Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
J.J. McCullough


Media Bites: Predictions for 2014 -- Prepare to Hear the Word "No"

Posted: 12/27/2013 8:31 am

In the world of Canadian politics, 2013 was one of those years where interesting things seemed perennially on the brink of happening, but rarely did.

Though everyone spent a great deal of time pondering the polls, we only saw a single election of note  --  British Columbia's  --  and that one was remarkable only in how solidly it broke for the status quo. Two big scandals involving two big men -- Mike Duffy and Rob Ford  --  hogged the headlines for months, but neither head ended up rolling. Contentious new policies on controversial issues brought only warnings of political consequences  --  the electoral repercussions of Premier Marois' infamous "values charter," for instance  --  or simply weren't made in the first place.

2014, in short, will be a year that spends a lot of time providing closure to the unanswered questions of 2013. My guess is there'll be a lot of "no's."

Here are some predictions:

Parliament will not fulfill its court-ordered obligation of writing a workable, compassionate prostitution law

For decades, everyone knew Canada's Victorian-era prostitution rules  --  which criminalize soliciting and "living off the avails," but not the actual purchase of sex  --  were archaic and unsustainable, but since there was little short-term capital to be gained in updating them, no government ever bothered to fix them. Even after the Supreme Court's landmark Bedford ruling, that's still the case today.

Displaying the trademark not-quite-activist-not-quite-deferential attitude her court's been known for, last week Chief Justice McLachlin gave the House of Commons a year --  which is to say, until December 20, 2014  --  to update the country's unreasonable prostitution laws in a fashion that may "regulate against nuisances, but not at the cost of the health, safety and lives of prostitutes"  --  as the court claimed our current, John-friendly legal regime does.

It's hard to imagine any party benefiting politically from backing a new law that meets such criteria. Which makes it all the more likely none will be written.

Justin Trudeau probably figures he's already taken enough lumps from the tough-on-crime crowd for supporting legalized pot; backing legalized hookers too would swing Canada's "centrist option" to the fringe of the anything-goes left. Likewise for the new, pragmatic NDP of Tom Mulcair. The Tory government, meanwhile, can't win either way. Social conservatives are pushing for an unambiguous ban on buying sex, but as the CBC notes, it's likely the courts would find such a law just as constitutionally dubious as the ban on selling. That leaves decriminalization and regulation, but what Conservative prime minister wants that in his legacy?

It's entirely possible nothing will be done. We may recall that several decades ago the Supreme Court asked parliament to write some new abortion laws after declaring the old ones inadequate. They're still waiting.

The Senate will not be reformed

The main reason why the ugliness of the Duffy-Brazeau-Wallin-Harb Senate expense mess hasn't been used by the Harper administration as a pretext for unveiling a sweeping agenda of Senate reform is because said administration made a rather unexpectedly ill-timed decision several months ago to ask the Supreme Court to set some ground rules. The court only began its hearings in November, and the attorneys general of every province (sans sympathetic Alberta and Saskatchewan) have dispatched lawyers to argue against the constitutionality of any process of Senate revision that does not feature a substantial role for their bosses, the premiers.

Though the constitutional questions involved in all this are complicated, it's hard to imagine the Supreme Court  -- this Supreme Court, at least  --  concluding that the federal government has as much unilateral power to change the Senate as it's desperately hoping. Even if the Supremes only rule partially against the feds  --  for instance, by saying parliament can pass a law imposing Senate term limits but not elections  --  the unappetizing task that would have to come next. Getting two-thirds of the provincial governments representing half the Canadian population to come to some kinda consensus regarding the future of a body most can't agree if we should even have or not, will probably be enough to finally halt the molasses-like march of Senate change altogether.

Neither pipeline will be approved

From the point of view of the Canadian economy, the two biggest figures of 2014 will be President Obama and B.C. Premier Christy Clark, both of whom hold the power to either veto or approve this country's two most ambitious pipeline projects. I suspect neither will.

Though much fuss was made of the National Energy Board's recent green-lighting of the Alberta-to-B.C. Northern Gateway pipeline, Premier Clark's government was quick to deny that this actually meant much of anything. Back in May, her administration explicitly refused to support the pipeline in their testimony to the NEB, and following the Board's ruling last week, her environment minister clarified that's still the case today.

To be sure, the B.C. government remains committed to their absurd Kabuki dance of pretending to be open-minded for approval so long as their "five conditions" are met (in addition to the Energy Board's 209). But the open-ended nature of these demands, which centre around getting the pipeline builders to meet unspecific and immeasurable standards of environmental safety and aboriginal consultation (not to mention guaranteeing B.C. its "fare share" of profits) make them fundamentally political, as opposed to scientific or rational.

With the pipe's approval rating mired in the low 40s, there's simply no partisan benefit for this exceedingly status-conscious and politically-correct Premier to gain from being on the unfashionable side of such an unpopular issue. At best, she'll be looking to give the thing a dignified death.

Ditto for the man in the White House. In America, the contentious Keystone XL project  --  the plan to pipe Alberta crude to refineries in Texas  --  is perceived in even more fiery terms than it is here, with liberal critics playing up the pipeline's links to unique bogeymen of the American left, including corporate lobbyists and the Koch brothers. Last week, 21 of Congress' most liberal members signed an open letter denouncing the environmental consequences of Keystone, a group that included Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whom disillusioned progressives are increasingly floating as a further-left challenger to Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democrat presidential nomination.

With Obama already taking a hit from his liberal base on everything from drones to Obamacare to Edward Snowden, expect to see a veto of Keystone as a last-ditch effort to shore up some left-wing street cred before he finally hobbles out of the Oval Office. That, in turn, will spell bad news for our Keystone-boosting PM.

But not until 2015.

Loading Slideshow...
  • 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.

  • Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi celebrates his re-election as mayor at his campaign party in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Oct. 21, 2013.

  • Kevan Yeats swims after his cat Momo to safety in High River, Alta. on June 20, 2013. Momo the cat has been living a quiet life since gaining global celebrity status when he leapt from a submerged pickup truck and swam for his life in floodwaters that hit southern Alberta last June.

  • Ottawa Senators team captain Daniel Alfredsson acknowledges two young fans who show their appreciation for his team coming back after the 119 day NHL hockey strike ended during training camp in Ottawa on Sunday, January 13, 2013.

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

  • A woman holds a photo as several hundred people attend a community vigil to remember Rehtaeh Parsons at Victoria Park in Halifax on Thursday, April 11, 2013. The girl's family says she ended her own life following months of bullying after she was allegedly sexually assaulted by four boys and a photo of the incident was distributed.

  • Senator Patrick Brazeau is escorted out the Parliament Buildings after he was suspended by from duties by the Senate in Ottawa Tuesday February 12, 2013 .

  • Photographs and flowers are placed at a memorial for Canadian actor Cory Monteith outside the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday July 16, 2013. Monteith's body was found in a room at the hotel Saturday.

  • A person watches a shark swim above during the grand opening of the Ripley's Aquarium of Canada in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013.

  • Rita MacNeil's ashes rest in a teapot at her funeral at St. Mary's Church in Big Pond, N. S. on Monday, April 22, 2013. The 68-year-old singer died in hospital in Sydney, Nova Scotia, following complications from surgery after a recurring infection.

  • Rogers' CEO Nadir Mohamed (left) shares a joke with NHL Commissioner Gary Betman following a news conference in Toronto on Tuesday 26, 2013 as they announced a long term broadcast and multimedia agreement, which provides Rogers with all national rights. Also announced was a multi-year sub-licensing agreement with CBC and TVA sports for the NHL games.

  • Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau poses with two yoga enthusiasts after holding a press conference on the front lawn of Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday June 5, 2013. A yoga class is held on Wednesdays throughout the summer on Parliament Hill.

  • Sen. Pamela Wallin is surrounded by security as she arrives at the Senate on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday Oct.24, 2013.

  • Mourners react outside the funeral for 18-year-old Sammy Yatim in Toronto, Thursday, Aug.1, 2013. Yatim died Saturday morning after receiving multiple gunshot wounds during an "interaction" with police.

  • Father Maurice Frenette conducts mass at the funeral for Noah and Connor Barthe at St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church in Campbellton, N.B. on Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013. The two young boys were killed by a python while they slept in an apartment above an exotic pet store earlier in the week.

  • A small tip of the Lions Gate Bridge sticks out of the fog rolling into Vancouver harbour late Thursday night, Oct. 24, 2013. A weather system has brought heavy fog into Vancouver and the lower mainland for more than a week.

  • A woman gets back into her flooded car on the Toronto Indy course on Lakeshore Boulevard in Toronto on Monday, July 8 2013.

  • Philippe Couillard celebrates after being elected as new leader of the PLQ in Montreal, Sunday, March 17, 2013.

  • Most Read Stories Of 2013

    A look at the most read stories on HuffPost Canada in 2013.

  • 1. Hollie McNish, Poet Shamed By Breastfeeding In Public, Has The Last Word

    "I hate that breasts have become so sexualized that they have lost their original purpose in the public mind. It is acceptable to wear bikinis that cover less, but taboo to feed your child. Overall opinion is that you are less of a mother if you bottle feed, but they won't let you do it in public. Is this just another way to shame us back into roles that were relevant 50 years ago?" <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/07/05/hollie-mcnish-breastfeeding_n_3552062.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL STORY</a> (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis)

  • 2. Chris Farley 'Plays' Rob Ford In Fake Movie Trailer

    Let's face it. The late comedian Chris Farley was the perfect person to play Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. This movie trailer, which features clips from many of Farley's movies, is probably the closest thing we'll ever get to an actual Rob Ford movie. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/11/21/chris-farley-rob-ford-movie_n_4319144.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL STORY</a>

  • 3. Rob Ford Rant Leaves Daily Show's Stewart Howling WHAT?!?

    Jon Stewart devoted more than six minutes to the Toronto mayor Thursday night, ending with utter disbelief at Ford's oral-sex-related rant. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/11/15/daily-show-rob-ford-video_n_4280983.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL STORY</a> (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

  • 4. David Suzuki's Fukushima Warning Is Dire And Scary

    "Three out of the four plants were destroyed in the earthquake and in the tsunami. The fourth one has been so badly damaged that the fear is, if there's another earthquake of a seven or above that, that building will go and then all hell breaks loose." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/11/04/david-suzuki-fukushima-warning_n_4213061.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL STORY</a> (AP Photo/Tomohiro Ohsumi, File)

  • 5. Danny Brown Receives Oral Sex From Fan On Stage, Keeps Rapping

    Fans attending rapper Danny Brown's concert Friday night in Minneapolis got a bit more than they probably bargained for when a female fan appeared to give the musician oral sex while he was on stage. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/04/30/danny-brown-oral-sex_n_3185192.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL STORY</a> (Photo by C Brandon/Redferns via Getty Images)

  • 6. Brett Wilson White Poppy: Former Dragon Defends The Red Poppy

    As discussion in Canada swirled around the virtues of the white poppy this Remembrance Day, Calgary millionaire and former dragon in CBC's Dragon's Den, W. Brett Wilson took to Twitter to defend the red poppy and its significance. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/11/08/brett-wilson-white-poppy_n_4243009.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL STORY</a>

  • 7. Nohmul Pyramid Bulldozed In Belize For Rocks

    "It's a feeling of incredible disbelief because of the ignorance and the insensitivity ... they were using this for road fill. It's like being punched in the stomach, it's just so horrendous.'' <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/05/13/mayan-pyramid-belize_n_3268255.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL STORY</a> (AP Photo/Jaime Awe)

  • 8. Chip Wilson, Lululemon Founder: ‘Some Women's Bodies' Not Right For Our Pants

    “The thing is that women will wear seatbelts that don’t work [with the pants], or they’ll wear a purse that doesn’t work, or quite frankly some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for it.” <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/11/06/lululemon-chip-wilson-womens-bodies_n_4228113.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL STORY</a> (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

  • 9. Woman Pointing Gun At Child's Head Photo Sparks Outrage, International Search

    "I was sent this picture today by a friend who was very distressed to see it on her page. It apparently was posted to see if anybody could find the girl and if they cared well we do care and we have to find this baby as this scares the hell out of me." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/09/11/woman-pointing-gun-child-photo_n_3906514.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL STORY</a>

  • 10. Tim Hortons Lids Letter Voices A Nation's Pain

    An early morning, a rush to get to the car, a long wait in a drive-thru line for precious caffeine, and then it happens. Disaster strikes. A lid fails, the coffee will not hold. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/08/14/tim-hortons-lids-letter-photo_n_3757416.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL POST</a>

  • 11. Reasons The Rest Of Canada Should Be Super Jealous Of Alberta

    Alberta voted in new municipal governments Monday and the two big winners were young, forward-thinking mayors. Naheed Nenshi and Don Iveson are just a couple of the reasons why the rest of Canada should be super jealous of Alberta. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/10/22/calgary-election-edmonton-alberta-2013_n_4142715.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL STORY</a>

  • 12. 'How To Be A Vancouverite' Shows Why People Make Fun Of B.C.

    The rest of Canada has long been convinced B.C. is filled with outdoor-enthusiast health nuts who do nothing but complain about rain and real estate. Now there is proof. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/09/18/how-to-be-a-vancouverite-video_n_3949737.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL STORY</a> (Photo By David Hecker/Getty Images)

  • 13. Paul Hellyer, Ex-Defence Minister, Believes In Aliens

    Canada's former minister of National Defence Paul Hellyer testified at the Citizen Hearing On Disclosure (CHD) last month in Washington D.C. that aliens are living among us and that it is likely at least two of them are working with the U.S. government. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/06/05/paul-hellyer-aliens-ufos-video_n_3390295.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL STORY</a>

  • 14. Canadian Kids Smoke Most Marijuana In Western World: UNICEF

    A new survey from UNICEF has found that more Canadian kids smoke marijuana than anywhere else in the western world. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/04/11/canada-kids-marijuana-unicef_n_3062739.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL STORY</a> (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

  • 15. Turks And Caicos Next Canadian Province? Tory MP Pushes Plan

    It may seem far-fetched, but Conservative MP Peter Goldring believes Turks and Caicos, an archipelago of 40 small islands stretching some 600 square kilometres, could one day become this nation’s 11th province. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/07/02/turks-and-caicos-canadian-province-goldring_n_3536143.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL STORY</a>

  • Most Read Blogs Of 2013

    Most Read Blogs Of 2013 A look at the most read blogs on HuffPost Canada in 2013.

  • Rehtaeh Parsons Was My Daughter

    "Sometimes her heart was too big, sometimes it scared me. They say parents need to teach their children. Instead, it was Rehtaeh who was my teacher. My precious gift. She was the absolute best part of my life." — Glen Canning <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/glen-canning/rehtaeh-parsons-was-my-daughter_b_3056888.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL POST</a>

  • What Miley Cyrus Did Was Disgusting -- But Not For the Reasons You Think

    "What Miley is doing is cultural appropriation. She, a wealthy white woman, is taking elements from black culture in order to achieve a specific image. Her status as a member of a traditionally oppressive race and class means that she is able to pick and choose what parts of black culture she wants to embrace without having to deal with the racism and racialization that black women live with every day." — Anne Theriault <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/anne-theriault-/miley-cyrus-vma-performance_b_3819177.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL POST</a>

  • Why "Sex-Positive" Feminism Is Negative For Me

  • 9 Things Every Woman Should Know About Menstruation

    "Unfortunately, most of us don't know about the intricacies of our cycle and how to really capitalize on these strengths because from the time we hit puberty we're given very little information about it. Why? Because there is a long-standing and deeply-rooted taboo around the subject of menstruation." — Anea Bogue <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/anea-bogue/women-menstruation-_b_3957384.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL POST</a>

  • American Cops Don't Belong in Canada

    "I don't believe Canadians want American police operating and carrying guns in Canada. It's just not right." — Sean Casey, MP <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/sean-casey/border-security-canada_b_3691387.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL POST</a>

  • It's 2013, and Women Are Still Their Breasts

    "It's tiring (and insulting) to watch video after video of fully-clad men sing, while naked and semi-naked ornamental women gyrate sexily around them. Like decorations. Like baubles. Like the tinsel on a tree...." — Toula Foscolos <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/toula-foscolos/justin-timberlake-tunnel-vision_b_3550440.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL POST</a>

  • The Slow and Painful Death of Freedom in Canada

    "Of course we've all had the rhetoric jammed down our throats -- these adjustments to a citizen's right to public assembly, defiant anonymity, and digital privacy are the necessary sacrifices we must be willing to make in order to shelter ourselves from half-heartedly articulated illusory threats such as "terrorism" or "extremism". — <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/adam-kingsmith/canada-freedom-of-press_b_2946418.html" target="_blank">Adam Kingsmith </a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/adam-kingsmith/canada-freedom-of-press_b_2946418.html" target="_blank">READ THE FULL POST</a>


Follow J.J. McCullough on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JJ_McCullough