Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 10 Stories of 2013

Over the course of twelve months a number of stories have captured my attention. If internet trends are to believed numbered lists are quite popular at the moment, so I thought I would embrace the format for my final post of 2013.

#10 - Ontario’s Five By-Elections

In August 2013 five by-elections were called in the province of Ontario. The three provincial parties fought tooth and nail to shape the narrative in the aftermath of the election. Five Liberal incumbents, all former cabinet ministers, retired, triggering the political contests. Two of the seats were won by the ONDP, two by the Liberals and one by the Progressive Conservatives. Despite the Liberals losing three strong seats the narrative in the media shifted to a PC loss and NDP victory. Here was my take

#9 - Lac-Megantic Train Accident

The town of Lac-Megantic is still recovering from the disastrous industrial accident that devastated the small Quebec town. The disaster has raised serious questions about industrial regulation and safety in Canada.

#8 - Idle No More

The Idle No More movement began in 2012 but its effects have continued to be felt in the country. The proposed Aboriginal education legislation is evidence that despite efforts to push the federal government into meaningful discussions has been ignored. Protest has continued across First Nations communities. Here is my take

#7 - Big Move Stopped

I am not sure there is any leader who believes that the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area is not in need of desperate of investment in transit. The Big Move plan has struggled to get off the ground for a lack of funding. This is one of the major policy questions facing the province and inaction on the file is chronic.

#6 - British Columbia’s Provincial Election

In April the British Columbia general election delivered a shocking upset victory for the BC Liberals. Polls and pundits expected the BC NDP to do well and Adrian Dix to become the province’s next Premier. But on election night the voters returned the Christy Clark government.

#5 - Natural Resources and the Environment

These kinds of stories appear in the local media of the Northwest Territories all the time. There are serious concerns about the development of our natural resources and the impact it has on the environment, and by extension, our health. From fracking protests in New Brunswick to water contamination in the Arctic there are clear consequences to this form of economic development.

#4 - Justin Trudeau becomes Liberal leader

As much as I may dislike Justin Trudeau, his selection as Liberal leader has had a dramatic impact on the standings of the parties. The Liberals now lead in the polls, buoyed by Conservative scandal and the appeal of Trudeau.

#3 - The Reform Act

Michael Chong’s (CPC - Wellington-Halton Hills, ON) private member’s bill to change the way leaders maintain the confidence of the House of Commons has triggered a fascinating debate about Members of Parliament, the division of power, and political leadership. It will continue to be a story in the new year, but also represents discontent within the House.

#2 - Rob Ford’s Ongoing Saga

Rob Ford. Sigh. Certainly the most outrageous story in Canada this year. We watched in rapt fascination as an elected official dragged a city deep into the mire of his own personal demons.

#1 - Senate-PMO Scandal

With an ongoing criminal investigation, and deep unhappiness within the public regarding this scandal, this could be a major weight around the Conservatives’ necks going forward. Thomas Mulcair continues to press the attack on this issue very effectively, and Conservative supporters and MPs are increasingly unhappy. Depending how it all plays out it could be the end of the Harper government and it certainly demonstrates the paranoid, controlling nature of the PMO and how it has backfired.

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