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Canada Parliament: New Year's Resolutions For The Federal Parties

With a new political year on the horizon, each of the parties in the House of Commons could stand to make a few New Year’s resolutions. In addition to encouraging their members to visit the Parliamentary gym more often, here are some of the resolutions each of the parties might want to consider for 2012.

Greens – It was a good year for the Green Party, thanks to the election of their first MP. But while sending Elizabeth May to the House was the stated goal of their campaign, the party nevertheless took a step backwards in terms of national profile, capturing their lowest share of the vote since the 2000 election. Striving to make themselves more of a national party and less of a one-woman show would be a worthy goal for 2012.

Bloc Québécois – With the Parti Québécois on the decline as voters search for something different, the Bloc Québécois could resolve not to underestimate the lack of enthusiasm for the sovereigntist movement at the moment. New leader Daniel Paillé has pledged to talk more about sovereignty. That may force the NDP to defend federalism, a potential problem considering the last CROP poll indicated that 32 per cent of NDP supporters would vote Yes in a new referendum. But pushing sovereignty too hard could backfire on Paillé, as it seems to have during Gilles Duceppe’s doomed May campaign.

Liberals – The next leadership convention is scheduled for early 2013 and the party will use the next twelve months to help amp-up interest in the race. But with the American presidential campaign likely to grab the headlines right up to the November vote, the Liberals must resolve to quell the in-fighting for which the party is notorious. In the face of Barack Obama’s bid for re-election, there will be little room for focus on the Liberal leadership campaign. If the party is not careful, coverage could be limited to stories driven by “anonymous Liberal sources”, particularly if questions about interim leader’s Bob Rae’s intentions continue to re-surface.

New Democrats – With Nycole Turmel as interim leader and eight contenders vying for the full-time job, there is no shortage of voices speaking for the New Democratic Party. But once the NDP chooses its next leader at the end of March, the party might want to resolve to ensure it presents only one message going forward. With the NDP caucus formed by a majority of MPs from Quebec, the party needs to find a way to balance the sometimes differing views and interests of the francophone province and the rest of the country. The NDP has already struggled on this score in terms of the re-allocation of seats in the House of Commons, the long-gun registry and the awarding of shipbuilding contracts to shipyards in Nova Scotia and British Columbia, but not Quebec.

Conservatives – Though the Conservatives have a large degree of control over what happens on Parliament Hill, the party should resolve to recognize the limits of their majority government. The Supreme Court recently demonstrated that the power of Stephen Harper’s majority is not boundless. But in addition to our system’s checks and balances, the Conservatives should also recognize that their majority could end in 2015 and that voters do not always forget so easily. Unpopular measures and abuse of their majority could come back to haunt the party. They should resolve to remember that the ease with which the Conservatives can pass legislation today does not change that the party will be held accountable tomorrow.

Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers on most Tuesdays and Fridays. Grenier is the author of, covering Canadian politics, polls, and electoral projections.

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