In case you don’t want to listen to tonight’s show, and you still want to know my award winners anyway, this is the article for you.
Worst Politician of the Year: Jim Prentice.
Here was a man that simply had to wipe away the taint of Alison Redford’s over-indulgent tenure as Premier of Alberta, because no matter your political affiliation, Redford’s extravagance had no excuses. He was not only a successful former Federal cabinet minister, but he enjoyed much success in the private sector, which in politics is called a ‘win-win.’ He walked into Canada’s longest-running political dynasty, his main opposition was in ruins, and while the once booming oil economy of Alberta was suffering, he had a whole year to steady the ship before running for re-election. And then Jim Prentice shot himself in the foot. Both feet, actually. And his kneecaps. And his head. Metaphorically-speaking.
In another universe, Prentice’s name is amongst those mentioned to be Stephen Harper’s successor in Ottawa, but in this reality he’s the guy that took the wheel of an out of control bus and steered it off a bridge. In the process he somehow managed to throw himself under it because how else would you explain such maneuvering as breaking a fixed-election law (a Conservative’s pride and joy), or throwing in whole-heartedly with Danielle Smith and a rogue group of Wildrose MLAs, or telling his fellow Albertans to “look in a mirror” for blame on the province’s present dire fiscal straights, or declaring that Alberta would never go NDP orange. The result: Alberta PCs did not get mandate number 13, and Prentice had hoofed it out of town before all the ballots were counted. Basically, Prentice couldn’t have failed this badly if he tried.
Runners-Up: Wisconsin Gov. and former Presidential candidate Scott Walker; Federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair.
Good News Story of the Year: Syrian Refugees.
Called the undisputed worst humanitarian crisis since the last World War, the flood of refugees into Europe from Syria and Iraq brought out the very worst of people through much of the year. From that Hungarian camera woman that tripped one of the fleeing refugees, to the 30 U.S. Governors that put their foot down on allowing Syrians to immigrate there, to Danish politicians now talking about seizing the valuables of migrants to pay for their upkeep, the fates that were not kind to those fleeing the violence in their homeland, are no more charitable when they reach safety. Except in Canada.
Starting with the Liberal government’s promise to bring 25,000 refugees to our country by New Year’s Day, Canada immediately set a tone of welcoming and inclusiveness, a lighthouse of goodness in a sea of despair and indifference. After a contentious campaign that saw the previous government’s intentions concerning migrants cast in doubt, the difference was night and day when plane loads of refugees from camps in Turkey and Lebanon were welcomed at the airport by premiers, cabinet ministers, prime ministers and governors-general. Communities came together to support the new arrivals, funds were raised, clothing and toys were collected, and a local Guelph businessman opened up his wallet to the tune of $1 million to personally sponsor 50 families. The process hasn’t gone perfectly, but no one can’t say that Canada’s not doing its part.
Runner-Up: Movement on the First Nations’ File.
Train wreck of the Year: Canadian Media.
Global’s Leslie Roberts co-owned a PR company and hosted clients on his nightly newscast. CBC’s Amanda Lang nixed another reporter’s story about the Royal Bank, for which her boyfriend is a Board member. Evan Solomon was connecting his rich art dealer friend to the rich people he interviewed on Power & Politics. Paul Godfrey was inducted into the News Hall of Fame after his company took money to turn the front page of most of Canada’s newspapers into a Conservative ad the weekend before the election. And both Peter Mansbridge and Lisa Laflamme resigned from the Mother Canada Board when it was brought to light that two out of three of Canada’s lead national anchors were advocating for the ghastly monument.
Long story short, Canada’s mainstream media lost a lot of luster in 2015, and it seemed to be over a lot of stupid mistakes. Did no one tell Lang that she wasn’t at the CBC to cover for her boyfriend? Did Roberts not think that his bosses would want to know his side business was getting a bump on their airwaves? And if Mother Canada was so altruistic, why did both Mansbridge and Laflamme ditch as soon as their involvement became public knowledge? It’s hard enough to get people to take the news seriously, but it seems like the people with the most influence in the news business don’t take their jobs seriously anymore. We know its tough times out there for the media industry, but journalistic integrity should not be for sale, especially by the people still healthily employed in the business.
Runner-Up: The Federal Conservative Campaign.
Best Politician of the Year: Justin Trudeau.
When this year began, the popular consensus was that this past election cycle was going to come down to a race between Stephen Harper and Tom Mulcair. If Justin Trudeau was a factor, it was only so far as how well he would be able to situate the Liberals for a serious run in 2019, and if not, then we might be looking at the end of the Liberal Party as a Federal brand. Polls showed that the electorate wasn’t thinking too much about Trudeau either, and he was more or less cut out of the conversation as Question Period became increasingly a tête-à-tête between Mulcair and Harper. And then the campaign really began.
With the longest election period in modern Canadian history underway, something weird happened: the Liberals came back from oblivion to win handily a majority for the 42nd Parliament. Using optimism, direct appeal, and a surprisingly spry calculation to zig when others zag, Trudeau managed to come up the middle to be the man most likely to end the Harper Era. The fact that Trudeau was underestimated all the while helped a lot too, but it was the big tent coalition of women, young people, First Nations, old school Liberals, urbanites and small ‘c’ conservatives tired of Harper that catapulted the Liberals from 35 to over 180 seats. There are plenty of challenges as Trudeau and his team start their first full year of governing, but the honeymoon is still firmly in progress this holiday season, a shine that persists even though many are asking, how long will it last?
Runners-Up: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley; Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump.