Canada’s 2015 election

With an eventful 2014 now in the history books, let’s look ahead at what promises to be a busy year for Canadian politics. We are entering a federal election year, with a poll date tentatively scheduled for Oct. 19. After a stunning election in 2011 that saw the emergence of the NDP as the Official Opposition as well as the utter collapse of the Bloc Québécois, 2015 could again see a large shift in Canada’s political landscape. Will Prime Minister Harper’s Conservatives stay strong at the polls after enduring their rockiest two years since coming into power in 2006? Or have voters grown weary of government scandal and controversy? Can Justin Trudeau earn the country’s confidence as he attempts to lead a Liberal resurgence?
The Conservatives have a tough year ahead of them. The long-anticipated trial of suspended Senator Mike Duffy, who faces 31 charges including fraud and bribery, is scheduled to begin in April. Rumours abound that Harper may call an early spring election to avoid the fallout from the Duffy trial, although he has stated previously that he is not planning on dropping the writ early. The government is expected to announce their annual budget in February or early March, and economists forecast that it will be the first balanced budget since 2007. The Tories have pledged tax cuts for families in the budget, which could boost their popularity heading into the election.
The Liberals have enjoyed a re-emergence in opinion polls over the last year, as Justin Trudeau continues his re-branding of the party. However, high public opinion is mired by steady criticisms over his public conduct. A stream of questionable public comments, most recently where he joked about the Conservative government’s intention to “whip out our CF-18s and show them how big they are,” only reinforce his image as inexperienced and immature, and there is some concern that he wouldn’t be taken seriously on the world stage.
The NDP will have to make their case as a better alternative as Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair takes the party into their first election without the charismatic Jack Layton. It is unlikely that they will retain their status as Official Opposition, but they could play an important role if either the Conservatives or the Liberals form a minority government.
The Green Party could be poised for their best election yet after winning their first parliamentary seat in 2011 when Elizabeth May captured her seat. They currently sit with two seats after former NDPer Bruce Hyer joined the Green Party in 2013. Another change set to take place with this election is the addition of 30 seats in Parliament, increasing the total to 338. Most of the gains are in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta.
One issue that will surely be debated is the future of pipelines in Canada. With the U.S. heading for a showdown on Keystone XL, and plenty of controversy about projects underway here in B.C., voters will have to decide which party is in the best position to sort through the economic and environmental ramifications additional pipelines will bring.
It’s really anyone’s guess what 2015 will bring, but it’s certainly going to be an important election, one to which everybody should be paying attention.

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