Another year is sure to bring another interesting series of events for us to watch in the world of politics. While 2017 certainly had it’s fair share of nail-biting moments, including what was one of the most politically-unique post-election outcomes in Canada with B.C’s election last spring, 2018 could still shape up to be even more exciting. Government relations, communications and campaign management consultants like us here at MNH Strategies literally live for busy election years like these. Here are some of the main attractions:
Saskatchewan Party Leadership Selection on January 27
Brad Wall, Saskatchewan’s popular and nationally-admired Premier will be resigning at the end of January after spending more than 10 years leading the Province. The Saskatchewan Party will be asking their membership to vote on January 27th to elect not only a new leader, but a new Premier. This is not a common occurrence, and is quite rare to see a Premier resign for reasons other than the loss of an election (although, in recent memory, Gordon Campbell resigned as Premier over public outrage amid controversies in 2011; and scandal-plagued Dalton McGuinty also vacated his premiership for Kathleen Wynne in 2012). This leadership race is not only important for the future of government, but the future of the Saskatchewan Party hangs in the balance as well. As a coalition party that has successful brought the province’s centre-left and centre-right into the same tent, the future leader will have their work cut out for them by appealing to both sides of the coalition, and keeping the party intact as it gears up for their next general election in 2020.
BC Liberal Party Leadership Election on February 3
Just days later, members of another coalition party will be taking on the similarly daunting task of selecting a leader they believe to possess the necessary qualities to lead the BC Liberal Party during these particularly unstable times in British Columbia. The current GreenNDP alliance governing B.C. is following the leadership race intently because it will very likely determine the timing and likelihood of the next general election. The biggest challenge for the leader-to-be will be to fight the Proportional Representation (PR) referendum schedule for this fall. Failure to stop PR will destabilize the BC Liberal Party (which consists of Federal Liberals and Conservatives) and jeopardize the potential for any future stable majority governments in British Columbia.
Ontario General Election in June
June 7, 2018 marks the possibility of a new era for Ontario’s political landscape. Canada’s lowest polling Premier, Kathleen Wynne, faces a near-insurmountable challenge in convincing Ontarian’s that she deserves another term leading their province. In office since 2003, the Ontario Liberals have had no shortage of reasons for voters to send her packing. From the gas plant scandal (which recently had Dalton MucGuinty’s former chief of staff criminally charged for his involvement), to allegations of bribery and coercion, the highest hydro rates in North America, turning Ontario into the most indebted sub-sovereign jurisdiction in the world on a per-capita basis. Patrick Brown, the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party’s “newish” and still relatively unknown leader, will be put to his first test in the upcoming general election. While the case for Ontarian’s to give him a chance at running government in June seems obvious to most outsiders, it only requires a short memory to know that the Ontario PC’s have a special knack for shooting themselves in the foot when it matters most.
New-Brunswick General Election in September
New-Brunswick’s Liberal Premier Brian Gallant will be working hard to defend from becoming the province’s third single-term government in history. Former Premier and current leader of the opposition, David Alward, however, knows the feeling all too well as he was booted from his premiership after his first term back in 2014. While it may not be the centre of the universe, the next general in New-Brunswick will be worth the watch to see if New-Brunswickers are willing to let the young and handsome Gallant continue building momentum with his progressive agenda for the province, or if they prefer the feeling of deja vu.
Quebec General Election in October
Quebec’s Premier Phillipe Couillard will likely white-knuckle his way into his second term as Premier, despite a decent economy, record low-unemployment, and a balanced budget. Couillard has suffered a slow but steady decline in the polls, and the issue is compounded by the fact that the Parti Quebecois is falling apart and that it’s membership seems to splitting in the direction of the Coalition Avenire Quebec (la CAQ). With la CAQ acutely aware of this fact and also making efforts to bring on star candidates to run under their banner in October, Couillard will need need more than just work hard decent luck to keep himself and his caucus in government. Speaking from experience, working a general election in October tends to make sure a very long year.
Municipal Elections across B.C. and Ontario in November
Lastly, 2018 will come to a close with province-wide municipal elections across B.C. and Ontario.
Of note in Vancouver, the once popular and high-profile Mayor Gregor Robertson has decided not to run again for the city’s top spot. This leaves Vision Vancouver with enough time to find a proper candidate to replace Gregor and fight to maintain power. The Non-Partisan Association (NPA) on the other hand, is likely unhappy about Gregor’s resignation because it will make booting Vision from City Hall that much more difficult now that they’ve ditched their tarnished mayor. Regardless, this outcome will see a fresh face in the Mayor’s office come November. (FYI, Vancouver is the only Canadian city that has political parties at the municipal level)
Toronto’s municipal race will also be interesting to follow as Mayor John Tory tests himself after his first term. The level of excitement that we can expect during election however will depend on whether or not Doug Ford commits to challenging for once again for his job. Since the death of his brother and former mayor, Rob Ford, Doug has entertained the idea of running for mayor but we have yet to get a firm commitment.
While every new year brings new challenges for most of us, it appears that 2018 will be a particularly challenging year for Canadian politicians, and those looking to become one.