It’s that time of year!
The time, that is, when columnists haul out their naughty and nice lists, and type up political winners and losers. And who am I to buck tradition?
So, herewith and heretofore, the political winners of 2022!
(The political losers column comes next. And being on the winners list, by the way, is no guarantee that you won’t also be on the losers list.)
Justin Trudeau. Yes, yes, we know. You don’t like him. I don’t like him, either. But by any political standard, the Liberal leader had a winning year: he just did.
He didn’t just win the Mississauga-Lakeshore byelection — his candidate, who was not without blemish, absolutely clobbered his Conservative opponent. And that’s in a riding that Doug Ford’s Conservatives won handily just a few months ago.
That’s not all: Trudeau’s Big Date with Destiny was supposed to be his appearance at the inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act in Ottawa and elsewhere. And not only did he not lose his cool during many hours of cross-examination, Trudeau did exceptionally well. He kicked ass, in fact.
Finally, Justin’s a winner for the most important reason of all: he is still standing. He still has power. He still is the prime minister who defeated three Tory leaders in a row.
And don’t be surprised if he goes on to defeat a fourth.
Pierre Poilievre. The Ottawa area MP didn’t just win his party’s leadership — he absolutely crushed the competition. And that competition included an actual former Conservative leader, Jean Charest, who is a pretty accomplished and respected politician.
Since he became leader, Poilievre has pulled back from the Freedumb Convoy and Bitcoin and conspiracy theory nonsense, and he hasn’t had a single caucus bimbo eruption — and, for the Tories, that’s a pretty big achievement.
Predictions that he would be facing an election with a divided party — and I was one who made such a prediction — were completely wrong. His party looks to be quite united behind him, and getting ready for an election that could come at any time now.
Joe Biden. Full disclosure: I worked for Biden on his presidential race, so I’m a bit biased when it comes to the 46th president. But I think I’m entirely justified in admiring the guy so much: like my former boss Jean Chretien, Biden is consistently underestimated by his opponents, and then he consistently exceeds expectations.
Everyone thought that he would get clobbered in the midterms, but he didn’t. He actually increased his party’s standing in the Senate, and he kept the Republicans to a puny number of victories in the House of Representatives. He may be as old as Methuselah, but he’s as smart as Methuselah. Discount Biden at your peril.
Premiers Doug Ford, John Horgan, Francois Legault. The three men who lead, or led, our three biggest provinces were wildly successful. Ford got reelected with a bigger majority, Quebec’s Legault got reelected with a big majority, and B.C.’s Horgan left his party in better shape than he found it — and said party is still governing. While our national leadership is often uninspiring, these three men — whatever their faults — knew how to win, when they needed to win.
Incumbents. If there’s one thing the pandemic taught us, it’s that Canadian voters don’t like changing horses midstream. Incumbent leaders — particularly at the municipal level — held onto power and easily defeated any and all challengers.
Mayor John Tory in Toronto – and his counterparts, Bonnie Crombie in Mississauga, Patrick Brown in Brampton, Valerie Plante in Montreal – and so on: all of these leaders revealed themselves to be solid performers during the pandemic, and voters rewarded them accordingly.
We could go on — and that’s a good thing — but we don’t want you to think that I’m too positive. There’s lots of negative stuff to remind you about, too.
That comes in the next column!