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The Annual Proof Countdown of Political Hits (and Misses) for 2022: The “Normal Life” Edition

Greg MacEachern

By Greg MacEachern and Josh Zanin, with files from the Proof Strategies Government Relations team.

What. A. YEAR.

A (not quite) 12 months of “normal life” was actually full to the brim with wild, news-worthy stories that made waves in political capitals and captured the attention of Canadians and grizzled politicos alike.

With the finish line in sight (phewf), we invite you to top up a glass, crank up the stereo and cut a rug to the 2022 edition of Proof Strategies’ annual retrospective soundtrack of the year’s political hits (and misses).

Harry Styles – As It Was

After months consumed by the pandemic, by the start of the year, we were all ready to get back to normal life. Some purged their frustrations by posting homemade dance videos on social media, some grumbled about the awkwardness of hybrid meetings — and others set up hot tubs, honked car horns, and occupied the streets of downtown Ottawa. If there was an anthem capturing that chaotic, crashing, calamitous energy, it was Harry Styles’ smash hit (“You know it’s not the same…as it was”).

Beyoncé – Break My Soul

The people of Ukraine have been through horrific tragedies since the Russian invasion in February. We’re in awe of their courage and resiliency. To them, we dedicate this declaration: “you won’t break my soul!”. Sláva Ukrayíni!

Arkells & Cold War Kids – Past Life

Inflation, interest rates, and the climbing cost of living are on everyone’s mind. Canadians from all walks of life have been feeling the squeeze from household bills to gas prices to mortgages. The figure bearing the brunt of everyone’s abuse has been Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem. Meanwhile, his predecessor Mark Carney — who overcame the 2008 financial crisis and then led the Bank of England — is riding high following his book release and chatter of possible political candidacy. A new hit from Hamilton’s Arkells — recorded with California indie stars Cold War Kids — is all about getting out from under a predecessor’s shadow. We feel you, Tiff.

The Weeknd – Out Of Time

Who hasn’t looked back and realized too late they should have treated someone better? This year, Toronto’s The Weeknd channelled that feeling into a chart-topper. And in Canada today, there’s no greater example of embarrassing neglect than the healthcare system. Here at Proof Strategies, we won’t be playing “he said, she said” or pointing fingers at one level of government or another — for everyone’s sake, we’re just hoping this heartbreak gets mended.

Metric – All Comes Crashing

Every once in a while, a political event happens that resets everyone’s calculations — and in March of this year, Jagmeet Singh and Prime Minister Trudeau delivered exactly that. The NDP-Liberal supply and confidence agreement means the Grits can (possibly?) count on the social democrats’ support until June 2025 — which could be a minority government record? However long it lasts, it seems the two parties will work together until it “all comes crashing down.”

The Rolling Stones – The Hand of Fate (Live at the El Mocambo)

This year, provincial leaders saw all kinds of wins and losses. Ontario’s Doug Ford and Quebec’s François Legault scored blockbuster re-elections. In BC, David Eby was picked by NDPers to succeed retiring John Horgan as leader and premier — but the disqualification of his only competitor mired the contest. In Alberta, the UCP’s Jason Kenney resigned, and Danielle Smith took over the helm as premier — while NDP leader Rachel Notley’s image looms large overhead (literally) with an election only months away. This grimy recording of the Stones’ classic “Hand of Fate” — captured at a secret 1977 club show at Toronto’s El Mocambo that was finally released in full this year — perfectly sums up the ups and downs of 2022 provincial politics.

Sza – Good Days

Speaking of provincial premiers: there was a particularly tough moment in November when premiers stated: “no progress” was achieved in healthcare talks that were underway — followed by the feds withdrawing from the summit’s joint closing statement. With some new premiers recently in the mix and four elections slated for 2023 — in Alberta, PEI, the Northwest Territories and Manitoba — perhaps fresh faces could mean a new federal-provincial dynamic? Only time will tell whether there are indeed “good days” ahead on the intergovernmental relations file.

Lizzo – About Damn Time

For federal Conservatives, the last few years have often felt like a bag drag. The party’s leadership has seemed like a revolving door. Conservatives won the popular vote in two back-to-back elections — but still sit on the opposition benches. Now, after Pierre Poilievre won the leadership on the first ballot with nearly 70 percent support from the party faithful — and helped grow the membership to an astounding 678,000 people — it feels like they’ve shifted gears. With a possibility of a change election coming up next, perhaps Conservatives are feeling “it’s about damn time”?

The Killers – Boy

If there’s one file that’s been a serious source of pain in Ottawa, it’s Canada’s relationship with top trade partner China. The two Michaels may be home — but with reports of influencing election candidates, secret “police” stations on Canadian soil, and an awkward public chat between Trudeau and Xi Jinping, there’s been no shortage of challenges. In their new Indo-Pacific Strategy, the government bluntly calls China “increasingly disruptive.” It’s been a rough go. There’s a tune for that: In their latest single, “Boy,” The Killers’ Brandon Flowers tells his younger self that despite tough times there’s a bright horizon ahead. Let’s all hope so.

Taylor Swift – Anti-Hero

For weeks, the Emergencies Act inquiry utterly consumed Ottawa — and revealed all kinds of uncomfortable details about how politicos actually talk to one another. During the hearings, the antics of convoy champions reminded us of Taylor Swift’s latest hit: “it must be exhausting, always rooting for the anti-hero.” Indeed. Here at Proof Strategies, we prefer to root for Brian Fox.

All the best for 2023!