While this year was a tumultuous one in Canadian politics, 2014 might be even more eventful as parties position themselves for the next federal election.

Here is what each of the five parties in the House of Commons need to do to make 2014 a success.


Elizabeth May's party had been on a roll in 2011 and 2012, getting their first MP elected and giving the old parties a run for their money in byelections in Calgary Centre and Victoria. But 2013 was not nearly as successful, as the party was a non-factor in five byelections.

Getting independent MP Bruce Hyer to join the Greens' ranks gives the party a boost, but May needs to demonstrate that the party has an important role to play in Parliament. With Hyer sitting next to her, she has the opportunity to show what a team of Green MPs can do in Ottawa.

But if it remains the May Show, she will find herself sitting all alone again come 2015.

Bloc Québécois

The last two years have been a bit of a write-off for the Bloc Québécois, though Daniel Paillé did help streamline the party's internal organization.

But with Paillé stepping down for health reasons, the Bloc has a good opportunity to get itself some press with either a competitive leadership race or the acclamation of a "saviour" to replace him.

It is not entirely clear who might take on the thankless job.

If the Bloc can attract some good candidates, they stand a chance of making up some ground in Quebec. If no one outside of caucus makes a run for the leadership, the party may continue to wallow in obscurity.


Can the Liberals possibly improve on a year like 2013? It seems unlikely, but if the party can manage to maintain their lead in the polls the year will be a success.

As the next election approaches, minds will begin to focus on what a Justin Trudeau-led Liberal government would look like, and the party will need to spell that out in more detail. That does not mean specific policy proposals, but rather a clearer indication of what the Liberals will do to solve the problems they have identified as being the most urgent in Canada.

Trudeau has long said that he will be consulting with Canadians to design the party's next election platform — presenting some of the findings of that consultation would be a good first step.

New Democrats

The NDP has gone from leading in national polls in mid-2012 to trailing in third, albeit at a level of support roughly 10 points higher than what they could count on prior to the 2011 breakthrough.

It is not time to hit the panic button just yet.

Thomas Mulcair will never be able to out-charm the Liberal leader, but he can out-serious him.

The idea of an NDP government in Ottawa is a very new one for Canadians, and the longer Mulcair can present his party and himself as a plausible alternative to the Conservatives the greater his chances of being able to take advantage of any opportunity provided to him in the next election campaign.

But New Democrats can only grill the prime minister for so long and will need to start talking about what an NDP government would look like more often. A leader auditioning for the job of Official Opposition will usually get it.


Stephen Harper's task in 2014 is no less than to save himself and his party from defeat.

The past year was the worst one in this Conservative government's history, and the next year is not looking to get any better.

Tories need to figure out how to handle the Senate scandal in a better way as the unfolding of the story is completely out of their hands. But dismissing it as a distraction is certainly not the right move.

The auditor general is taking a look at the Senate's books and the RCMP is investigating. Charges could be laid. The Tories' current approach is not working very well — another year of it will only sink the party further.

A focus on the achievements of this government is also not enough. If Canadians feel that the country is doing well enough, they will not merely vote for the Tories in gratitude.

Conservatives will need to lay out what the next term of a Harper government will seek to achieve. Balancing the budget and keeping things humming along will not be an effective campaign slogan if Canadians no longer trust the Conservatives in power.

After mounting several of them, another overtly negative, fear-inducing campaign will have diminishing returns, and serve to simply confirm the perception the Tories are courting as, to borrow a phrase from Great Britain, the "nasty party." It may have worked before, but the party cannot only give Canadians a reason not to vote for the other guy.

Harper will need to give that 10 per cent of Canadians who have left the party in the last few years a reason to come back, or he’ll be joining the march to the exit.

Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers every week. Grenier is the author of ThreeHundredEight.com, covering Canadian politics, polls and electoral projections.

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  • Sen. Mike Duffy shields his eyes as he arrives at the Senate on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013.

  • Justin Trudeau delivers his victory speech in the Federal Liberal leadership in Ottawa on Sunday, April 14, 2013.

  • Canadian Astronaut and ISS commander Chris Hadfield is framed by spacesuits as he performs David Bowie's Space Oddity on the International Space Station, published on Sunday May 12, 2013.

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper walks past a projector following a Chinese New Years event in Burnaby, B.C., Friday, February, 8, 2013.

  • Stompin' Tom Connors' hat lies on his casket at the Stompin' Tom Connors memorial in Peterborough, Ontario on Wednesday March 13, 2013.

  • Smoke rises from railway cars that were carrying crude oil after derailing in downtown Lac Megantic, Que, Saturday, July 6, 2013. Crude oil moved along Canadian railway lines in unprecedented volumes in 2013 as delays in building new pipelines caused oil companies, clamouring to reach the most lucrative markets, to seek out alternative paths. The crude-by-rail trend had been gathering steam quietly in recent years. But after the disaster in Lac Megantic, Que., it could no longer fly under the radar.

  • Calgarians look out over a flooded Calgary Stampede grounds and Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., Friday, June 21, 2013.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford addresses the media outside office in Toronto on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. Ford was responding to a new video that was released.

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  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut on Tuesday, August 20, 2013.

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