The author is a former conservative strategist. He was a political adviser in the Harper government as well as in the opposition.
The magazine Time made President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Ukrainian spirit the personality of the year and awarded the title of “heroines of the year” to Iranian women. The political year in Canada, far from accosting such examples of courage, has little chance of registering in the annals. With 2022, we are rather restricted to the lemon price category.
The convoy of truckers dominated the news last winter. We are waiting for Commissioner Rouleau’s report on the state of emergency for next February, but nothing prevents us from immediately awarding a lemon prize to the police. Whether it’s the Ottawa Police, the Provincial Police, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or the intelligence services agencies. Their internal struggles and inability to coordinate or share information were anything but professional.
You rarely get a second chance in politics. Unfortunately for them, the year 2022 will not have been very different from the previous one for certain party leaders. Erin O’Toole, first, who clung to power despite a predictable end. He will not finally have gone to the vote of confidence of the conservative militants, the deputies having used, for the first time, their power to eject him. Dominique Anglade suffered the same fate in the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ), but she had the decency to leave office honourably.
A dedicated politician left the scene this year, 25 years after he was first elected. Jason Kenney bowed out after a vote of confidence in his leadership. Another experienced politician failed to return to politics. Launched into the race for the Conservative leadership without being ready, Jean Charest paid a high price.
Jagmeet Singh showed his weaknesses as a tactician. Appointed New Democrat leader in 2017 when his party had 44 seats, he stagnated at 25 seats, two elections later. He voluntarily deprived himself of powers by concluding a pact with the Liberals last March. Instead of negotiating piecemeal to ensure the balance of power, he preferred to abdicate. If Canadians had wanted a Liberal majority government, they would have voted for it. When Mr. Singh rises in the House to criticize the government, when it is he himself who gives it its legitimacy, he is anything but credible.
A political event went under the radar in 2022: the Green Party of Canada elected a new leader. In fact, it’s her former leader who’s back, Elizabeth May now forming a duo with Jonathan Pedneault. While we were talking about the environment everywhere, even more so with COP27 in Egypt in November and COP15 in Montreal in December, the Green Party was nowhere. It’s quite an irony.
Hardly better in Quebec
In Quebec, François Legault was reappointed at the head of a majority government. It hadn’t happened since René Lévesque. However, we agree that his campaign performance, and more generally that of the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ), was not up to his landslide victory.
The leader of the Parti Québécois (PQ), Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, received his Christmas present in October. If he had not benefited from the expulsion of the candidate of Quebec solidaire (QS) for theft of leaflets to win his seat, he would be on waivers today, instead of having won the fight against the oath of allegiance to the king.
In Quebec, François Legault was reappointed at the head of a majority government. It hadn’t happened since René Lévesque. We agree, however, that his campaign performance, and more generally that of the Coalition avenir Québec, was not up to his landslide victory.
The year 2022 has not witnessed any great wonders from strategists either. The PLQ made a mistake of $16 billion in the calculation of its electoral platform, while claiming to present itself as the party of the economy. The leader of the Conservative Party of Quebec (PCQ), Éric Duhaime, crisscrossed the province instead of focusing on his riding, or on those where he was likely to elect a deputy. We hope that in 2023, we will have a sketch of the third link, because it is not this year that the CAQ will have given us details on this multi-billion dollar project.
Québec solidaire (QS) won one more deputy, and it is far from being the feat of the century. The party could have done better if it had updated its economic data. He would thus have understood that a tax on net assets of one million dollars is no longer what it used to be, especially with the average price of houses now reaching more than $600,000 in Montreal. At three or five million, it could have paid off politically.
If there is one thing we have learned in 2022, it is that there is a third vice-presidency in the National Assembly. Never has such an insignificant position been so coveted. Pierre Fitzgibbon will have another ethics investigation (the sixth) on his back – no big change on his side. The year ends with little enthusiasm in the Liberal ranks to run for the leadership. No savior on the horizon: Pierre Moreau withdrew.
Among the non-parliamentary remarks in the lexicon, none made the news in 2022. It must be believed that the deputies did not use much spirit in the National Assembly. The year 2022 still broke a record at Roxham Road in the number of “irregular” entries.
Work on the plate for 2023
One person stood out from the crowd: Sophie Brochu, the President and CEO of Hydro-Québec, who did not want Hydro-Québec to become the “Dollarama” of electricity. Rightly or wrongly, it is refreshing to see that the CAQ is not all-powerful. She forced her place at the decision-making table.
The Pope came to Canada to apologize to Indigenous peoples. A visit worth remembering, as it is not a historic footnote. We also have, for the first time, an aboriginal minister in Quebec, with Kateri Champagne Jourdain, whose appointment deserves to be highlighted.
Sport has also made a name for itself in politics, but for the wrong reasons. The behavior of the leaders of Hockey Canada was nothing less than an outrage. Carey Price, he jumped into the media arena with an association and a timing more than doubtful, instead of claiming his privilege of owning a hunting weapon, quite simply.
The world hailed the dedication of the Queen of England upon her passing. But in Quebec, taking the oath to the crown has become optional. It is to be hoped that Members of Parliament will continue to be faithful to their duty to serve their fellow citizens in 2023, because there is still much to do: improve our health system, guarantee our security (without foreign interference), improve our schools, protect our environment, supporting our seniors and strengthening the social safety net for the less fortunate, all of this on the basis of a strong economy, where inflation and the pandemic will, we hope, be just a bad memory.