The Annual Proof Countdown of the Political Hits (and Misses)
2019–The “You Need To Calm Down” Edition
As country singer Merle Haggard sang about December, “it’s meant to be the happy time of year.” So that makes the annual job of a look back at our political year that much more difficult. Whether in Canada, the US or the UK, rancour seemed the order of the day. Impeachment to the south of us, Brexit to the east, and we were stuck in the middle with an election (partly thanks to fixed election dates) that seemed to go on and on.
Where to begin? Perhaps with a little bit of hope in the face of adversity? 2019 was “the year of climate awakening for Canada,” according to Catherine Abreu of Climate Action Network Canada. Indeed, in September hundreds of thousands of Canadians marched across Canada, with a noticeable influx of younger Canadians (perhaps due to the example of Greta Thunberg), demanding more action on climate change from their governments (so much for apathy). And following the Canadian election, some of the criticism aimed at now-former Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer (more on him later) centered on the perceived weakness of the Conservative environmental plan. All of this led to the Canadian Press naming climate change as their story of 2019. So in honour of the determination of Canadians to show their love of the planet, to them we dedicate Matty Mays’ “Let There Be Love.”
NAFTA? CUSMA? Son of NAFTA? Whatever it’s called—it’s done. After years of threats, frustration and infighting (and that was just the President’s staff) the Canada-U.S.-Mexico trade deal was completed on December 10th. Newly minted Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland described the deal as a “win-win-win.” Well then. To recognize the amazing occurrence of a three-way win, we dedicate Billie Eilish’s “everything I wanted.”
While climate change was the story of the year, the newsmaker of the year, as chosen by Canadian Press was Jody Wilson-Raybould. Very early into 2019, the path into the election became rockier for the governing Liberals as the SNC scandal broke. Living in Ottawa, we can attest that there seemed to be a contest as to who could say “SNC” the fastest, turning the initials into some sort of oddly mashed name that was on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Within weeks, former Liberal Cabinet Ministers Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott were no longer not just in cabinet, but also gone from the Liberal Caucus, and the Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary, Gerry Butts, had left PMO. The SNC issue left a long shadow over the fall election, seeing the Liberals reduced to a minority. Wilson-Raybould returned as an Independent MP (but not out of the news), with Philpott not re-elected. Due to our backgrounds, those of us in the Proof Ottawa bunker tend to have a bias toward the hard-working staffers on the Hill, and thinking of those poor souls who had to deal with the SNC-JWR fallout we propose Alanis Morrisette’s “Reasons I Drink.”
As rough a year as it was for the Liberals, the election and resulting fallout for Andrew Scheer… well, if you’ve stepped down as Conservative Leader, that pretty much says it all. The haste and ferocity of how the Conservative Party handled it was the subject of much curiosity, including a long read from Macleans describing it as a “takedown.” For the Conservative Party, it seems to be a pretty strong case of “it’s not you, it’s me” and so we dedicate Selena Gomez’s Lose You to Love Me.
Well, we’re almost there, the end of the column, the end of the year. A year that saw Canada have a bitterly fought election, with the United States facing the impeachment of their President going into their election. Phrases like “cancel culture” entered the lexicon. People learned how to quickly block and report on Twitter. The movie version of “CATS” came out. (Kidding. Sort of.) Can we be blamed if we find it all a little exhausting? So let our last dedication be to all of us, and take some good Swiftian (Taylor not Jonathan) advice: “You Need To Calm Down.”
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all the best for 2020.