It that time of year again, folks! That time of year when lazy scribes get busy putting together their top stories of the year for their retrospective end-of-year piece. In this case, it’s the stories, people, laws, scandals, senatorial or otherwise (with the retirement of former Conservative Minister Vic “Vickie-Leaks” Toews, sex scandals are in short supply, sadly!), that made the corridors of power in O-Town buzz and the publicists, spin-doctors and high-paid hacks that now run our political system wring their proverbial hands with worry!
2013 is destined to be remembered for arguably the biggest crisis that the Harper government has experienced since it came to power back in ’06. Prior to revelations involving the expense fraud of Duff Man, the Brazman, Pammy “The Honourable Senator for Manhattan” Wallin and Mac “Seal hugger” Harb, Harper and his government had managed to avoid many of the fiscal and criminal scandals that recent federal governments invariably suffer during their mandate (i.e. Airbus, Sponsorship, etc.). Though, for those of us paying attention, there were others that set off alarm bells, including the In-Out election spending scheme of the 2006 and the robocall voter suppression scandal of the last elections, to mention a couple.
But with the growing problem of an inexplicably absent Prime Minister at the heart of a major criminal investigation into the actions of his inner circle of advisors and hatchet men (i.e. Nigel Wright) by the men in red, Harper appears to be bearing the brunt of the public outrage over this mess. Make no mistake, the federal Tories and their previously Teflon leader are in way over their heads this time and will wear this one into the 2015 elections and possibly beyond.
In a related story, Tom Mulcair, the leader of the Federal NDP, established himself as the king of Question Period with his brilliant prosecutorial style and his blunt line of questioning on the connections between the Prime Minister’s Office and the cover-up of Senator Duffy’s illegal transaction with Nigel Wright. It has been noted by many a cynic in the media and elsewhere that such performances do not score many points with the general public who usually tune out the House of Commons.
It remains to be seen whether this will translate into greater support for the NDP in the next election. But, if nothing else, this has distinguished him very nicely from Justin Trudeau who has been lagging behind his main rival on challenging the government in the House, preferring to concentrate on the kind of retail politics outside the Ottawa bubble that are rapidly becoming his trademark.
Speaking of the current golden boy of Canadian politics (these things typically don’t last, if you don’t believe me look at the sorry state of Gerard Kennedy’s career), you’ve got to admit that Trudeau’s mojo has been growing ever since he crushed his opponents in the farcical Liberal leadership race back in April. He stumped for his candidates in recent by-elections and the results indicated that the Trudeau effect has helped the Liberals gain some inroads in Brandon-Souris (Manitoba) and retain their current number of seats by fending off strong campaigns by the NDP in Bourassa and Toronto-Centre (and then promptly rubbing their noses in it, in very classy fashion). If the current favourable polling trends continue, expect Trudeau Junior to go from strength to strength in the next couple of years, leading up to the general election in 2015.
Remember the Bloc? The separatist party that dominated Quebec Federal politics since 1993. Well, in case you didn’t notice, they’re in a severe tailspin with zero hope of recovery at the moment. At the risk of dancing on the grave of the still barely alive political party, the death of the party in the next election (if not sooner) is now inevitable.
They lost Maria Mourani, one of a rump caucus that used to count 48 Members, over their decision to back Pauline Marois and the Quebec government’s ever controversial Quebec Values Charter. They registered a pitiful 13% of the vote in Bourassa, and just last week came the coup de grâce: their leader, Daniel Paillé, resigned suddenly for health reasons (not that many noticed), seemingly without any credible replacement lined up.
No end of the year list would be complete without a nod to the Fordzilla fiasco in Toronto. The monster that is reportedly running amok in a crack and alcohol fueled rage at Nathan Phillips square downtown, is devouring everything in his path. He appears to be headed for Ottawa next, where he is expected to do even more damage to the Conservative spin-doctor frankensteins that helped unleash this twisted creature on and unsuspecting public in 2007 and defended him until it became apparent he was becoming a major political liability.
Here’s hoping that next year’s federal political stories, be they good, bad or ugly, keep us all half as enthralled, as this year’s did. Amen!