What to Expect in 2012
So what's in store in 2012?
So long confidence votes and election speculation - for the first time in nearly a decade, the Prime Minister will be able to govern without distraction.
What Harper will actually do with this newly won freedom is a bit of mystery. He had a meager election platform, with most of the big ticket promises put on hold until Canada is out of deficit. His longstanding pet projects - killing the gun registry, abolishing the wheat board, and passing crime legislation - are effectively done, and the Supreme Court poured cold water on his plan for a National Securities Regulator.
That said, there is still work to do. There's the little matter of this economic recession to deal with. There's a new Health Accord to be negotiated. There's a hockey book to finish and musicians to jam with. And hell, since Harper is now one of the longest serving PMs in Canadian history, perhaps he wants to build a bit of a legacy so that he's remembered as more than the guy who cut the GST and killed the Census.
The Opposition Parties
The NDP will pick a leader in March and will spend the rest of the year trying to define their new leader.
The Liberal leadership race likely won't kick off in earnest until September, but the whispers about Bob Rae and other potential candidates are certain to grow until then. And there's that whole matter of rebuilding the party to deal with at some point.
Due to Alberta's new "kind of fixed election dates" law, we know there will be a vote this Spring. Due to Alberta's old "no one but the PCs can govern" law, we know who will win.
BC won't vote until 2013, but Christy Clark will certainly be in pre-election mode, fending off the new Conservative Party. In Quebec, an election is possible in 2012, but likely won't be held until 2013 unless François Legault's new party flounders.
Ontario is now home to Canada's only minority government, so an election there is possible, though unlikely.
The US election is certain to capture the attention of many Canadians, even though it likely pushes a lot of Canada-US issues to the backburner.
And given the worldwide economic recession, Canadians and Canadian politicians will likely be paying closer attention than usual to what happens overseas. Hey, maybe we'll get some kind of Canada-EU free trade deal.
The are known knowns and unknown knowns, but here are a few things we can be reasonably sure will happen in 2012:
1. There will be some trivial controversy involving the NHL playoffs or Olympics. This controversy will likely involve Denis Coderre.
2. There will be some trivial controversy involving a Cabinet Minister. The opposition will shout long and hard, but Harper will stand by his man (or woman).
3. A Tory backbencher (most likely Rob Anders) will say something stupid. Hilarity will ensue!
4. The Liberals and NDP will have to cope with "anonymous insiders" complaining about existing and potential leaders.
5. The biggest political story of 2012 will likely surround a person or issue we're not even thinking about today.