Published Dec. 31, 2012, in The Waterloo Region Record.
It’s a hoary tradition. At New Year’s, pundits are supposed to look ahead and tell readers what to expect – or not – in the year to come. A wise reader won’t buy any of it. No one knows what is going to happen next week let alone 10 or 12 months from now.
A year ago, who would have predicted the devastating hurricane Sandy or the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School? Who would have predicted the United States Republican party would blow a presidential election it was favoured to win? Who would have predicted that the dim bulbs who run the National Hockey League would have allowed their arrogance, greed and ineptitude to lock out the players for the third time since 1994? For that matter, who would have predicted a year ago that by year’s end, the Toronto Blue Jays would be installed by Las Vegas bookies as favourites to win the 2013 World Series?
Setting such caveats aside, let’s see what may or may not lie ahead. These, I stress, are not predictions, just fuzzy expectations subject to recall without notice.
Let’s start with Ottawa. There will not be a federal election in 2013. The Tories have their majority and the next election isn’t scheduled until October 2015. Stephen Harper will be free to pursue his life’s work – transforming the Conservatives into Canada’s natural governing party. If that involves making Parliament more irrelevant than it already is – or driving the Liberals into the ground – well, who’s to stop him?
Speaking of the Liberals, they will gulp three times and make Justin Trudeau their leader in April, praying there is more to him than has hitherto met the eye. Martha Hall Findlay, a Toronto lawyer, former MP and failed leadership candidate (in 2006), will place second, ahead of Quebec MP and former astronaut Marc Garneau. The Harper party will launch a series of blistering attack ads against the entire Trudeau clan: father, son and family dog (if there is one).
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will bring down a budget with a larger than promised deficit. He will blame ordinary Canadians for not reducing their household debt.
The Conservatives will not proceed with the purchase of F-35 fighters in 2013. They will buy time by ordering more studies, hiring more accountants and enlisting more spin doctors to help them get their cover story, facts and figures reasonably straight before they announce a decision on the jets. Peter MacKay will survive as defence minister. No one outside Harper’s inner circle will understand why.
Stephen Harper will not hold a press conference in 2013. He doesn’t like journalists. He also will not invite provincial premiers to a federal-provincial conference. He doesn’t like crowded stages.
Five senators will reach retirement in 2013. The prime minister will somehow manage to find five worthy Tories to replace them.
There will be provincial elections. The Parti Quebecois will hold on in Quebec. The Liberals will lose British Columbia and Ontario. Tim Hudak will become premier and will promptly commission a statue of his mentor, Mike Harris, for the lawn at Queen’s Park. No one will remember who won the Ontario Liberal leadership in late January to succeed Dalton Who?
Rob Ford will still be mayor of Toronto, as mellow as ever.
Gun control will not happen, not in Canada and certainly not in the United States, where the National Rifle Association will preserve the fiction that it exists to defend the Second Amendment rather than admit what it really is. It’s a lucrative front for firearms manufacturers, importers, and retailers whose profits the NRA spends to buy politicians in order to defeat even the most pallid efforts to limit gun ownership.
Las Vegas will be proved right. The Blue Jays will win baseball’s World Series. The Toronto Maple Leafs will not will win the Stanley Cup, again. This last “expectation” has no best-before date. The others are good until, say, noon tomorrow.