Thursday, January 05, 2012

What to Expect in 2012

2011 was an eventful year in Canadian politics. We were treated to a historic federal election in the Spring, and five provincial elections in the Fall. Alison Redford and Christy Clark defeated the establishment in hotly contested leadership races, while Fran├žois Legault put everyone on notice in Quebec. Jack Layton passed away, the Michael Ignatieff experiment imploded, the Bloc was obliterated, and Stephen Harper locked himself in a bathroom.

So what's in store in 2012?

The Government

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.

Provincial Politics

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 Fran├žois Legault's new party flounders.

Ontario is now home to Canada's only minority government, so an election there is possible, though unlikely.

International Politics

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.

Other Happenings

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.


  • On my end, I'd expect a Quebec election sooner than you, possibly in May or June of this year. The public hearings for the Charbonneau inquiry should begin next Fall, with the potential of clouding the whole political landscape with dirt, and I think that Jean Charest will want to hold an election before then. The risk of a repeat of the federal Liberal defeat as fallout of the Gomery inquiry is too high, and Charest is aware of that.

    By Anonymous Doctacosa, at 9:17 AM  

  • Excellent post. But I think you've left off the biggest international stories of 2012.
    #1 This is the year Iran gets the bomb unless stopped by sanctions, sabotage or military strikes (or a combination of the above).

    #2 This is the year the Muslim Brotherhood takes over most of the Arab world.

    By Blogger Brian Henry, at 10:01 AM  

  • Doctacosa: You may be correct. Charest has shown a willingness to jump early, and there's an argument to be made that it makes sense sense to go before Charbonneau, before Legault gets organized, and while the PQ is in tatters.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:06 PM  

  • "killing the gun registry","abolishing the wheat board" and "killed the Census".

    Three lies. Not bad for such a short summary.

    The gun registry remains intact, despite Liberal rhetoric to the contrary. The long-gun registry, however, is gone.

    The Wheat Board continues to exist. What they've lost is their monopoly.

    And the Census continues to exist in the same form and with the same legal requirements as ever. The household survey (or so-called long-form census), however, no longer carries legal threats for failure to complete (it). And despite the cries of doom and gloom, Statisticians are confident in the data it has made available to them.

    Respect for the facts seems a low expectation.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:18 AM  

  • Anonymous is right.

    Since accurate language means adding just a single word or two in most cases it isn't that hard to make the switch from the politicized language.

    Plus, if ever the government really does kill the census, gun registry and wheat board we'll be able to say so without looking like liars.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 11:03 AM  

  • Perhaps it's too small a province to be mentioned here, but there are a lot of rumours floating around in NS that Dexter will call an early provincial election (the last one was in June 2009) to take advantage of the polling boost his NDP government received after the Halifax Shipyard won that enormous shipbuilding contract this year and from his solid performance dealing with the shutdown of a plant in Port Hawkesbury. Dexter insists they will go 4 years to 2013, but rumours abound nonetheless.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:23 PM  

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