2015 is concluding. 2016 will be upon us very shortly. And all of you, I am sure, are looking forward to the single unparalleled gem this rollercoaster year of has brought us:
The long-census form is BACK. Now I have your attention.
Trudeau vs. Nieto
Owe your thanks (or don’t) to our freshly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. With his relative youth and unexpected good looks (well, unexpected as far as elected politicians go) that even got newspapers in the Philippines raving (The Philippines. The PHILIPPINES!), Trudeau surprised everyone by bringing his Liberal Party to a majority victory on October 19th from a distant third place in the initial polls. He now faces the extremely daunting task of fulfilling his many, many campaign promises (welcoming Syrian refugees, grandiose infrastructure overhauls, cutting taxes for the middle class, the list goes on…) by running a budget deficit. Only time will tell if Canada has made the right choice by kicking the experienced Harper out of office after almost ten years and by replacing him with the second Trudeau to have ever occupied this spot. You can have fun tracking his performance with regards to his electoral platform on this site. But Trudeau’s happiness, of course, meant sorrows for NDP leader Thomas Mulcair (who has decided to stay on as leader nonetheless after his party got fatally wounded by his stance on the niqab), Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe (who failed to win his old seat… AGAIN) and Conservative former Prime Minister Stephen Harper (who has decided to stay on as MP but resigned his position as party leader).
On The Job Training
Politics in Quebec this year has also had more ups and downs than military pilots flying to prepare for a space mission. For starters, a Parti Québécois leadership race saw Pierre-Karl Péladeau win with 57.58 percent of the vote despite his nonexistent prior political experience on May 15th. A living embodiment of the huge conflict of interest between media and politics that has even got the Université de Laval publishing academic studies on his situation, PKP spent the first few months on his new job learning the basics of running a party. The results so far? Stéphane Bédard, Chicoutimi MNA and pillar of the sovereignist movement, is out of the picture because PKP decided to replace him with Bernard Drainville as house leader (bad move for separatism). PKP has also already disobeyed standard PQ policy by leaving the door open to a possible partition of Quebec in the event of sovereignty during a national council meeting (but redeemed himself later). The jury is still out on his capacity for politics, but one things is certain: as he so eloquently stated himself, he still has “des croûtes à manger”.
Common Front vs. Couillard
On the other hand, things seem to be finally looking up for provincial Liberal leader Philippe Couillard. After facing so many rotating strikes that the sight of people protesting in the streets with blaring trumpets might as well just have become a core element of the Montreal cityscape in the vein of the Oratoire St-Joseph and the cross on the Mount Royal, Couillard has reached an agreement with the protesting Common Front on December 17th. Just in time for the new year, Couillard wants to shed his image as an austerity-touting killjoy and is in the process of planning a cabinet shuffle that could take place as early as January. Following the wake of Trudeau’s “sunny ways” before fickle voters change the tides, he wants to bring more female, youth and regional representation to his new cabinet.
Coderre vs. Canada Post
Things were no less calm on the municipal front this year. First, #Flushgate happened in spite of protests, online petitions and Trudeau’s efforts, frustrating lovers of the environment everywhere. Montreal mayor Denis Coderre has also successfully (literally) jackhammered his way into halting Canada Post’s community mailbox program. On October 26th, Canada Post’s spokeswoman Anick Losier issued a press release announcing that the program would be placed “on hold in an orderly fashion”. Coderre’s fight against Uber, however, seems to have been less successful. A year after the car-sharing service UberX launched in Montreal, it is a resounding success, with approximately 300,000 smartphone requests each month. Despite facing multiple protests by taxi drivers and vehicle seizures, Uber’s general manager for the province of Quebec, Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, insists the service is good for the city’s economy and is even planning a food-delivery service, UberEats (!).
All in all, this has been an intense year for our beloved Montreal. Stay tuned for even more adventures and drama as we enter 2016.