2006 marks the thirteenth New Year for which I’ve made a series of not-always-serious predictions. Someone with time on their hands is welcome to do some research on how my previous predictions have turned out. Those with less time on their hands can simply keep reading.
In the coming year, I hereby predict that …
The federal party leaders will use the second set of leaders’ debates to expand on the unstated assumptions behind their campaign slogans:
- Stephen Harper: “When we say ‘Stand Up for Canada,’ what we mean is that, if we get elected, you’ll all need to stand up for Canada — because we’ll be doing everything we can to sell out the country to the Americans and the oil companies.”
- Jack Layton will repeat his call for Canadians to “elect more NDP MPs. How many more? Well, specifically, we’d like you to elect at least 155 NDP MPs.”
- Paul Martin will remind voters that “there are over thirty million reasons to vote Liberal. But asking us to name any of them would be beneath us. Can’t we just agree that the Liberal Party has a divine right to rule the country?”
- Rather than explaining it, Gilles Duceppe will simply translate his party’s slogan “so that Mr. Harper can be sure that he understands the question.”
At least one Conservative MP (or advisor) and at least one Liberal MP (or advisor) will say something stupid, racist or otherwise offensive. In the first case, that will be taken as evidence of the party’s hidden agenda. In the second case, the individual will apologize and/or step aside and the entire incident will be forgotten within 24 hours.
The Conservatives will run a negative ad accusing the Liberals of planning to run a negative campaign. Oh wait, that’s already happened.
Star Liberal candidate Michael Ignatieff will stage a planned visit to Toronto and get trapped in a traffic jam on the Gardiner Expressway — thereby spending more time in the riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore than he had up to that point in his life.
Someone will win a minority government on January 23. I’ll save my prediction as to who that will be, and how stable the minority will be for a “serious” column later in the campaign.
Ralph Goodale will not resign as Finance Minister. Instead, he will continue to hide behind the fact that Conservative Finance Minister Michael Wilson did not resign in 1989 (when his entire Budget was leaked to the media) — even though some guy named Paul Martin was calling for his resignation at the time.
Citing the new “Goodale precedent” former Ontario Finance Minister Greg Sorbara (also the subject of an active police investigation) will happily reassume his duties.
Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman will withdraw promised funding for an expansion of Cambridge Memorial Hospital. The next day, he’ll announce that the funding has been reinstated. Then, he’ll write a letter to the Hospital clarifying that only “the first two weeks” of the required three year funding commitment is actually firm, but it’s “a good start.” A week later, he’ll attend a ribbon cutting at the Hospital, but will quietly tape the ribbon back together after the TV cameras have left. Subsequently, the entire Hospital Board and Administration will throw themselves into the Grand River in frustration.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Tory leader John Tory and NDP leader Howard Hampton will have a rare moment of unanimity on at least one issue. Then, they’ll each try to push the others out of the way to claim credit for the rare moment of unanimity.
Pepsi will hire Parti Quebecois Leader Andre Boisclair as its official spokesperson in the Province of Quebec. “I used to love Coke. Then I took the Pepsi Challenge,” he’ll be quoted as saying.
Andre Boisclair will demand that I retract that last prediction.
Ralph Klein will step down as Alberta Premier. To the surprise of most political observers, he will be replaced by his wife Colleen Klein, who did not want to give up any of the perks that come with the office.
Canadian filmmakers will announce that they have given up on creating a distinctive cultural product — since “we already know that Canadians won’t watch” such films. Instead, they will focus on developing Canadian knock-offs of popular Hollywood movies. The first movies released under this strategy will be: “That’s the Kind of Day It’s Beenâe¦” (substituting Lloyd Robertson’s coverage of the Gomery Inquiry for Edward R. Murrow’s exposÃ©s on the McCarthy hearings) and, of course, “The Chronicles of Sarnia.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs will not win the Stanley Cup in 2006, but they chalk another win in the somewhat less-coveted trophy in the annual early-May golf tournament for NHL also-rans.
A rash of injuries to veteran players will force Team Canada to rely almost entirely upon young NHL stars as it puts together the men’s hockey squad for the 2006 Olympics. The team’s first line will be “Crosby, Staal and Nash,” causing Wayne Gretzky to remark, “Here in Canada, it’s obvious that we teach our children well.”