With Parliament rising for the holidays, Ottawa’s political world is going on hiatus for a break many are welcoming. After a long and polarizing fall session, PAA’s team is thinking about what gifts each party and leader are hoping to find wrapped under the tree this year. Not everyone will get the gift they hope for, and what looks like a beautifully-wrapped present this week could turn to a lump of coal as 2024 begins to play out.
Justin Trudeau and the Liberals
Justin Trudeau and his Liberal caucus can’t wait to bid farewell to 2023. It has been a difficult year, with the government often on the defensive, watching its poll numbers tumble. The New Year brings hope for a new start, with new legislative priorities focused on affordability. All the Liberals can ask for are for better polls and for seat projections to favour them this holiday season. They will be watching to see whether polls tighten in 2024.
However, the hoped-for shift in support for the Liberal Party will depend on what is released in Budget 2024 and the continued implementation of Liberal priorities on affordability, including $10-a-day childcare, the Dental Care Plan, and a plan to build more affordable homes. The question, however, is whether this will be enough for voters, as parties begin to prepare for the next federal election. The Liberals will seek to make an issue of the Conservatives’ obstruction of the House of Commons, aiming to convince Canadians that the Opposition is not serious about handling the major issues of 2024. But of all the parties, the Liberals could be the most disappointed with what Santa leaves them this year.
Pierre Poilievre and the Conservatives
Pierre Poilievre’s wish list for Santa Claus is a short one: a 2024 election, and fast. Over the past several months, polls have shown the Conservatives with a comfortable double-digit lead over the Liberals and in majority government territory. Poilievre and the Conservatives will need to find a way to keep momentum and hope that they have not peaked too early. Easier said than done, as the next scheduled election is almost two years away, and with the balance of power held by the New Democrats, there’s little the Tory leader can do but hope Santa grants him this one wish.
In the hopes of advancing his Christmas wish, the Conservative Leader and his caucus have been working to find ways to slow the progress of the government’s agenda to a halt. Whether it has been the marathon 30 hours of voting on the Supplementary Estimates, ongoing filibusters in Committees, or the frequent use of concurrence motions, the Conservatives are hoping that the Liberals get fed up with the lack of progress and pull the plug themselves.
Poilievre seems to have found his stride when going on the offensive against Justin Trudeau, and the Tory leader seems to relish the coming electoral fight. Defeating a Trudeau in an election would undoubtedly vault Poilievre into legendary status amongst Conservatives, an accomplishment that eluded the last three Conservative leaders. If Santa doesn’t have a 2024 election in his sack for Poilievre, his challenge will be to maintain momentum and avoid any unforced errors over the next year.
Jagmeet Singh and the NDP
The NDP has enjoyed a year that feels like a Christmas wish list come true. Through the Supply and Confidence Agreement signed with the Liberals in 2022, the NDP has seen a slew of their policy priorities take shape in the PMO workshop. With “anti-scab” legislation progressing through the House of Commons, Dental Care rolling out like Santa’s sleigh, and active negotiations for a national pharmacare program, you would expect the NDP to be quite content.
But what the NDP desires above all else is a little movement in those national polling numbers. Unfortunately, the NDP’s position in the polls is as frozen as your mouth after a dentist visit, and while more people can now go to the dentist (thanks to them), there seems to be no thawing any time soon. Despite momentum in the provinces west of Ontario, including the election of a new provincial NDP government in Manitoba, Canadians find Jagmeet Singh as exciting as unwrapping a pair of socks. It’s a nice gesture, but they’re more interested in a shiny new blue toy.
Yves-François Blanchet and the Bloc Québécois
Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet would probably like to find his stocking stuffed with a little of the same magic that is bringing his Parti Québécois counterparts to the top of the polls in Quebec.
On the eve of the October 2022 general election in the province, some of the best analysts were predicting the death of the PQ. But a just year later, against all odds, it is Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, leader of the PQ, who is dominating the polls thanks to his courage, candid attitude and sunny disposition.
While the Bloc Québécois leader enjoys being seen and photographed in the company of his counterpart from the National Assembly, Blanchet doesn’t seem to benefit from the new energy that St-Pierre Plamondon brings to his party. However, the Bloc is ending the year in a strong position in the polls, dominating in La Belle Province while the Liberals are losing ground to the Conservatives, who may soon reach their ceiling. Against this backdrop, the Bloc hopes that the NDP-LPC alliance will hold firm, and that Justin Trudeau will remain leader of the Liberal Party going into the next election.
As we end the year, the PAA team wishes you a very happy holiday season and plenty of rest as you embark on what promises to be another busy New Year!