Press-Republican

Black

December 30, 2011

Milestone year for Canada

It may be an admission of lack of imagination or narrowness to declare that the highlights of the waning year in Canada were mostly about politics.

In the case of 2011, though, there's little debate that it was an extraordinary year in the comings and goings of those who sought to govern the country, one that is likely to have an impact for many years to come.

There's a bit of a toss-up over what was the most momentous thing that arose out of the stunning result of the federal election in May. For the record, those main outcomes were: Prime Minister Stephen Harper winning a strong Conservative majority government; the left-wing New Democratic Party winning a huge number of seats in Quebec, enough to propel it to official Opposition status; the reduction of the once mighty Liberal Party to its worst showing ever; and the de facto obliteration of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, down to four seats.

As if this massive tectonic shift in the federal political firmament were not enough drama, there was the sudden, shocking and cruel death of New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton, felled by an unspecified cancer at age 61.

Layton's death in August immediately forced a rethink of the longer-term prospects of the party he had brought to the doorstep of power, quite possibly forming an historic first New Democratic Party federal government come the next vote. The party's success was almost entirely based on the sudden affection Quebecers discovered for Layton's relentless optimism and socially progressive stance.

Whatever fate awaits the New Democratic Party, now in the midst of a leadership campaign, the fact remains Stephen Harper has a solid lock on power for four years, having already served as prime minister for five years in a minority situation. Based on actions taken so far, it's clear to political observers the prime minister fully intends to take the country in a new direction.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Black
  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg The story behind the Demuin cannon

    When I go for my morning walk on the Plains of Abraham, scene of a seminal battle in the Seven Years War, I sometimes stop and examine a relic of a subsequent global conflict: a cannon captured in France in the First World War, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    August 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg The friendly Commonwealth Games

    The 20th Commonwealth Games are now underway in Glasgow, Scotland, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Quebec's proliferation of festivals

    Woodstock en Beauce celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Quebec City's English paper a survivor

    In a city stocked with beautiful, interesting and historic buildings, the five-story gem located at perhaps the busiest corner in Old Quebec doesn't attract much attention, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    June 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadian hockey Kings

    As of this writing, the Los Angeles Kings have either already quaffed from their second Stanley Cup or are on the verge of closing out the New York Rangers, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    June 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Remembering the forgotten Empress

    The Titanic gets the most attention, what with the epic drama of the 1912 sinking of an incomparable luxury liner, stocked with celebrities, on its maiden voyage.

    May 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadians among TV conspirators

    Call me weird, paranoid, a child of Watergate and Contragate or just a connoisseur of tense political drama, but my current three favorite TV programs are about conspiracies in America, each in a different era of U.S. history, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Hurons gamble on Quebec

    When we were kids, our parents took us to visit Sainte Marie among the Hurons, the restoration of the settlement French missionaries built in 1639 in what is now central Ontario, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    May 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Big shift in Quebec vote

    Being a man of science, Philippe Couillard, premier-designate of Quebec, chose to use a geological term (though his field is actually medicine) to describe what happened in Monday's election, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo