Policy is only part of the Tory problem

"I think we need to talk about the things we stand for, not so much the things we stand against."

— Rona Ambrose, interim federal Conservative leader

Ambrose is no dummy. She knows the Conservative party faces an identity crisis. She knows the party will not regain power simply by opposing most everything on the agenda of the Trudeau Liberals.

Trump remains a force to be reckoned with

Despite the close, three-way race for the Republican Iowa caucus on Monday, one is reminded that to a large extent, this is a game of expectations, and by that standard, third-place finisher Marco Rubio might have emerged as the real winner.

However, Donald Trump leading in polls in almost every other state is still a force to reckon with, and Ted Cruz actually finished first. A conclusion that can be drawn from this result is that the nomination contest won't be a cakewalk for anyone, and will continue on longer than some expected just a few days ago.

One less newspaper really does matter

"A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself." — playwright Arthur Miller, 1961

The Guelph Mercury, which died last week at age 149, was a good newspaper. Sister paper to the Waterloo Region Record, the Mercury may not have had the reach of the Globe and Mail or the Toronto Star, but in its best days the "Merc" was the information lifeblood of Guelph and environs.

Nations of Middle East must do more to help their region

As U.S. President Barack Obama enters the final year of his presidency his popular support level has slipped below the 50 per cent mark overall, but in the area of foreign policy it is significantly lower, and has regularly registered below 40 per cent in public approval for some months.

Much of the problem seems to stem from international events and the ubiquity of terrorism pursued by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), among others, that do not comport with the kind of world that the president aspires to.

Trudeau had it and Stanfield did not

Luck is a precious thing in politics.

To take a couple of examples among Canadian leaders, Justin Trudeau has had good luck, oodles of it, in his short career, while Robert Stanfield had none when he needed it most.

Let's start with Bob Stanfield, the man they called the "best prime minister Canada never had." Stanfield was the immensely popular Progressive Conservative premier of Nova Scotia. Folks in his province contended he could keep getting re-elected as long as he lived — and maybe for one election posthumously.