A look at the year ahead

Gerry Phelan
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It’s crystal ball time. Like all pundits and armchair experts, it’s time for me put it all out there in black and white — and electronically — so that a dozen months from now you can scold me for what was right and what was wrong.
Here are my predictions for the coming year. 

On the political side, I’m betting Kathy Dunderdale will give more consideration to calling it a day. Ross Reid has done wonders since he took over as her chief of staff in August, but even if the Tories resist a continued slide in the polls and the numbers stabilize, I think the party will want new blood to carry them into the next election. I’ll bet some in cabinet and outside are beginning to taste a leadership battle. We’ll see.

I believe Lorraine Michael is headed for a similar decision, but I believe she will leave on her own terms.

Dwight Ball has the leadership question put to rest, and I think we’ll see the Liberals organize like they haven’t done in decades to prepare for the next trip to the polls. They appear to have come out of the leadership contest in good shape; now, to keep it that way.

On the federal scene, it will be a year of reflection. The next national trip to the polls, as with the province, isn’t until late 2015. There has been some speculation in Ottawa that Stephen Harper may take a walk in the snow to consider his political future.

Listening to his year-end messages, there is little doubt he still loves the role of prime minister. The Senate scandal will continue to haunt his government, and if there were criminal charges against some of those involved it would make things a tad uncomfortable.

Gerry Byrne will continue to toy with the idea of provincial politics. He has already indicated he has some interest, and having supported Dwight Ball for the provincial leadership, it is now more likely than ever.

Jack Harris will ponder if he’s run his last campaign. Harris is a true veteran of the federal and provincial scene. He was first elected federally more than a quarter century ago, and has also served in the House of Assembly.   

Ryan Cleary now has some political experience under his belt. He is ambitious, but if the stars don’t line up for an NDP victory federally, he might consider a shot at the provincial leadership, if and when it opens up.

Sheilagh O’Leary is too valuable a voice to be silenced. She may surface again in the local media. I don’t believe for a moment that her thirst for political service has been quenched.

On the municipal scene, expect a year of much debate over development issues. St. John’s is growing upwards and outwards. The strain on infrastructure is immense and if Dannyland to the west materializes as predicted, things will only get worse, or better, depending on how you look at it.

All these demands, especially in the metro area, will prompt Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Kent to leave his mark on that department with a new fiscal arrangement for towns and cities. St. John’s, as the capital, deserves special consideration, and with the region beginning to act more like one, Kent will likely use his political smarts to bring something new to the table that will make the best use of the available dollars.

My mom says the news is all fish and oil; the coming year will include more of the same. The prospects to develop the newest finds offshore, the Hebron project, offshore safety and, finally, the fishery of the future, given our new relationship with the European Union, will all be prominent.

And on the heels of the financially successful Eagles concert last year, expect Salmonfest organizers to have learned from the public relations backlash to redeem themselves in 2014. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see at least one promoter announce an outdoor show with a big name act in St. John’s.  

All these are just random thoughts as we enter 2014, the 14th year of the 21st century. Happy new year, all!  

 

Gerry Phelan is a journalist and former broadcaster. He can be reached at gerryp@bellaliant.net.

Organizations: NDP, European Union

Geographic location: Ottawa, Hebron

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  • SayWhat
    January 07, 2014 - 12:33

    You forgot one..The beginning of the end of the St.John's Ice Caps.