Maybe it’s something to do with premiers. I usually take my time with an interview, take care to put a guest at ease, try to draw them out on some element of their life away from work. But I feel like, when I have a provincial premier in front of me, there are so many files to catch up on that I don’t have time for pleasantries.
So this conversation with David Eby is dense, by this podcast’s recent standards. Agreeably so, I think. Eby is the premier to a province with 5 million people and a lot of challenges. He had a front-row seat, but frustratingly little influence, in the aftermath of Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s assassination three months ago. So I started there and never paused for small talk afterward.
Topics covered include the opioid crisis, the housing crisis, Pierre Poilievre’s dedicated efforts to make political hay from both (Eby says they haven’t talked. Imagine my surprise), energy, foreign political influence, and more.
Eby’s this really tall guy who moved to Vancouver from Ontario less than 20 years ago, worked at Pivot Legal Society as a human-rights lawyer and in a succession of alternative-rock bands as a not entirely persuasive singer. Here’s a Facebook photo of the band World of Science from 2009. That’s Eby on the right, pointing at the day job he wisely didn’t quit.
Eby eventually became John Horgan’s attorney general in the province’s 2017 NDP government. When Horgan left politics last year to concentrate on his health, Eby was the only candidate to replace him.
I’ll let you listen to his account of what happened next. Provincial premiers play such an outsized role in our system that I’m always happy to talk to one. I’m grateful that my friends at the National Arts Centre made it easy: visiting Ottawa to meet with Justin Trudeau, Eby had his driver pull up to the NAC’s Elgin St. curb, and we went straight downstairs to the NAC podcast studio. (It could be just as easy for Doug Ford, François Legault or Danielle Smith to pop by for an interview, hint hint. Don’t be shy, communications teams of Canada’s premiers!)
Thanks for checking out the latest weekly episode of The Paul Wells Show. I’m so pleased for the support of the Munk School at the University of Toronto, where I’m the inaugural journalist fellow-in-residence. My friends at Antica Productions help me with all sorts of technical aspects and general podcast philosophizing. The NAC are a valuable partner in Ottawa.
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