Don Martin's 2019 predictions: Another Liberal majority, and Singh steps down
‘Tis the season to peer into a hazy political crystal ball to decipher the year ahead, despite my history of many wrong predictions.
The oncoming year is going to be an epic one for Canadian politics with a general election, a key provincial election, a pivotal byelection and plenty of economic jitters here and around the world.
Here’s how 2019 could roll out.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will lose a Burnaby byelection fight for a House of Commons seat in February, but defiantly vow to stay as leader. The NDP caucus revolts. After several incendiary weeks, Singh relents and steps down. Force of personality Nathan Cullen becomes leader on an emergency caucus vote.
The August trial of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman causes the government considerable embarrassment when the court rules they’re prosecuting the wrong guy for leaking cabinet information.
Building the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion resumes in July after consultations with Indigenous communities and a marine impact assessment wrap up. Court challenges are quickly filed to block the construction resumption.
That comes too late to help Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney wins a majority mandate in Alberta next May and immediately cancels the carbon tax.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau, confronted by signs of a looming recession, warns this is not the time for fiscal restraint and boosts deficit spending even higher in his spring budget. Conservative heads explode.
A limited national pharmacare program is announced in late spring with a catch – you’ve got to re-elect the Liberals to get it implemented in 2020.
The government decides it’s not worth the job losses and legal penalties to scrap the sale of Ontario-made armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia. The contract goes ahead.
And, saving the biggest prediction for last, yes there’ll be an election on Oct. 21.
The Trudeau Liberals will lose seats in Atlantic Canada and be wiped out in Alberta. But they will gain seats from the NDP in Quebec and benefit from a Doug Ford backlash in Ontario to cling to a narrow majority mandate over a late-surging Conservatives. The Green Party surprises by winning a handful of seats. The NDP barely clings to official party status. Maxime Bernier loses his seat as his People’s Party of Canada fails to land even one seat.
Of course, things will likely end up dramatically different. After all, a year ago did anyone see the rise of premiers Doug Ford in Ontario, Francois Legault in Quebec or Blaine Higgs in New Brunswick? Nope.
That’s because politics is the art of confounding predictability. And that’s what makes it so exciting to cover.
So that’s the Last Word of 2018 on 2019, all subject to change without notice.
Have a happy holiday.