Skip to main content

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday October 8, 2013.

DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

From deficits to devolution, the Globe's team of political journalists give you the low down of what to watch for across the country this year.

In federal politics:

Conservatives: Prime Minister Stephen Harper is undoubtedly glad to put 2013 behind him. Dogged by a scandal in the Senate that reached far into his office, his party's popularity has slipped well behind that of Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, who are also gaining the edge in fundraising. But Mr. Harper's Senate problems did not end with the flipping of the calendar. Criminal charges could be coming against people who he, himself, appointed. And the opposition parties will not stop pulling at the threads of the controversy until they are convinced there is nothing more to unravel. That leaves the Conservatives hoping that the bright lights of the 2014 economy will outshine the gloom that has befallen them. The Canadian dollar is down, the Americans are in recovery mode, and the deficit is targeted for elimination – all of which presages good news for Canadian pocketbooks. So Mr. Harper's job, in this year before the next federal election, will be to convince swing voters to keep their eyes on the fiscal positives and away from the other less savoury issues that will be swirling around Parliament. (by Gloria Galloway in Ottawa)

Story continues below advertisement

Liberals: The first nine months of Justin Trudeau's leadership proved he has enough charisma to rise nimbly out of political pratfalls that would have been the undoing of someone with less star power. But these things have a way of adding up. And the other parties are keeping careful notes for use on a campaign trail. If Mr. Trudeau continues to suffer from gaffe-itis, the healthy lead in the public opinion polls that has Liberals smiling could start to disintegrate. The challenge for the party will be to keep its leader talking with Canadians in the natural and engaging manner that serves him well, while ensuring that he stays on script and out of trouble. And, while it makes little sense to release a full range of policy until an election is within sight, the Liberals need to put more in the window than a promise to legalize marijuana. Especially important will be a push to convince Canadians that the tiller of the economy would be well-steered in Liberal hands. (by Gloria Galloway in Ottawa)

New Democratic Party: Poor Thomas Mulcair. He's the only federal leader who will admit he watches public opinion polls. Which means he has seen his New Democrats slide from first in mid-2012 to a solid third by the end of 2013. Mr. Mulcair won broad praise for his performance in the House of Commons, especially for his grilling of the government over the Senate scandal. But the NDP Leader knows he must convince those Canadians who are willing to vote for anyone but the Conservatives that he is the most competent alternative to Stephen Harper. He has to knock the feet out from under the Liberals without sending all that support back to the Tories. That's a tough order when the NDP and Mr. Mulcair seemingly scrape for every bit of media coverage they get. The New Democrats can't do a lot to attract voter attention with shiny new policies because the major planks of their platform – reversing corporate tax cuts, support for a west-east pipeline, a national system of childcare etc. – are already on the table. So they will just keep poking a stick at their opponents and hope for something to burst. (by Gloria Galloway in Ottawa)

The provinces:

British Columbia: The political landscape in B.C. will get a makeover in 2014 when the New Democratic Party picks a new leader to succeed Adrian Dix. It is a critical decision for a party that most thought would form government in 2013 but instead lost yet another election, cementing its reputation as the province's perpetual opposition. Many political observers believe this may be the NDP's last chance to get it right; another failure at the polls may be the party's last. The upcoming year is also pivotal for Premier Christy Clark who will have to begin delivering on the big bet she has made around LNG development. So far, she has failed to announce a single deal to back her claim that there are billions to be made from the province's LNG riches. Next year, she'll need to produce more than talk. (by Gary Mason in Vancouver)

Alberta: 2013 saw massive southern Alberta floods from which the province is still recovering, public sector labour strife and stories of children who died in the province's care making headlines – so Premier Alison Redford is likely hoping for a quieter 2014. In a December cabinet shuffle she demoted some of her shoot-from-the-hip type cabinet ministers (Doug Griffiths and Thomas Lukaszuk) in favour of steady-as-she-goes types, like party stalwart Dave Hancock, and cabinet rising stars Robin Campbell and Manmeet Bhullar. The Progressive Conservative government is also looking to quell some of the criticism of its financial management with a close-to-balanced budget and pension reform legislation early in the year. Market access for Alberta's increasing bitumen production from the oil sands will remain a key focus of Ms. Redford's government in 2014. But with staunch environmental opposition to both the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway and Keystone XL pipelines, the province goes into the new year facing another uphill battle. (by Kelly Cryderman in Calgary)

Saskatchewan: Even in booming Saskatchewan, a budget battle looms. Premier Brad Wall's province has boasted surpluses and strong growth in recent years – but as potash fortunes slide, Mr. Wall is warning of a belt-tightening year. "We're going to make sure the budget is balanced in the spring, and finances are going to be tighter," he told reporters in December. Meanwhile, a long-simmering battle over labour laws is set to flare up again –the Supreme Court is scheduled to rule in May on the legality of a pair of laws passed by Mr. Wall's right-leaning Saskatchewan Party government, with labour leaders arguing the premier is pushing through changes that violate workers' fundamental rights. (by Josh Wingrove)

Manitoba: All is not well for the last-standing NDP government in Canada. Polls suggest Premier Greg Selinger's party's popularity has sunk well below that of the Progressive Conservatives – in part due to a controversial PST hike that saw the legislative session drag on through the entire summer. The Opposition Progressive Conservatives have signalled they'll mount a court challenge of the hike, as Manitoba law had required a referendum before the PST was raised. That could come by late January. Two by-elections are also scheduled for January, each in opposition-held seats. Amid it all, Mr. Selinger has time to turn things around – a general election isn't expected until late 2015 or early 2016. (by Josh Wingrove)

Story continues below advertisement

Ontario: With Andrea Horwath's New Democrats under pressure to stop propping up the Liberals' minority government, and Premier Kathleen Wynne less inclined than previously to bend over backwards for the NDP's support, the smart money is on a spring election in Ontario. Everything in the next few months, including a pair of winter by-elections and the preparation of the province's next budget, will build up to that expected campaign. But with polls showing all three major parties in the province competitive, what happens after that is much less predictable. With very different approaches – a push by Ms. Wynne for government to do big things, pocketbook populism on the part of Ms. Horwath and the promise of a war on organized labour by Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak – the leaders will be trying to break through to an Ontario electorate that seems to be more disengaged than ever. (by Adam Radwanski in Toronto)

Quebec: The Parti Québécois are ready to fight a provincial election in 2014. Debate over the controversial secular charter bill will heat up in public hearings in January and the tabling of a budget in the spring will set the stage for an election that the opposition parties expect no later than May. In her pursuit to stay in power, Premier Pauline Marois' minority government will be pressed to outline if the PQ will hold a referendum on sovereignty should it win a majority mandate. If so, an election may awaken the debate over national unity. (by Rhéal Séguin in Quebec City)

New Brunswick: New Brunswick will likely have a change in government next fall. Expect Premier David Alward and his Progressive Conservatives, who won a majority government in Oct. 2010, to be replaced by the Liberals and their 31-year-old rookie leader, Brian Gallant. New Brunswick is hurting economically – its young people are fleeing west – and it is pushing controversial policies, such as exploration for shale gas (fracking), as the government tries to boost the economy. (by Jane Taber in Halifax)

Prince Edward Island: The Senate isn't just a worry for those in Ottawa – it will be top of mind for PEI Premier Robert Ghiz in 2014, too. The province has a guaranteed four seats in the Red Chamber, the most seats per capita of any province in the country. When the Supreme Court of Canada rules in 2014 on the constitutionality of Senate reform or abolition, the premier will be watching closely. "The Senate helps protect [PEI] for the representation we have with the federal government. If we lose that, we lose a big component of our representation," Mr. Ghiz said in a year-end interview with CBC, adding: "I'm not willing to jeopardize that." (by Chris Hannay)

Nova Scotia: Stephen McNeil begins his first full year in power after defeating Darrell Dexter's NDP government last fall. He campaigned on a careful platform, with no promises about cutting taxes or balancing budgets until the books are in order. The economic update released just before Christmas shows a $482-million deficit after the NDP had forecast a small surplus – $18.3-million – before they lost the election. It is expected the Liberals will take a cautious approach to governing, as they did with their campaigning. In fact, in the spring the Liberals will have to bring in legislation to undo the law passed by the previous government to reduce the HST by two percentage points – from 15 to 13 percentage points over two years. (by Jane Taber in Halifax)

Newfoundland and Labrador: Premier Kathy Dunderdale has her work cut out for her in the new year as her popularity and that of her Progressive Conservative government is not faring well in the polls. She is trailing the newly elected Liberal leader, Dwight Ball, who just took over in November. His party has 52 per cent support compared to 29 per cent for the PCs and 19 per cent for the NDP, according to a poll released in December by Corporate Research Associates. The big question in the province is whether Premier Dunderdale will run in the next election, which is not expected until October 2015. With the massive $7.7-billion Muskrat Falls Hydroelectric project now finalized, meanwhile, there are expectations the government will continue to do more with energy and resource development, including possibly purchasing the Canada Hibernia Holding Corporation from the federal government. (by Jane Taber in Halifax)

Story continues below advertisement

Yukon: The mining boom has slowed somewhat in the westernmost territory, but development maintains a key priority. In particular, Yukon's government is asking Ottawa for help building a new hydro dam, which it hopes will help spur development. An initial work plan is expected in 2014, and the costly project will test the resolve of the federal government that has emphasized northern development. The Yukon government also expects to announce a land use plan for the Peel Watershed in the north of the territory, and could begin selling oil, gas and mining rights in the region by early 2014. (by Josh Wingrove)

Northwest Territories: Canada's most populous territory finally has its own deal on devolution, giving it province-like powers over resource development. A federal bill enacting the deal was tabled in December, and carrying out the transition of powers will be nearly an all-consuming process for Premier Bob McLeod's government. Otherwise, it's a year of infrastructure: construction is expected to begin on a highway to Tuktoyaktuk, a major priority of the Harper government. The territory has also released an ambitious energy plan and is making a push to deliver high-speed Internet access to the community of Inuvik, which has potential as a satellite monitoring site. The territory also expects to host meetings of the Arctic Council and the Inuit Circumpolar Conference in 2014. (by Josh Wingrove)

Nunavut: Nunavut went to the polls Oct. 28, and MLAs have since chosen a new premier, Peter Taptuna, a former deputy premier and energy minister who was an oil-and-gas worker before entering politics. Mr. Taptuna has already brought in new staff, and is set to meet in February with cabinet to lay out a four-year mandate – his spokeswoman said he'll focus on "education, employment and economic development." Among Nunavut's challenges is negotiating a deal on devolution, or giving it province-like powers over resources. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a fall Throne Speech that devolution talks with Nunavut were a key part of the government's northern development strategy. (by Josh Wingrove)

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies