Paul Wells
The Paul Wells Show podcast
The Paul Wells Show year-end variety special

The Paul Wells Show year-end variety special

Featuring a politician, a diplomat, a singer and some werewolf whalers
Larisa Galadza, Canada’s former ambassador to Ukraine, at the NAC. Photos: Curtis Perry

If there’s a point to what I’m doing these days, beyond the gratifying fact that growing numbers of you like and support it, it’s that I’m trying to present some other tone in our national conversation besides stupid accusation. The markets for scandalized attack are amply served. Curiosity, empathy and discovery have a lonelier row to hoe.

On Monday night at the National Arts Centre’s Fourth Stage, with the help of friends and invited guests, I threw a party for as many of this newsletter’s paid subscribers as would fit in the door. (Sorry to the rest of you. We’ll do this again, in assorted places and back in the capital.)

The house was packed, the mood was bright, the guest list… eclectic? Not typical of an Ottawa work-week night out? Just weird? I’m grateful for audiences who can handle curveballs. Rookie Calgary-Heritage MP Shuvaloy Majumdar (CPC) was there…

…as was Jason Guriel, whose epic novel in verse The Full-Moon Whaling Chronicles is set in a post-apocalyptic future where Newfoundland has sunk beneath the waves and ships piloted by werewolves hunt whales (I know, but you should see the reviews)…

Larisa Galadza’s photo is at the top of this post. She arrived in Kyiv as Canada’s ambassador in 2019, just in time to respond to Iran’s missile attack on Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752. Followed by COVID-19. Followed by the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. It’s hard to imagine a tougher series of trials for any diplomat. Galadza’s description of those overlapping, intersecting crises, and the people she met in her post before returning to Canada in August, was riveting.

And then because it was my show, we closed with a singer I introduced to my readers in April, the two-time Juno winner Caity Gyorgy. She flew in from Calgary with pianist Mark Limacher, her formidable accompanist on her latest duet album, You’re Alike, You Two.

Then we had snacks and hung out for another hour and a half after the show was over. Caity Gyorgy, incidentally, will be at Yardbird Suite in Edmonton and Buckingjam Palace in Calgary over the weekend.

When I started concocting this lineup I told colleagues I was aiming for a tone I described as “Nerd Ed Sullivan.” Growing up, I was always nervous about inviting more than a couple of friends to anything because I assumed my friends wouldn’t get along. Of course, your friends usually get along because your friends are usually good people. On that principle, I decided this jam-packed hour-and-change would leave few in the audience grumbling. It worked exactly as I hoped.

This is a strange thing I’m doing these days. There is obviously a dose of ego in it — I mean, I called the whole enterprise “Paul Wells” — but increasingly, also a sense of gratitude and obligation to the people who want to come along. In our brief interview, Shuv Majumdar talks about realizing that the people he meets at the door when he campaigns depend on him, at least occasionally at least a little. I know there’ll be spirited debate in the comments about how well he acquits that obligation, but I don’t doubt for a second that he feels it, because in a very different way and venue, I feel a little of that too.

I’ve left the paywall off this episode of the podcast. If even a little of the spirit that filled the room on Monday makes its way into this recording, I’ll be pleased if you pass it along to help spread the word. And of course, for first news of similar events in the future and to get all of my stuff in the archives, you are always welcome to upgrade to a paid subscription.

This won’t be my last post for the year, but I suspect I’ll throttle down a bit from my usual pace so I can spend time with family. Thanks again to all of you.


You can listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts and a bunch of other platforms via the “Listen On” button at the top of this post. You can download any episode to listen to it later, via the same “Listen On” button. If you listen on a podcast platform, smash those “Like” and “Subscribe” buttons, and leave a good review, to help spread the word. This makes more of a difference than you might think in helping other people learn about this podcast. You can read a (machine-generated) transcript of this week’s episode via the "Transcript” button right over the photo at the top of this page. That button is normally only visible on desktop browser versions of this newsletter, not in your phone’s Substack app.

The Munk School at the University of Toronto is the principal patron of this podcast. The National Arts Centre put everything they had into ensuring the success of this live event. Thanks to all of them and to you. Please tell your friends to subscribe to The Paul Wells Show on their favourite podcast app, or to become paid subscribers to this newsletter, where most episodes contain bonus material you can only get here.

Paul Wells
The Paul Wells Show podcast
Canada's leading podcast for serious, respectful interviews with leading newsmakers, thinkers and creators from Canada and around the world.