Don Martin's prediction on whether Trudeau will stick around for ...

21 Dec 2022
Don Martin's prediction on whether Trudeau will stick around for ...
Find out what 'the best brains in Canadian politics' are predicting for Canadian politics in 2023, in Don Martin's exclusive column for

After decades of mostly wrong personal predictions for the year ahead, it’s time to consult the best brains in Canadian politics for their view of Major Events 2023.

There’s a handful of former senior staffers, a former party leader, a top business voice and a veteran parliamentary observer in this Very Smart People mix, all granted anonymity so they can deliver fearless crystal-ball insights to improve on my usual never-came-to-pass list.

The respected business leader sees a psychological recession coming in 2023 driven by the fact that “if everybody says there’s going to be a recession, there’s a recession. The adjustments we make to prepare for it trigger what we’re hoping to avoid.”

The government’s key budget focus next year will be to compete against the U.S. President Joe Biden’s frenzy of spending aimed at luring investment back to America.

“They’re creating a giant vacuuming sound for Canadian investment and talent.”

A former party leader studying the Alberta landscape says that province’s brand-new premier should already prepare for a job change. “Danielle Smith won’t survive and may even exit before the election (scheduled for May),” they predicted.

There’s a caveat however in that Smith has surrounded herself with decent staff, which could save her from herself.

A widely respected parliamentary watcher with four decades on the Hill agreed, saying the government needs to deliver a match-the-money budget to keep industry and investment in this country. “If we don’t get in front of this train, we’ll be screwed.”

He also predicted the NDP, weary of not seeing a popularity payoff from propping up the government, will cancel the deal. And Trudeau will announce he’s not seeking re-election in late fall.

A former top Liberal staffer sees a ‘substantive cabinet shuffle this winter” with Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino getting the boot for his uneven performance, particularly surrounding the trucker convoy.

She sees recent byelection winner and former Ontario finance minister Charles Sousa getting the nod for a senior cabinet job, although another white male minister from Toronto is seen as problematic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stays on, but there’s no election next year even though sitting Liberal MPs have been told to declare themselves standing for re-election by March 1.

A politically neutral veteran strategist sees a constitutional “fracas” between Ottawa and “attention-seeking premiers preying on malcontents” erupting on the horizon while raging epidemics in childrens’ hospitals will force changes in the health care system.

He sees a spring 2023 election, particularly if the NDP’s popularity rises to seat-gaining levels, because the Conservatives are itching to take on Trudeau before he opts to retire.

A long-time Conservative insider says Alberta Premier Danielle Smith will make a few more mind-blowing missteps, which gets her MLAs grumbling she’s ‘not ready for prime time”.

But, he notes in an interesting twist, should Smith rise from the grave and win the May election, watch for Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley to quit and be on standby as frontrunner to replace federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh should he decide fatherhood is more fun than leadership.

A retired staffer under federal and provincial ministers predicts Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre will have an uncharacteristically calm year as he aims to become a “younger, perhaps more personally popular and fluently bilingual Stephen Harper.”

He sees little change in Trudeau’s top-down arrogant style of leadership because the PMO believes it’s on track to win again under the status quo.

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As for his safest prediction, my source says Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland will quit to become secretary general of NATO next fall, the better to cleanse herself of widespread Trudeau loathing before a Liberal leadership bid in the future.

And if you switch to not-as-smart prognosticators, specifically me, look for Trudeau to shuffle ministers linked to the trucker convoy ahead of a critical February report by inquiry Commissioner Paul Rouleau.

I agree Chrystia Freeland will land the top NATO gig and expect Trudeau will take his walk in the snow toward retirement in early 2024. Which, given by usual batting average, means Trudeau will stick around for another election with Freeland by his side and refrain from any cabinet changes ahead of a favourable Rouleau report.

That’s the bottom line.

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