Things are quiet in Canada right now. January always starts that way. The only big news so far has been the cold temperatures, which contribute to the usual complaints Canadians have about winter weather. There are sure to be things and people that will top Canadian headlines in 2018 though. Here’s a list of 10 stories that are likely to be big over the next 12 months.
The Prime Minister is now just past the mid-point in a four-year term. 2017 was not an easy year for the Trudeau government. Opposition to initiatives like tax reform and compensation for former Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr were strong. Cabinet ministers and Trudeau himself have been accused of breaking ethics rules. With just over a year until the next election, political watchers will have their eyes on Trudeau to see if he can hold things together before the campaign begins, especially now that the other major parties each have new leaders who could potentially defeat the Liberals.
Cannabis will be legal in Canada as of July 1, 2018. The big story will be any major effects legalization has on attitudes and behavior in Canadian society. Distribution and law enforcement issues still look complicated because sales methods and rules will be different in every province and law enforcement agencies are still trying to figure out how to apply the new rules.
Ontario’s Premier and her Liberal Party face an election in June. The question is, can they win it? The Liberals have been in power for 13 years and Wynne’s personal popularity is lower than Donald Trump’s. Liberal energy policies on energy and labor are the big sources of public opposition, but the policies are more popular in Toronto, Ottawa, and other urban centers where most of the population resides. However, the opposition Conservatives are gaining ground in public opinion even though their leader, Patrick Brown, remains fairly unknown. The left-leaning New Democrats seem directionless under long-time leader Andrea Horwath.
The Premier of Quebec faces re-election in autumn, 2018. In four years, Couillard’s Liberal government has achieved the once unthinkable and balanced the budget and set Quebec on a firm financial foundation. But, Quebecers like public services and are unhappy cuts were made in recent years in order to save money, and other residents would like to see tax cuts. Policies like the controversial so-called face covering law and ethical concerns involving the Liberal party have also given Couillard a rough ride.
Light Rail Transit in Ottawa
The first stage of Ottawa’s light rail transit (LRT) system is to open this year. It’s taken billions of dollars and caused years of road work and traffic problems. Will citizens adapt and use the new trains to get downtown?
The North American Free Trade Agreement is still being renegotiated. Protectionism and economic nationalism from the Trump Administration are at odds with the globalist tone of the Trudeau government in Canada, and the Mexican government. Will NAFTA survive? Will there be a return to the original Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, or will the old days of tariffs and duties come back?
Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017 turned from a celebration into a lot of serious reflection about what is wrong with Canada instead of what is good about it. There’s fairly widespread consensus that Indigenous people have not always benefitted the most from the Canadian experiment. Late Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie made highlighting injustices committed towards Indigenous people his legacy project. A public inquiry into the cases of missing or murdered Indigenous women continues its work—and the inquiry itself has had significant internal problems. 2018 will reveal more of the inquiry’s work and efforts by government to better serve the needs of Indigenous communities.
Sexual harassment and assault
The accusations of sexual harassment and assault made towards several film, television, and theater personalities in 2017 don’t show any sign of slowing down in 2018. The accusations are happening in Canada already. Albert Schultz recently resigned as artistic director of Toronto’s prominent Soulpepper Theatre Company after four civil suits were brought against him for alleged sexual misconduct in the workplace.
The 2018 Winter Olympics take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea in February. The winter games are a big deal for Canadians because our climate and heritage tend to give us an advantage in winter sports. These games are looking interesting enough because of the tense situation between North and South Korea, but Canada’s success in hockey will be the big athletic story. Canadian women’s teams have always done exceptionally well and have won gold medals in the past. Men’s teams have too, but NHL players won’t be allowed on the Olympic team this time, meaning the game Canadians take so seriously won’t have as much of a celebrity mood, but will also show some new, young, and aspiring talent on the international level.
Housing prices are astronomically high in large Canadian cities, especially in Toronto and Vancouver. The question is, will the trend continue? Will the financial industry and government take measures to curb the high cost of home ownership? Or, will the market reach its limit and the boom will go bust?