The first thought when looking ahead to 2021 is that no matter how bad the next 12 months may be, they could scarcely match the preceding annus horribilis. Borrowing from Don McLean’s famous pop tune American Pie, 2020 was the year the music died.
Hopefully there are more promising signs in the days ahead. As I write this, there have been next to no confirmed flu cases Canada-wide, and none at all in B.C. This is unheard of in the modern era, and likely due to social distancing.
As well, the massive stimulus spending by governments across the country, while unsustainable in the long term, surely will begin the process of recovery.
However, I’d rather leave this damnable plague behind for now, and turn to a different one — politics.
Some savvy watchers are predicting a federal election in the spring. They imagine Prime Minister Justin Trudeau trying to benefit from the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine, in the same way B.C.’s NDP won the provincial election last October on their handling of the outbreak.
Personally, I doubt Trudeau gets credit for the mere arrival of a vaccine. No one thinks the prime minister has been doing virology experiments in his basement. In addition, an April election would plunk the campaign in the middle of a budget meltdown.
If vaccination is the key to electoral victory, September looks a better bet, by which time nearly everyone will have been inoculated and the fiscal mess temporarily forgotten.
Either way though, the determining factor in the outcome is more likely to be the dead-on-arrival performance of Conservative leader Erin O’Toole. Plus the dead-before-arrival of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.
Neither man has the vaguest idea how to conduct retail politics, and each presides over (under?) a caucus with suicidal tendencies.
A significant number of Tory MPs spent December trying to derail a Medical Assistance In Dying bill. Now the MAID act as it stands is problematic, due to its lack of clarity. But there should be no complaint about its underlying intent.
When it comes to basic beliefs, 80 per cent of Canadians support the right to medically assisted death in one form or another. What we’re seeing are Conservative MPs clinging to the same far right-wing ideology that wrecked the Reform Party.
Meanwhile, Singh’s NDP caucus has no answers to the economic calamity staring us in the face. Indeed, it does not concern them.
They would halt every oil-drilling, lumber-cutting and mining operation country-wide if they could. Their priority is gravy trains, not fuel trains.
In short, an election next fall is Trudeau’s to lose, but even in April, he’s probably the odds-on favourite.
What about the provincial scene? By the day, John Horgan is proving himself a born leader, decisive when he needs to be, self-deprecating when required. I can’t recall a provincial premier quite so adroit.
He could be prime minister one day, if only he represented a different party.
And Horgan, too, has huge good fortune in the Opposition leaders he faces. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, a decent man in search of a clue, is gone and already forgotten.
His temporary replacement, Shirley Bond, is the lamest of place-markers. Mike de Jong would have been a better choice, unless he’s signalled he wants the top job himself.
And Sonia Furstenau is a rebel without a cause.
No point descending into municipal politics. I already promised to leave damnable plagues behind.
Instead, let me close by wishing everyone a good new year, and the greatest happiness throughout.