It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. And this year, the worst moments inadvertently resulted in some of the best moments, too.
As 2015 beckons, and 2014 recedes, Sun News Network asked some of us to assemble some thoughts about the year’s best and worst political moments. As we did so, this thought occurred: in 2014, the best and the worst were inextricably linked.
THE WORST MOMENT: On October 22, 2014, terrorist Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot and killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo at the Canadian War Memorial in Ottawa. Two days before, extremist Martin Couture-Rouleau drove his car into Canadian Armed Forces members in Saint Jean sur Richelieu, killing Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. The murders of Cirillo and Vincent shocked the nation – and the attack on Parliament Hill left every Parliamentarian shaken. For Canada, that terrible week in October signaled an important change in our politics, and the national mood. Our preoccupation with other issues diminished – and our focus on terrorism, and the just and apposite effort against ISIS, greatly magnified. But out of that grim week came something good, too…
THE BEST MOMENT: Anyone with a passing acquaintance with Question Period comes away disenchanted, or worse. The antics that go on there, on a regular basis, have helped to contribute to too many voters turning away from democracy. But, in the wake of the tragic deaths of Vincent and Cirillo, Parliamentarians – appearing in shock and therefore human – set aside partisan differences and came together. Many of us never thought we would see Messrs. Harper, Mulcair or Trudeau agree on anything. But there they were, embracing one another in the Commons, and appearing – for once – at a loss for words. It showed them in a deeply emotional moment, and it reflected well on them all.
THE BEST DECISION: The decision of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau to eject MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti from his caucus in the first week of November could not have been easy. After summarily expelling Liberal Senators from his caucus in January, he did not have many caucus members left to spare. But the allegations of sexual misconduct – coming from victims Trudeau would not identify, about allegations he would not specify – was a singular moment in the young leader’s tenure. There was no political “upside” in making the decision he did – except that it made him look decisive, moral and therefore Prime Ministerial. It was, to date, his finest moment. But out of it came…
THE WORST (IN)DECISION: The inability of Parliamentarians to deal effectively with two cases of alleged sexual harassment – they, the very people who dictate codes of conduct to everyone else – was appalling. It was a disgrace. And, in the wake of Trudeau’s shining moment of clarity, came the muck and grime of accusation and counter-accusation by Opposition MPs. As the affair spiraled ever-downward – and as Andrews and Pacetti remained in a lawless limbo, and their alleged NDP victims were demonized by anonymous sources – Canadians could be forgiven for shaking their collective heads. Only Prime Minister Stephen Harper seemed to emerge unscathed from the sordid mess.
THE COMEBACK: It is hard to point to a single policy decision that accounts for it – but Harper ends the year as many Canadians’ favoured choice for Prime Minister. The polls indeed lie, these days. But many polls, taken together, do not: the Conservatives leader, once a goner, is back in contention.
THE FALLEN-BACK: Thomas Mulcair is no Jack Layton, and Justin Trudeau is no Pierre Trudeau. As Harper (but not his party) has edged upwards, Trudeau (but not his party) has edged down. As the Liberals have grown more popular, New Democrats have become far less so.
All of it makes for a year that was simultaneously inspiring and uninspiring. Let’s hope that 2015 – an election year – sees a lot more of the former, and far less of the latter.
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Sun News has asked me and Lala what we think are the best, worst, etc. political moments in 2014. The quickie list below ris my first stab at it.
What’s yours? Comments are open!
BEST MOVE – Parties coming together post-shooting
WORST MOVE – Politicizing sexual harassment on Hill
MOST SURPRISING – Liberal wins in PQ and Ontario
MOST IMPROVED – Harper – he ain’t dead yet
MOST DISAPPOINTING – Trudeau open nominations
NEWSMAKER – Trudeau – nobody makes news like he does, for good or bad
So sayeth the great Bette Davis.
A music biz friend tells me he’s happy because only one of kids isn’t talking to him this Christmas; a law school friend tells me one of his kids refers to him as a well-known former German dictator. As such, I’m starting to get the sense I’m not alone on this one.
Anyone out there got stories you want to share, anonymously? If nothing else, we can all get together for a drink over the holidays and share some Rodney Dangerfield jokes about parenting (viz. “I could tell my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.”)
Dear Parental Units: RT this if one of your teenagers isn’t talking to you this Christmas. Signed, Frustrated Father
— Warren Kinsella (@kinsellawarren) December 17, 2014
As she contemplates The End, Danielle Smith should give Peter MacKay a call. He might tell her what happens to your political career when you let the other guy dictate the terms of surrender.
…is the one you’ll see between Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair, agreeing that there should be as many leadership debates as possible. And you know why.
Story by iPolitics on that, and other stuff, here.
…and, on this day of pure evil, here is a partial list of those who said we should negotiate with the Taliban, and the one entity who said we shouldn’t. Feel free to add to the lists in comments.
Negotiate with the Taliban:
- The New Democratic Party
- Barack Obama
- Thomas Mulcair
- Canadian Council of Churches
- Adam Radwanski, Globe
- Tom Walkom, Star
- Too many Canadians
Don’t negotiate with the Taliban:
For we Westerners, few things are as frustrating as awaiting the results on election night.
In years past, it’s been infuriating, watching the TV meat puppets declare a winner before polls have even closed past the Lakehead.
In 2015, unfortunately, that’s unlikely to change.
Individual polls lie, these days. But many surveys, taken over many months, give us some reliable insight into election night outcomes – region by region.
ATLANTIC: Liberal leader Justin Trudeau owns Atlantic Canada. Here, Trudeau is the man to beat, and he is going to be tough to beat. In the half-dozen polls that have been conducted in the Atlantic in recent weeks, in fact, Trudeau has registered support in excess of 50 per cent. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives can lay claim to only half that amount – while the New Democrats are favoured by about one-in-five.
This is no flash in the pan: Trudeau’s Grits have been registering big levels of support for months, and can reasonably expect to take the region in 2015. It’s worth recalling, however, that John Turner did likewise in 1988, winning far more of the Atlantic popular vote than Brian Mulroney. And Mulroney still went on to capture a huge Parliamentary majority.
QUEBEC: As always, there are two Quebecs: the one that is the Island of Montreal, and the one that isn’t. On the former, Trudeau again dominates.
The greater Montreal area is home to the majority of the province’s non-francophones, and it is here that Trudeau enjoys extraordinary levels of support. In Montreal, up to 75 per cent of the electorate have signaled their intention to vote for the youthful Liberal leader. The Liberals outpace the New Democrats two-to-one in Montreal, and enjoy a hefty three-to-one advantage over the Conservatives.
Off the island, it’s a different story. Polling firms such as CROP, Angus Reid and Leger have all lately declared the NDP more popular than the Grits among francophones, and in the rest of Quebec. Similarly, these voters see New Democrat leader Thomas Mulcair as the best choice for Prime Minister. If the NDP runs a strong campaign in Quebec, Mulcair could easily emerge with about as many seats in la belle province as Trudeau – about 35 – with Harper taking less than ten.
THE WEST: As with previous Liberal leaders, Trudeau has repeatedly signaled his desire to win many more seats in the West. As with previous Liberal leaders, however, he’s unlikely to do so.
Unlike 2011, Manitoba is now more receptive to the Liberal Party, but pollsters like Ipsos suggest that the Conservatives still maintain a double-digit lead there. Elsewhere – specifically in Alberta and Saskatchewan – a synthesis of polling results show the Conservatives with an even greater lead. Historically, Alberta and Saskatchewan have been the Tory heartland, and that’s not going to change now. Only in B.C. is an across-the-board race underway, with all three national parties in a tight three-way fight.
ONTARIO: There’s a reason why we skipped over Ontario. As in 2011, it’s where the 2015 election outcome is going to be decided.
That’s why Stephen Harper has lately been spending more time – and spending more of your money – in Ontario. It’s paying dividends, too: outside Toronto, Trudeau’s Liberals have been declining in recent weeks, and Harper’s Conservatives have been trending up. Toronto itself is indisputably Fortress Liberal – but outside Toronto, in the suburbs and beyond, Harper is favoured.
In 2011, the Harper Conservatives won their majority in Ontario, taking an astonishing 73 seats. As things stand now, they’re unlikely to repeat that feat – but seat projections taken from a massive and recent Ipsos poll, for instance, suggest Harper will still win more Ontario seats than Trudeau or Mulcair.
It could be Spring election, or a Fall election. It could be a majority or a minority government.
But one thing’s for sure:
Westerners will be frustrated by it all, yet again.