Happy New Year! Whether you are reading this on December 30th or anytime in January, I think we can all agree on one thing, we are delighted to see 2018 tumbling down the road in our rear-view mirror. This year contained more controversy than Kevin Spacey’s Failed Swim Camp.
On the Global level, we still have the Russian Plant continuing to mess things up in Washington. On the National stage, our Prime Minister couldn’t get a win, despite walking away from NAFTA negotiations with our honour still mostly intact, his failure to see that the Trans Mountain Pipeline starts getting built has caused civil unrest in a province that always feels it’s getting the short end of the stick. In their defence, they often are, but their enemy is in BC not Ottawa. I literally asked people in Alberta if they knew who John Horgan was and no word of a lie over half of the ten people I had the conversation with had no idea. But hey #FTrudeau.
Provincially we didn’t fare much better; however, our province’s reckoning will likely only take place in 2019. With the dumbest sequence of events to follow an election that I have ever seen, New Brunswick went ungoverned for the better part of two months, and honestly, I don’t think anyone could tell the difference. In the municipality of Belledune, we continue to struggle to fully comprehend that it is no longer 1993 and that having a population of just north of 1000 people and the median age being over 60 is not a good thing.
So that was 2018, and I say Good Riddance. May you be the lowest point in the valley and may the upswing be fast and aggressive. So now, here are my predictions for 2019!
1. Donald Trump Limps out of Muller Report
The man is like orange Teflon. He’s played more golf in 6 months than Obama did in 8 years. He has put more billionaires in positions of authority than any president before him, and he has either had to fire or replace the vast majority of his senior staff, mostly because they either got tired of or got caught trying to reign him in. And the grand result, nothing. He barely lost control of the House, and there is no rising Democratic Star that is seen as being ready to face him in 2020.
But this could all be for not. Robert Muller is close, like we are going to wake up one day in the first two months of 2019 to the news of the report either being released or, the imminent release of the report. It will find enough connections and evidence to definitively state that the Russian government worked in concert with some members of the Trump campaign, maybe even Don Jr. but will fail to directly link President Arsehole to treason. However, Muller will file charges against the President for a litany of federal tax related charges. The President will survive this, with looming legal consequences once he leaves office. It won’t quiet his entire base but enough will abandon him that the Republicans start looking for alternatives for 2020.
2. Trans-Mountain Pipeline Begins Construction in the Summer.
It doesn’t matter which side you are on this debate, the one thing that we can all agree on is that this issue has been one of the most brutal and damaging in our country’s recent history. Never mind the who failed on this one question, Harper is to blame as much as Trudeau for not getting this project started years ago. So here is why I am saying that construction will begin on the TMX project by June, if not sooner…
It’s plain and simple; you can hate Trudeau, you can love him, the one thing that you cannot deny is that in 2015 he ran a flawless campaign, that saw the third place party take a majority of the seats in the house of commons. If he were going to face the 2019 election without a check in the box of the TMX, we would be hearing about the mitigating moves that he is making to soften the blow by now. He would have already bought Notley her rail cars, or figured out a way to give everyone a pony. This isn’t me slighting Trudeau; every politician does this going into an election. A TMX win going into a summer campaign will essentially neuter a great deal of the criticism Andrew Scheer has been able to gain momentum on, and sorry to my Conservative friends it’s the only thing the man has going for him.
3. Blaine Higgs will Survive Two Confidence Votes: One with Liberal Support
New Brunswick, Canada’s least favourite province has been interesting as of late.
So after one of the dumbest election extensions in history, “thanks Westminster system.” We now have had three one-term Premiers in N.B. history, and they have all be sequential. I can’t tell you why this is, but likely it has something to do with hard truths and sacrifices and people’s predisposition to hate hard truths and sacrifices after they actually start to affect them.
With that said, Enter Blaine Higgs. Mr. Austerity himself. He even thought his moustache was too extravagant and European, so he cut funding to that also. Mr. Higgs after capturing 22 Seats in the legislature and the pledged support of 3 People’s Alliance members (we will get to them in prediction #5), now has the confidence of the house. He will have to face at least one confidence vote, the budget, but where I see the bold prediction coming will be one around Fracking.
Higgs is a staunch believer in paying our own bills, and I have to agree with him on that. But he is also a reasonably adept politician.
With Brian Gallant saying that he is going to resign as party leader, upon the next caucus meeting. The leadership race is off and running. And it is going to be brutal. The Interim leader will be weak, as with the losses of Victor Boudreau, Donald Arsenault (retirement) and Bill Fraser (defeat) there is not an elder statesman left in the party to assume the chair. I say this because I believe that Roger Melanson is going to run to become the leader, maybe if McKee can convince him to side with him he may take the helm, but Melanson sees this as a chance to rally the francophone base in Dieppe around him and really make a push for his legacy. The entire thing is going to be messy (more on that in #5)
Higgs will use this opportunity, seeing a fractured Liberal party to expand Shale Gas Development into other regions after initial success in the Sussex region and growing frustration with job loss in all regions of the province. He’ll force a confidence vote the Green party with nothing to lose or gain, will vote against it. The PA will fall in line as they wish to see their other agenda items furthered, and a Liberal MLA or three will differentiate themselves from the pack by breaking from the party and showing some gamesmanship.
4. The Village of Belledune Is in the News, A lot!
This might seem unfair to claim as being Deputy Mayor, I have some semblance of control over this; however, my reasoning has more to do with issues that are coming to a head rather than new ones that will be created. With Municipal councils entering their final full years of service we are going to see many would be re-electees attempt to get themselves a record to run on. This isn’t new by any means but with Ambulance service, economic development and Regionalization all becoming key issues in Northern NB we are going to see everything turn up a few notches.
TAX-BASE. Belledune has one of the highest tax bases in Northern NB and employs almost as much as the village’s population inside its boundaries. It is safe to say that without Belledune the surrounding communities would be far worse off. But that isn’t enough. The Province in an attempt to download the costs of servicing unincorporated communities, created the RSC’s (Under our last Conservative overlords) under this version, municipal cost sharing will be pushed even harder. Communities with declining tax bases like Bathurst, Dalhousie, among others will be looking to economic Engines like Belledune and Atholville to foot the bill for line items they can no longer afford. It’s going to be a fight, one that will pit community against community and it’ll be very interesting to see if the leadership in these communities can find a middle ground.
Less Bold Predictions
- The Leafs loose out in the first round to the Boston Bruins (three in a row baby).
- The Patriots win the Super Bowl.
- Canada Day Holiday is announced as the new end of the school year and August 15 as the start date.
- The next generation of iPhones have type C usb chargers forcing us all to buy new cords.
- Trudeau barely maintains Majority in 2019 Election, Maxime Bernier wins 5 seats
- The Jays shock critics and capture AL Wild Card
- February and March see record snowfalls and my ride to the hospital with my wife to deliver our first child is treacherous and a story I regal him with for his entire life.
5. Language Battle Becomes Biggest Issue In NB of 2019!
It was bound to happen. Blame it on the rise of populism, blame it on the arrogance and dismissal of higher-up political officials, 2019 will be the year where New Brunswick’s Language War really kicks off.
With a combination of the People’s Alliance getting three seats, the Liberals failing to win any seats south of Bouctouche (and yes I believe Saint John Harbour will be overturned). An Austerity based budget and competing victimhood will lead to the sourest relations between our two linguistic communities that we have seen since Louis J Robichaud.
The Liberal party is going to have a crisis of identity, where they will have to choose between an anglophone that gives them a hope of breaking into the south or doubling down and using a sharpie to cover the north in permanent red.
Ambulance hiring amendments will be struck down by the court, and then someone either in Belledune (the worst serviced community in the province) or southern NB will die due to slow response time, and it will erupt.
The People’s Alliance will introduce School Bus legislation which will send parents into a tizzy. Dominic Cardy, a close friend to Kelly Lamrock, will start pushing the entry point for French Immersion back “again” to grade 3 where there were proven benefits.
Before a permanent Language Commissioner can be hired Michele Carrier will release his report which will end up being the most incendiary government report ever produced. Most will not read it, but the headline will be something sensational like, “Ensuring Cultural Survival.”
Yellow Vests will start popping up, in NB protests on both sides of the debate, mostly because nobody really gets it in North America.
Susan Holt will win the Liberal Leadership, facing a tough climb to win a seat in her home city of Fredericton as well as to unify Francophone voters behind her while appealing to lost Anglophone seats in Moncton, Saint John and Miramichi.
Conclusion: It’s going to be a heck of a ride!
Sorry this got so long, I know these are supposed to be short. But I’ll keep this short, I wish all of you the best in 2019 and look forward to continuing to work hard for my business, family and community, and I hope you all do the same!