Ms. Wente was born in Chicago. She moved to Toronto in 1964 and has since become a naturalized Canadian citizen. She holds a BA in English from the University of Michigan, and an MA in English from University of Toronto.
Ms. Wente joined The Globe and Mail in 1986 and has been a full-time columnist since 1999. She is also the author of the book An Accidental Canadian: Reflections on My Home and (Not) Native Land (2004, HarperCollins, ISBN 0002007983).
Wente's column is written from a conservative standpoint and has regularly provoked controversy. In January 2005, when writing about a dispute between the federal government and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, she compared the premier of the province to "a deadbeat brother-in-law" and called Newfoundland "the most vast and scenic welfare ghetto in the world". The piece attracted much criticism, including from the premier.
A vocal supporter of Republicanism in Canada, Wente has commented often in her column about ending the Monarchy of Canada. In a Globe and Mail article in 2001, she said the monarchy "stands for much that has held Canada back... embodies the triumph of inheritance over merit, of blood over brains, of mindless ritual over innovation" and that "in Quebec, the Royals are regarded as an insult."
A June 2008 article following Stephen Harper's apology to Canada's aboriginal population contained the assertion that, in spite of the negative experiences of the vast majority of those in the schools, some benefited from them. Perhaps most controversial was a statement in the same article that suggested some of the natives taken away faced worse problems at home, such as tuberculosis and head lice away from the residential schools.
Ms. Wente is a director of Energy Probe, a Toronto-based environmental organization that promotes conservation and renewable energy and opposes nuclear power expansion.