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The Paul Wells Show

English, News, 2 seasons, 55 episodes, 1 day, 15 hours, 1 minute
Veteran journalist Paul Wells interviews the leaders and thinkers tackling the world's big problems — war and peace, democracy and dictatorship, making governments and communities work. Paul draws on decades of experience as a reporter and columnist at Macleans, the Toronto Star and elsewhere to bring you smart, intimate conversations with newsmakers and people who deserve a higher profile. The Paul Wells Show is produced by Antica, in partnership with the National Arts Centre and the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. It is published by the Toronto Star and iPolitics. Our founding partner is TELUS. Our title sponsor is Compass Rose.
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A new Poilievre biography from Andrew Lawton

Pierre Poilievre may be our prime minister next year, so it’s a good time to learn more about him. Journalist Andrew Lawton’s new book, Pierre Poilievre: A Political Life, follows the Conservative leader’s life and career from childhood to today. Andrew talks to Paul about Poilievre’s political record, his particular brand of conservatism, and what we can expect from Poilievre if he becomes prime minister.    For more detailed show notes or to subscribe to Paul’s Substack, head over to
5/22/202450 minutes, 9 seconds
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How great art gets made

How do people like Stephen Sondheim, Sofia Coppola or David Simon create something from nothing? And what are the threads that tie their work together with making a cookbook or a cartoon? Former New York Magazine and New York Times Magazine editor Adam Moss talked to dozens of creative people to find out how they do it. In his new book, The Work of Art, artists from a wide range of mediums break down the process behind a single piece, sharing sketches, outlines and rejected attempts they worked through along the way.  Go to to see some pages from the book.
5/15/202440 minutes, 57 seconds
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Wells on Trudeau with guest host Vassy Kapelos

The tables are turned this week! Guest host Vassy Kapelos interviews Paul Wells about his new book on the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau on the Ropes. In the book, Paul chronicles how Trudeau came to power, how he's held on for eight years, and how his approach to governing has changed over that time.  Vassy Kapelos is the Chief Political Correspondent at CTV News and the host of CTV Question Period, Power Play and the Vassy Kapelos Show.
5/8/202433 minutes, 23 seconds
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A history of Chinese influence in Canada

Is the commission into foreign election interference asking the wrong question about China? That’s what journalist Jonathan Manthorpe thinks. He argues the real issue is that for decades Canada has failed to confront China’s efforts to control Canadians of Chinese heritage and influence Canadian institutions.    He wrote a book about it, Claws of the Panda: Beijing’s Campaign of Influence and Intimidation in Canada. It was originally published in 2019, but it’s now been updated to take into account everything that’s happened since, right up to the Foreign Interference Commission 
5/1/202444 minutes, 6 seconds
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Jason Kenney's mea culpa

Jason Kenney is back on the show. The former Alberta Premier and Conservative MP offers a mea culpa for his time as Defence Minister, takes issue with a former guest’s views on the war in Ukraine, and tells the story of a young Pierre Poilievre. 
4/24/202439 minutes, 28 seconds
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Dr. Philpott's prescription for fixing healthcare

Canada’s healthcare system is facing some serious problems, and failing many Canadians, but former health minister Dr. Jane Philpott thinks it can be fixed. In her new book, Health for All, she shares her vision for a radical reset to how we think about and  organize healthcare. Dr. Philpott spoke to Paul at the Ottawa International Writers Festival.
4/17/202433 minutes, 2 seconds
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The Justin Trudeau interview, sort of

What does the Trudeau government have to show after eight years in power? Reporter Justin Ling makes the case that the government is deeply dysfunctional on a wide range of issues, and that the Prime Minister is in denial about it. Ling brought those claims to an interview with Justin Trudeau himself. He shares the highlights of that interview with us.  You can read Justin Ling’s profile of Justin Trudeau in The Walrus. 
4/10/202445 minutes, 52 seconds
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Immigration Minister Marc Miller

A few years ago, the government drastically increased their immigration targets, leading to record levels of immigration into Canada. But recently, they’ve decided to temper those numbers, among concerns that such high immigration is exacerbating housing shortages. Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, talks about why the government made that decision.
4/3/202442 minutes, 32 seconds
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Did We Learn Anything from COVID?

COVID-19 exposed some serious weaknesses in Canada’s public institutions. So what have our governments learned? There has been no official attempt to answer that question thoroughly across the country. So two think tanks decided to take it on. They invited experts including politicians, senior public servants, Indigenous leaders and others, to get together and talk about what happened during the pandemic. The Institute for Research on Public Policy and the Institute on Governance released a new report about what they learned. The IRPP’s President and CEO Jennifer Ditchburn and Charles Breton, who runs the IRPP’s Centre of Excellence on the Canadian Federation, join Paul to talk about it.
3/27/202446 minutes, 28 seconds
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The War Inside Rogers

A new book takes us into the messy succession drama inside one of Canada’s biggest companies, Rogers Communications. It features family members fighting in public, two competing boards, and even actor Brian Cox from HBO's Succession. Globe and Mail reporter Alexandra Posadzki’s book Rogers v Rogers takes us behind the scenes of a company trying to find its footing after the death of their founder, all while navigating a high-stakes business deal.
3/20/202442 minutes, 22 seconds
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Ukraine: Mr. Thorsell dissents

In the two years since the Russian invasion, there's largely been a consensus in Canada about supporting Ukraine. Debates in Parliament and the media focus almost entirely on how to best help Ukraine, and not whether we should be helping in the first place. William Thorsell thinks that's a shame. He also thinks it’s time for the West to withdraw from the war and concede defeat. William Thorsell is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Globe and Mail and CEO of the Royal Ontario Museum. He’s currently a distinguished fellow at the Munk School.
3/13/202440 minutes, 23 seconds
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Ranking Canada's Prime Ministers on Foreign Policy

How do Canada’s Prime Ministers measure up when it comes to foreign policy? Political scientist Patrice Dutil polled some colleagues to come up with a ranking. They placed Trudeau right near the bottom, alongside his predecessor Stephen Harper. Dutil joins Paul to break down the rankings and make the case that foreign policy needs to be taken more seriously in Canada.  Patrice Dutil is the editor of Statesmen, Strategists and Diplomats: Canada’s Prime Ministers and the Making of Foreign Policy.
3/6/202452 minutes, 3 seconds
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How did housing become a federal battleground?

Housing policy has become one of the main debates among federal political parties. It wasn’t always this way, even as house prices were getting out of control. So why exactly did the housing crisis become such a prominent issue on the national stage? And can the federal government solve it? Mike Moffatt keeps a close watch on housing policy, and has advised the Trudeau Government on the issue. He is the founding director of the PLACE Centre at the Smart Prosperity Institute, and an assistant professor at Western University’s Ivey Business School. He shares his thoughts on the debate over housing playing out in Parliament.
2/28/202437 minutes
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What's Andrew Coyne so worried about?

Paul's former sparring partner Andrew Coyne joins us to discuss the state of politics, the media and the “difficult and dangerous” times we're living in.  These days, Andrew Coyne is a columnist for the Globe and Mail. This episode was recorded at the Munk School. Subscribe to Paul's Substack for a premium version of this show:
2/14/202444 minutes, 57 seconds
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Janice Stein on the war in Gaza

It’s been four months since Hamas’s October 7th attack on Israel, leading to the war in Gaza. Is there an end in sight?    Foreign policy analyst Janice Stein joins Paul to weigh in on the crisis in the Middle East, the other crises that the world is facing, and the importance of embracing uncertainty in conflict.   Janice Stein is the Belzberg Professor of Conflict Management and Negotiation at the University of Toronto and the Founding Director of the Munk School.   This interview was recorded at the Munk School.
2/7/202449 minutes, 55 seconds
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The Paul Wells Show year-end variety special

Join us for a night of jazz, political wonkery and a novel-length poem about werewolf whalers for some reason. Featuring: - Shuvaloy Majumdar, the new MP for Calgary-Heritage - Jason Guriel, reading from his book The Full Moon Whaling Chronicles - Larisa Galadza, Canada’s former ambassador to Ukraine - Jazz singer Caity Gyorgy, accompanied by Mark Limacher on piano
12/13/20231 hour, 9 minutes, 11 seconds
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EMERGENCY EPISODE: Catherine Tait Makes Her Case for the CBC

CBC/Radio-Canada announced today that they’re cutting 600 existing jobs and leaving another 200 vacant positions unfilled. Shortly before these cuts were announced, their president and CEO Catherine Tait joined Paul to lay out her case for a public broadcaster, and her vision for its future.
12/4/202347 minutes, 47 seconds
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Toomas Ilves on living in Russia’s shadow

As the former president of Estonia, Toomas Henrik Ilves has a unique perspective on Russian aggression. Though he grew up in the United States, he moved back to Estonia and got into politics, helping to lead a technological revolution that has given them a unique advantage for a country of only 1.3 million inhabitants. He talks to Paul about building up his country’s tech sector, pushing to get Estonia into NATO, and what it’s like watching from a small, Baltic country as Russia grows more aggressive.
11/29/202331 minutes, 26 seconds
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Olivia Chow Wants Toronto to Work

When John Tory resigned as mayor of Toronto, Olivia Chow decided to take another shot at the job. Despite much of the establishment lining up against her, she won. She talks to Paul about that campaign, and about trying to implement her vision for the city on a shorter-than-usual term, while dealing with a $1.5 billion deficit from COVID. This episode was recorded live at the University of Toronto’s Munk School.
11/22/202341 minutes, 37 seconds
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Patty Hajdu on pain, healing and politics

Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu joins Paul to talk about reconciliation, drug policy, and the road that led her from working with the most vulnerable members of society, to sitting in Trudeau's Cabinet. This episode was recorded live at the National Arts Centre. Subscribe to Paul's Substack for a premium version of this show:
10/25/202337 minutes, 24 seconds
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Dopesick author on hope and the future of the overdose crisis

Beth Macy is one of the leading chroniclers of crisis in the American heartland. Working in Roanoke, Virginia, she wrote Factory Man, an influential book about outsourcing in American industry. Then she wrote Dopesick, an account of the opioid overdose crisis. Dopesick became an award-winning TV series. Now Macy has written a sequel, Raising Lazarus, looking for hope and a path forward on overdoses. Please take five minutes to complete this podcast survey for a chance at a $100 gift card.
10/19/202241 minutes, 47 seconds
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Jason Kenney, the Man the Right Left Behind

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney reflects on his surprise resignation, after he lost the votes of nearly half of his party. He talks about how COVID hardened the divides in the conservative movement, how Donald Trump has influenced Canadian politics, and the future of conservatism in Canada.
9/28/202240 minutes, 40 seconds
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How the Invasion has Changed Ukraine, and how it’s Changing Canada

Roman Waschuk spent more than three decades in Canada’s foreign service, beginning in Moscow in the final years of the Soviet Union, and ending as Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine from 2014 to 2018. He is currently Ukraine’s Business Ombudsman, a role he began shortly before the Russian invasion. He talks to Paul about how the invasion has changed Ukraine, how it’s changing Canada, and how it might yet change Russia. The Paul Wells Show is produced by ANTICA, in partnership with the National Arts Centre and the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. It is published by the Toronto Star and iPolitics. Our founding sponsor is TELUS and the title sponsor is Compass Rose.
9/21/202246 minutes, 46 seconds