean’s. Make it relevant beyond the beltway.

  23. Congratulations on your new posting!

  24. Hope this job has a boss that gets you to work more than, wha…, a few more than 3-4 hours a week.

  25. NOW, who do I complain to?  :)

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