The political forecast for 2015

Get ready for anti-austerity protests of every stripe in Quebec, and new leadership in Ottawa. But the biggest story of the year will be a global one.



If you thought 2012 was a banner year for protests and police overtime, 2015 is shaping up to be significantly more disruptive. While Quebec’s Couillard government is planning on making thousands of changes to the way it runs its hospitals, schools and public services, 550,000 public sector workers are gearing up for contract negotiations where they have already been told to expect a salary freeze for the first two years and job losses for the next five.

The health system will begin undergoing the latest in a seemingly endless string of reforms as minister Gaétan Barrette tries to cut administrative costs. (Ask any health worker where they’ve wasted the most time in the last 20 years and most of them will tell you it was in meetings where they had to plan how to adapt to the latest reforms. Expect more of the same as the health sector undergoes a Barresectomy, removing layers of bureaucrats with little discernible impact on actual bureaucracy.)

Add that to the significant changes that Montreal’s two new superhospitals will bring to regional healthcare. Despite years of planning, administrators are still announcing surprises about what services will and won’t be available when the MUHC and CHUM open their doors in 2015.

Just imagine what’s going to happen when the government introduces unplanned reforms, like Barrette’s overnight overhaul of the regional health structure.


On the good news front, 2015 could bring us a new government in Ottawa. Make that the VERY good news front.  Although neither Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party nor the New Democrats under Thomas Mulcair inspire an enormous amount of confidence, we can at least be confident they will put the brakes on Canada’s eight-year slide into international disrepute over everything from the oilsands to environmental protection, peacekeeping, diplomacy and scientific rigour.

They could also put an end to the Harper government attacks on environmental and social organizations, its muzzling of scientists, its cuts to the arts, healthcare, the CBC and employment insurance, and its massive increase in spending to incarcerate Canadians. Either party would drop the government opposition to Quebec maintaining its own long-gun registry and return the obligatory long-form census so that Statistics Canada could regain some of its now-tarnished reputation.

Although some of the damage the Conservatives have done to this country is irreversible — destroying scientific fishing records comes to mind — there’s plenty that a new government in Ottawa can do to re-establish our former reputation as a fair-minded arbiter of peace and human rights and to take on much-needed leadership in the preservation of the world’s ecological and biological heritage.


Regardless of what happens in Quebec or Canadian politics, however, there will be no issue more critical in 2015 than what the world decides to do about our man-made, headlong rush into an environmental crisis of global proportions. As world leaders gather in Paris to discuss the ways and means of reducing the impact that human activities are having on the rising temperature of the planet, we could quite literally be watching the end of the world as we know it.

Happy New Year.
Peter Wheeland is a Montreal journalist and stand-up comic. His sardonic observations about the city and province appear on Cult MTL every week. You can contact him by Email or follow him on Twitter.