Monday, December 31, 2018

Crystal Ball Gazing: (Mainly) Political Predictions for 2019

It's been a few years since my last end-of-year "Crystal Ball Gazing" blog (although in the summer of 2017, I did manage to successfully predict just how Greater Sudbury Council would, via a tie vote, end up selecting the Kingsway for the site of a new arena - see: "Crystal Ball Gazing: How Sudbury Gets a New Kingsway Event Centre - Not on Merit, but on a Technicality," Sudbury Steve May, June 27, 2017).  Despite nailing that one prediction a few hours before the vote, my track record with predictions has been far from stellar.  No matter.  This is a fun way to end the year, and with some pretty big events scheduled to happen in 2019, I'll take another kick at the can.

The Federal Election

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Look for a return of Justin Trudeau and the Liberals with a new majority government in October, 2019 - but one that has been slightly reduced.  The Conservative Party will make some inroads in the west, in Ontario (the GTA and eastern Ontario) and Atlantic Canada, but it won't be enough for the Cons in the face of a collapsed NDP vote that largely shifts to the Liberals for strategic reasons.  Maxime Bernier's new party will also siphon off enough Con support to ensure Trudeau's return - although Bernier will lose his own seat in Beauce, and his party will fail to elect a single candidate.

Greens might take some solace in seeing Elizabeth May returned to the House accompanied by two new B.C.-based MP's (and having had a few other candidates show strong second-place finishes in B.C. and New Brunswick).  But 3 MP's will prove a disappointment for a Party that sees Green fortunes rising around the world, but can do little to tap into the same sentiment here in Canada, in part thanks to our antique First Past the Post electoral system.  Before the year is out, May will announce her pending departure as Party leader in 2020, although she will stay on as MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh won't fare as well.  After losing a by-election in Burnaby to Liberal candidate Karen Wang (see: "Karen Wang wins Liberal nomination in Burnaby South to take on NDP leader Jagmeet Singh," the Canadian Press, December 29, 2018), the knives come out and the NDP dump Singh as leader.  Through a hasty process that ends up sidelining New Democratic members, caucus selects Nathan Cullen as interim leader, only to see Cullen lead the Party to losses in October.  While New Democrats manage to largely hold on to seats in Ontario and B.C., they are completely ousted from Quebec and make no gains in Atlantic Canada, falling behind the Green Party in many ridings in that region (outside of Newfounland and Labrador where the Greens remain dead as doornails).

The election is a nasty affair, and while immigration, the economy and climate change seem to be the big issues, for the most part the election is fought on the basis of personalities and tribalism.  With the progressive left once again rallying behind the Liberals despite past betrayals, the Liberals again manage to elect a new government in October - but the nation is more divided at the end of 2019 than ever before.

Alberta Election

In Alberta, despite a brilliant campaign by NDP Premier Rachel Notley, the Jason Kenney's United Conservative Party emerges victorious.  Kenny himself, though, is beaten up by the election, with many of his past anti-LGBTQ musings having come to light.  The UCP - flirting with white surpremacists and Big Oil (ok, actually WAY more than flirting), is tarnished as an institution and takes power under a cloud of corruption and concerns over tolerance.  

Notley's NDP isn't completely wiped out, and she stays on as Leader.  But with a UCP majority government in place, the blitz is on to destroy a lot of the good work that Notley's government accomplished over its 4-year term.  The UCP's first order of business, though, will be to kill Alberta's climate change plan and replace it with - nothing (at least not in 2019).  Albertans are outraged in late 2019 when it becomes clear (after a new Liberal majority government comes into power federally) that the feds will be applying the now $30 per tonne federal carbon price backstop to Alberta.  There is rioting in the streets of Calgary.

Oh - and about that federal back-stop.  Canada's courts will rule in 2019 that the feds have every right to price carbon in provincial jurisdictions that are not themselves applying a price on pollution. 

PEI Election
PEI Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker

Despite Peter Bevan-Baker's Green Party leading in polls in advance of the PEI provincial election, Premier Wade MacLauchlan's Liberal Party is returned with a strong majority government - thanks in part to the collapse of the PEI Progressive Conservative Party.  Green support, while strong in certain areas, proves to be thin on the ground throughout too much of the Province - and as a result, MacLauchlan's Liberals receive a stronger mandate from Islanders.  A small Green caucus forms the Official Opposition, but Bevan-Baker resigns as leader near the end of 2019 - with ambitions to lead the federal Green Party.  Green MLA Hannah Bell, easily returned to her seat, takes over the reigns as the leader of the Official Opposition.
PEI Green Hannah Bell

U.S. Presidential Nominations

With Donald Trump mired in controversy throughout 2019, thanks in part to Robert Mueller's investigation being made public in the early spring, Republicans decide that they are going to contest Trump's nomination for 2020.  Look for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio to start rumbling about taking on Trump for the nomination (although there will be other contenders).

On the Democratic side, by the end of 2019, there will be no clear single contender for the Presidential nomination, although the field of serious potential candidates might be whittled down to just a few who have what it takes.  Look for Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren to emerge as two of the more serious contenders.  Warrens is already signalling her intention to run - and if I suspect that she just might emerge victorious in 2020 if she does so (see: "Elizabeth Warren Takes Major Step Toward a 2020 Presidential Run," Bloomberg, December 31, 2018).  Democrats will continue to try to twist Oprah Winfrey's arm to have her throw her hat in the ring - with no success.

Hilary Clinton will wisely opt out of seeking the nomination, but look for a return of Bernie Sanders - although Sanders will be forced to drop out of the race by the end of 2019, due to a lack of funds.  Sanders will champion The Green New Deal, with Warren providing lukewarm support - but many non-aligned voters will be looking to the U.S. Green Party, which might be under new leadership by the end of 2019, as Dr. Jill Stein resigns to make way for a bigger, more familiar name from Hollywoodland. 

Gilets Jaune

As 2018 comes to an end, the Gilets Jaune protests that rocked European cities have already begun to wind down.  But we can expect a significant degree of destabilization of established governments in the U.K. (thanks to a disastrous Brexit and the fall of Theresa May's government - only to be replaced by an unstable Conservative minority government led by Boris Johnston), France and Italy. 

Greens are on the rise in Germany, however, and continue to capture progressive voters throughout the nation.  

But the Gilets Jaune are a splintered force in Europe by the early months of 2019 - with the right-wingers and left-wingers dividing the spoils and heading their separate ways.  Unfortunately, the same is not true in North America, where the right-wing racist Yellow Vests remain a blight on the nation throughout 2019.  However, even Conservative politicians like Saskatchewan's Premier Scott Moe and Alberta's incoming Premier, Jason Kenney - are forced to publicly distance themselves from the racists (but not until Kenney is damaged by his flirtation). 


Look for big changes in Ontario.  With Premier Doug Ford on a rampage, the Ontario government will undo a decade's worth of progress made under the former Liberal administration.  The March budget will see the Ontario civil service cut to a significant degree.  It will also lay the groundwork for significant privatization of health care in the Province.  Also on the chopping block: environmental legislation, including the Environmental Bill of Rights and the Endangered Species Act.  By the end of 2019, the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks will be cut to the bone.
Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner

While Ford and his Conservative MP's will continue to be dogged by controversies and legal problems stemming from the 2018 provincial election (and pre-election candidate nomination), there will be little that Ontario's opposition parties can do.  With the Liberals rebuilding, and an ineffective New Democratic Party that long ago lost its way (and with leader Andrea Horwarth finally stepping down to make way for someone new), look for the Green Party of Ontario's Mike Schreiner to be a go-to person for media - but that's about it.  Schreiner, trying to be too many things at the same time in the progressive political void, might find a degree of wider publicity, but he needs to be careful lest he continue to alienate his base as he did with several small mis-steps near the end of 2018 (which included his support for the PC's 'back to work' legislation aimed at upending power worker's right to strike). 

British Columbia
B.C. Premier John Horgan

Despite MP Sheila Malcolmson winning a crucial by-election in Nanaimo (see: "Nanaimo Byelection Could Change Balance of Power in British Columbia," the Tyee, December 27, 2018),  NDP Premier John Horgan's government will fall before the end of summer, as Andrew Weaver's Green Party pulls its 'supply and confidence' support over the NDP's lack of a plan to address climate impacts from the publicly-subsidized LNG sector.  With a massive defeat for electoral reform, thanks in part to a wonky referendum (see: "B.C. proportional representation proposal seemed almost tailor-made for failure," Kirk Lapointe, BIV, December 20, 2018).

But Horgan will be back as Premier with a larger minority government, as Andrew Weaver's Greens are wiped out across the Province (despite some very strong showings by candidates in a dozen ridings).  The BC Greens political fortunes will resonate later in the year with a disappointing showing for the federal Greens in a national election (although as predicted above, Green leader Elizabeth May will be joined by a couple of new federal Green MPs).

Look for the resignation of both Weaver and B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson by year's end. 

New Brunswick

New Brunswickers will once again head to the polls in 2019, as Progressive Conservative Premier Brian Gallant's shaky new government falls like a house of cards.  I'm not going to  predict what the impetus for the government's fall might be, but I suspect it will have something to do with the ambitions of People's Alliance Party, and their sense that a new election will see more of their candidates returned as MLA's.  They will be proven right - but they'll be relegated to the opposition benches as a Liberal minority government under a new leader is returned to power - supported by a 'supply and confidence' agreement with a reduced-caucus New Brunswick Green Party.  That government makes it out of 2019, but accomplishes very little in the face of falling apart at any given moment.

Newfoundland and Labrador
NL PC leader Ches Crosbie

Liberal Premier Dwight Ball is done.  Look for Progressive Conservative leader Ches Crosby, son of home-province hero and former federal cabinet minister John Crosbie, to be Newfoundland and Labrador's next premier.  But the Muskrat Falls spending debacle will continue to spiral out of control - to the detriment of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Trans Mountain Pipeline

 In a hasty review of indigenous issues and orcas, the National Energy Board once again greenlights the Trans Mountain Pipeline - just in time for the Liberals to campaign vigorously on their new 'approval' of the pipeline.  But the NEB's decision will once again be challenged in the courts, and there will be no resolution of the matter in 2019.

The Continuing Erosion of Charter Rights

When anyone's Charter Rights are put at risk, everyone's Charter Rights are put at risk.  It's 2019, and we can expect - thanks to right-wing extremists in power in the U.S., Europe and provincially here in Canada - the hard-fought rights of women and the LGBTQ community to continue to be eroded (see: "Rising populism threatens LGBTQ in West and around the world," the Globe and Mail, December 29, 2018).  Look for anti-women and anti-minority initiatives in Alberta and Ontario.  Would Doug Ford really shut down Ontario's Human Rights Commission?  Just watch him - as we continue to watch his flirtations with white supremacist fascists like Faith Goldy (see: "Doug Ford and Faith Goldy — what’s wrong with this picture?" Martin Regg Cohn, the Toronto Star, September 24, 2018)  and Charles McVety (see: "Ford’s closeness with controversial evangelical pastor is problematic," Michael Coren, iPolitics, December 4, 2018) and his controversial move to roll-back the province's sex education curriculum to the last century (see: "Northern Ontario pride organizations looking to file human rights complaints over sex-ed curriculum rollback," CBC News, July 18, 2018).  In Quebec, what can only be described as a racist government in the form of Francois Legault's Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) is hell-bent on destroying the rights of religious minorities (see: "Downtown Montreal anti-racism demonstration draws 3,000," the Montreal Gazette, October 8, 2018).  Expect to hear more about the use of the 'Notwithstanding Clause' in our Constitution as the vehicle of choice for right-wing extremists in government to stomp on Charter Rights.

Greater Sudbury

Here in Greater Sudbury, expect more of the same throughout 2019 - with a few caveats - including some intra-personal conflicts on Council that broil over for reasons that have little to do with Council business.

Sudburians are excited about the appointment of an Integrity Commissioner, and take full advantage of the appointment.  Several investigations in municipal Councillor activity are launched - including online bullying by Councillors and the use of position on Council to solicit funds from local businesses.  The bullying investigation wraps up with only recommendations for a stronger social media code of conduct for all municipal employees.  Other investigations drag on and are not resolved in 2019.
Ward 2 Councillor Michael Vagnini

Internally, the City's review of the recent municipal election fiasco reveals that the City did nothing wrong, and many of the issues with the election (including with the voter's list and the need to extend the election by another day due to the collapse of the online voting platform) were beyond the City's control.  Despite this, Councillor Vagnini will continue to accuse the City of corruption and mismanagement, taking square aim at Mayor Bigger over the first part of 2019.  In the summer, Vagnini becomes the Conservative Party's nominated candidate for the Sudbury riding - a riding that he will fail to take from Liberal MP Paul Lefebvre in the October federal election (although he will have the best showing of any recent Con candidate in Sudbury).
Nickel Belt MP Marc Serre

On a related note, Nickel Belt MP Marc Serre is returned to Ottawa in the 2019 federal election with an even bigger mandate, thanks largely to his own local popularity with an assist from the national collapse of the NDP.

The Kingsway Entertainment District will be an on-going saga throughout 2019, but mostly not at the Council table.  With public opinion turning against the KED and the downtown Arts Junction, Council will largely remain tone-deaf to the signals coming from the public that these projects are unaffordable.  Those concerns, however, might be offset by a pre-election promise for federal funding for the new arena, by a Liberal government more than a little nervous about a Vagnini-run unseating Lefebvre.

But at the end of 2019, we still won't know whether the Kingsway will be the site of the new arena.  With the appeals at the Local Planning and Appeals Tribunal (LPAT) currently on hold pending the outcome of a divisional court review of matters related to the City of Toronto's Rail Deck Park and the powers and authority of the new LPAT, I anticipate that the appeals will be further held up by a new reference to divisional court specifically emanating from the Sudbury appeals.  The LPAT is presently being asked by the parties to the appeals to determine what its jurisdiction is over a number of fundamental things - including whether Party's can file responses to Reply Case Synopses - and whether the LPAT's jurisdiction for making decisions extends beyond simply reviewing a municipal land use decision on the basis of inconsistency with provincial policy, provincial plans and municipal official plans.  Motions have been filed by just about all of the parties.  Expect some or all of these matters to end up in front of divisional court - either via a losing party, or, more likely in my opinion, from the LPAT itself - as it did with questions of jurisdiction in Rail Deck - since these matters now being brought up in Sudbury will impact how the LPAT hears all future hearing events.

Related: a motion to dismiss the appeal of the Minnow Lake Restoration Group made by the landowner, Dario Zulich, will prove to be unsuccessful - so for all of those hoping to see John Lindsay and his concerns about salt loading in Ramsey Lake knocked out of the hearing process - it's not going to happen.  John and the Minnow Lake people will be there when the actual hearing gets underway in the late fall of 2019.

Beer Trends

This could be a banner year for beer in Greater Sudbury, with the anticipated opening of two new brew pubs.   Spacecraft has been rising from the abandoned Grey Hound station on Notre Dame - and while many have eagerly been awaiting for its doors to open throughout December, I think we can expect that the finishing touches will permit an opening sometime in January.

In the South End, I expect to see the much-touted microbrewery open in 2019 behind the Tap House (note that this is not a prediction, but rather a firmly worded request/demand!).  I've often wondered just why a City the size of our has only had just the one brewery - Stack  - which makes some excellent beer, by the way (which reminds me - I need to stop in today to get my Ball Drop - one for tonight, and another to age until next year).  I've been a little embarrassed to show my face at Stack since that whole Hot Box fiasco which I'd rather not get into, so I was thrilled to hear that plans were afoot for another microbrewery offering sales directly to the public (see: "City to get its first brew pub," the Sudbury Star, September 11, 2018).

As for beer itself, I'll defer to the select experts over at Beerwulf for predictions in beer for 2019 - even though I'm mildly disturbed by this whole 'low alcohol' thing.

Stanley Cup

You heard it here first: After defeating the Washington Capitals in overtime in Game 7, the Winnipeg Jets will win the Stanley Cup.

(opinions expressed in this blog are my own and should not be interpreted as being consistent with the views and/or policies of the Green Parties of Ontario and Canada)


Harvey said...

Surprisingly Steve I agree with most of your predictions on the federal level. I even predict we in the NDP will be very lucky to win twelve seats to hold official status in the House.

I do think you are under estimating your Party in B.C. unless the electorate actually blames them for the election and vote strategically for us. Of course I long ago predicted that Greens would bring down the government didn’t matter which way it turned out. I am not as confident that Horgan will get re-elected though they have kept the ast majority of their platform promises, surprisingly to many. Also while I agree we could have done without LNG but after all the money already invested it would have been political suicide to cancel it. Called real politics my friend or as I call it the art of the possible.

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