The 2019 political winners and losers are…

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As 2019 comes to a close, let’s take stock of the winners and losers of the year that was:

Ontario Minister Lisa Macleod: loser 

Not for a long time in Ontario politics has so much terribleness been the direct result of such a contemptible individual.  Lisa Macleod made mums of kids with autism cry and she joked about it.  For that alone, she deserves our contempt.  The former Minister of Social Services blew up the Ontario Autism Program and threatened service providers with “four long years” if they did not praise her.  After being demoted to Tourism, Culture and Sport, she infamously said she’d been moved from “the ministry of tears to the ministry of cheers”.  Oh, and she cussed out an NHL owner at a Stones concert in cottage country, because of course she did.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson: winner 

A simple message, memorable messaging on social media and an ability to charm and disarm — disagree with his politics, which I vehemently do, but one still must agree that Mr Johnson won in style this year.

Ontario Liberal leadership candidates: winners 

The battered and bankrupt third place party has signs of life in the polls and in its leadership race.  Frontrunner Steven Del Duca has shown incredible personal resilience and leads the back through dogged organising and hard work.  I may be helping run a rival campaign, but you have to admire Del Duca’s work ethic.  My guy, Michael Coteau, has made this a real race, and has put some key issues on the table: fare-free transit, votes at 16, Charter Cities, and he’s spoken bluntly about the need to change the culture of the Ontario Liberal Party.  The other four candidates have likewise shared headline-grabbing policy proposals, from a basic income to ending Catholic schools.

Ontario Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath: loser 

If the Ontario Liberal leadership candidates have made headlines, the NDP leader is a loser by default.  Darkhorse Alvin Tedjo has made more news running for the Ontario Liberal leadership than has Horwath.  She has made no meaningful effort to seize her platform as Opposition leader, simply assuming reading out questions at Doug Ford would matter.  The NDP are going nowhere in a hurry, as reflected in their third-place fundraising and position in the polls — and its their middling leader’s fault.

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland: winner

She’s prime minister to the prime minister.  Nice work if you can get it.

Canadian Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer: loser

This guy lost, didn’t get the message, and so was forced to lose all over again.  That takes some doing.

Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips: winner

Brought in to calm the waters after a cut-laden budget, Phillips has turned down the temperature at Queen’s Park with a more restrained, business-like approach.  Many individuals have tried to right the Doug Ford ship this year, but Phillips is the highest profile and the one who most directly has set the tone at the top.  For that, I give him the credit for making the provincial government less bad — perhaps the difference between chaotic evil and lawful evil, if I’m being cynical.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney: winner 

Like Boris Johnson, I’ll damn his policies, but praise his win.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: winning loser?

Trudeau won, but he got his wings clipped.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford: losing winner? 

Like Trudeau, it was the best of times and the worst of times for Douglas Ford Jr.  Sure, he’s in the big chair at Queen’s Park, but there’s open talk that his cabinet essentially mutinied, he was forced to jettison his chief of staff and buddy, and to go into the witness-protection program for the entire election campaign.  Still, he gets to govern, and seems now to be enjoying it more.  And he’s remarkably disciplined — when he wants to be.  Seems to me like he had to lose in order to win.

Maxime Bernier: loser

Honestly, I just wanted to write “Maxime Bernier: loser” in the header above.

Ontario teachers’ unions: winners

 The teachers’ unions are playing rookie Education Minister Stephen Lecce like a fiddle, escalating to weekly day-long strikes to keep the pressure on, but avoiding a full-out confrontation.  It’s a smart play and they’ve managed to keep the focus on government education funding cuts, rather than the Minister’s preferred talking point of compensation.

It’s been a strange year in Canadian politics.  Although not an exhaustive list, we’ve seen some clear winners and some clear losers, and some (like our PM) who landed somewhere in between.

Photo Credit: Ottawa Citizen

More from Jonathan Scott.   @J_Scott_

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