In 2011 the most exciting political dramas might be in the provinces not in Ottawa. The only people that will come as a shock to are those in the nation's capital for whom bath water is often the drink of choice.
2011 could see Canada have two female premiers. Kathy Dunderdale is already in-charge in Newfoundland and Labrador. She has just recently signaled her intention to keep the job permanently and will likely be named full-time leader by acclamation in 10 days. When Ms. Dunderdale goes to the electorate in October she will likely be competing against two strong female opposition leaders. A Canadian first in Canada's youngest province, an election where all major party leaders are women.
In British Columbia, the BC Liberals will choose a new leader at the end of February. That person will also become premier. Right now the leading contender for the job is Christy Clark the former Deputy Premier. Though she'll face stiff competition from people like Kevin Falcon currently she appears to be the front-runner.
Staying with British Columbia the appearance of the B.C. Conservative party is also something to keep an eye on. It seems Ms. Clark's emergence as the potential leader of the B.C. Liberals is making many conservatives out there uncomfortable. Having nothing to do with gender and everything to do with the perception that she is a Stephane Dion clone in B.C. Liberal clothing causes many in B.C. to worry.
In Alberta, Danielle Smith and her Wild Rose Alliance continue to cause Premier Ed Stelmach headaches. Alberta conservatives having an identity crisis? What a novel concept! Nonetheless you don't need Freud or Jung to tell you that can have all sorts of ramifications not just in Alberta but to the national conservative movement as well.
Alberta has fixed date election in 2012. Could we see a third female premier in Canada sitting at the first ministers table then? While that is pretty exciting I promised to confine this overview to 2011.
In Saskatchewan, Brad Wall's star will continue to rise. He'll go to the polls this year too. With Danny Williams gone, potash staying put and resources revenues continuing to pump in he'll become the premiere premier. The one who can walk tall and carry a big stick.
Federal political fortunes are often shaped by how seats rise or fall there. Wall knows that and has demonstrated Mr. Williams aptitude for communicating with Canadians about commodities they understand. It takes real skill to turn a debate about fertilizer into a national unity issue.
Ontario is going to have a big electoral brawl this year. Culminating in October current Premier Dalton McGuinty will be fighting tooth and nail to win a third term. Mr. McGuinty, whose government has given Ontario "have-not" status, will be challenged by Tory leader Tim Hudak for power. Mr. Hudak, a former Mike Harris minister, currently leads in the polls and seems to be helping push a desire for change with that province's electorate. Mr. Hudak will have to fight hard to win. Mr. McGuinty and his team will be fierce opponents. But 2011 could see another new premier on the scene.
Quebec politics is never dull. Premier Jean Charest appears to be down now suffering because of construction industry scandals but will he be out? Mr. Charest never one to be underestimated says he wants to fight another election but that is still two years away. Does he stay or go? The Parti Quebecois has its own challenges under their leader Pauline Marios. Does she hang on? Quebec politics presents one of the best reality shows in Canada.
In Nova Scotia, Darrell Dexter the NDP Premier along with his partners in the rest of the region have one of the biggest business deals in the country to keep pushing. The dynamics of the Lower Churchill deal and all of its assorted politics will dominate headlines for month's to come.
So while predictions about Canadian Politics for 2011 thus far have almost entirely focused on what might happen on Parliament Hill gazing beyond the Rideau River is more exciting and meaningful.
Happy New Year. It is going to be a fascinating one.
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