The holiday season: A time to get together with family, play Scrabble, imbibe responsibly, and give thanks.
And, if you are a member of the commentariat, to go out on a snow-covered limb and recklessly make predictions about the year to come.
Herewith and heretofore, 10 reckless predictions about 2011:
1. Election 2011: If it happens, it’ll happen in the spring — simply because too many fall provincial elections will be taking place in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, P.E.I., Newfoundland and Labrador and the Northwest Territories. If it happens, too, it’ll only be because Stephen Harper and (insert Opposition leader name here) favours it. Lotsa cowardly “ifs,” there. But if Harper sees winning conditions for his Reformatories — and losing ones for the Liberals — he’ll go for it.
2. And the winner will be…: Nobody, actually. For years, now, polls have reflected a simple reality: They don’t like the Tories enough to give them a majority — and they don’t trust the Grits, yet, to form even a minority government. The question on everyone’s lips, therefore, will be: Why the hell have an election?
3. Because a galvanizing issue can emerge! The North American “perimeter” deal. An unforeseen economic plunge. A spike in crime. A calamity on the battlefields of Afghanistan. In politics, there are always any number of issues out there, at any time, which can bring budding political careers to a speedy end. Personally, I think the secret perimeter pact is a big vote-winner for the Liberals — which means they won’t say a word about it.
4. Stephen Harper will play piano again. Because it works.
5. The provinces will beat up on Ottawa. Because so many of them will be facing voters — and because so many of them are facing big deficits — incumbent provincial governments will start to swing wildly at the feds, and the club they will use will be health care. With health costs gobbling up so much of their treasuries, and with an aging population, that only makes sense. In Ontario, Manitoba and P.E.I. — where Liberal or New Democrat governments hold sway — expect to see all Conservatives portrayed as health-care privatizers and profiteers.
6. Post-election, leadership races will abound. If nearing-retirement-age Michael Ignatieff loses badly, he won’t wait 10 minutes to announce his return to academe. Jack Layton, too, will have endured four federal campaigns by then, and will be understandably eyeing the exits. And if a parliamentary majority again eludes Harper? He is too feared for anyone in his party to attempt a coup — so if he goes, it’ll be because he knows he has become part of the problem, not the solution.
7. Ignatieff will look unhappy. Because, most days, he is.
8. Coalition? What coalition? The time for Messrs. Ignatieff and Layton to have discussed co-operation/coalition/merger — take your pick — was months ago. If they do so now, Harper — fearing the result — will cook up a pretext for a quickie campaign, to stop it (as Paul Martin should’ve done, but didn’t, in 2004). If the Grit and Dipper leaders wait until after a Spring 2011 election, they’ll be successfully accused (again) of attempting to overturn the just-completed election result. Co-operation/coalition/merger, therefore, ain’t happening anytime soon.
9. Scandal-mongering will persist. But it won’t work — because it rarely does. Look at what happened in Toronto’s recent mayoralty race: Rob Ford’s mugshot was on the front page of every paper. He confessed to drunk driving and a drug charge and being too rough. All in one week! Result: He won a massive landslide. Bottom line: Nobody cares about scandal stuff, except the media and the politicians. So they’ll keep braying and screeching about it.
10. As mad as they make us, we’ll keep reading about our politicians. Because — face it — Ottawa is Hollywood for ugly people.
— Kinsella is a lawyer, consultant and Liberal Party spin-doctor. He blogs at warrenkinsella.com