With key allies at risk of defeat, 2018 could be a tough year for Trudeau’s Liberals
Ontario’s Wynne, Quebec’s Couillard face tough odds, though both have plausible paths to re-election
By Éric Grenier, CBC News
Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won’t be facing the electorate in 2018, but two of their key provincial allies will. If Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard meet their political ends this year, it could prove to be an annus horribilis for the Liberals.
The links between Trudeau’s entourage and Queen’s Park, where the Liberals have held power since 2003, run deep, and Wynne is the closest ally the federal government has among the provincial premiers. Couillard is one of the most federalist premiers in Quebec’s history.
Both face long re-election odds. The polls suggest they are on track to be replaced by figures on the centre-right.
Neither Patrick Brown, leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, nor François Legault, head of Coalition Avenir Québec, is a particularly strident opponent of the Trudeau government. But losing the familial links the prime minister has with the two most powerful premiers in the country could inject a dose of unpredictability into federal-provincial relations.
Other Canadian elections may not prove as problematic. Brian Gallant, another close ally of the Trudeau Liberals, is leading the polls in New Brunswick and looks set to secure re-election in September. Municipal elections in Ontario are also likely to return friendly mayors like John Tory in Toronto and Jim Watson in Ottawa.
But the Liberals have not had to get used to defeats since Trudeau won the federal leadership in 2013. Provincial Liberals took power in Nova Scotia in 2013, New Brunswick and Quebec in 2014 and Newfoundland and Labrador in 2015.
Wynne’s Liberals were elevated from a minority to a majority government in 2014, and the Liberals were re-elected in Prince Edward Island in 2015.
The Conservatives had a better run in 2016, when Brad Wall’s conservative Saskatchewan Party was re-elected and Brian Pallister’s PCs took office in Manitoba. The past year has been mixed for the Liberals, who did see Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil re-elected but saw the defeat of a sometimes-ally in British Columbia when Christy Clark was ousted by an alliance of New Democrats and Greens.
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