The media is full of recaps of the year's past events, so rather than add another repetitive article to that collection I thought it would might be more interesting to look at what lies ahead.
With that in mind, here are four key questions where the answer to each may determine who is running this province by this time next year:
1. Can Premier Christy Clark rebuild her popularity with the voters?
She has a serious problem here. Her unpopularity seems entrenched with the majority of British Columbians, especially among women. She insists she can lead her party to an election victory in the spring purely on the strength of her campaigning abilities.
But there's a big downside to that theory. In an election campaign, she will be front and centre all day and every night in front the voters and it could well mean people get even more tired of hearing and seeing her - resulting in her standing with people sinking even lower, rather than improving.
It's highly unlikely a political party - especially one in power for more than a decade - can hold onto government if its leader is unpopular. Unfortunately for the B.C. Liberals, that is precisely the challenge they may have to overcome come the spring vote.
2. Can Adrian Dix maintain his cautious approach through the beginning of the New Year and all the way through an election campaign?
So far, Dix has given no indication he's going to change his message any time. And the continued strong showing in the polls by both him and his party suggest there's no reason to.
The B.C. Liberals will no doubt run a long, negative campaign against Dix and frame it in highly personal terms.
I suspect Dix won't take the bait and will stick to his own message.
But here's Dix's challenge: can he keep his own team of candidates in check and prevent them from going negative, or offering less than moderate policies? A couple of slip-ups by his own team could shatter his ongoing attempt to portray himself as a moderate, patient leader-in-waiting.
3. What role will the two minor political parties play in the next election?
The B.C. Conservatives have gone from being a potentially significant force in B.C. politics to once again sliding into fringe party status, beset by comic buffoonery and amateur bungling. The party is almost broke and cannot guarantee it will even be able to run a full slate of candidates.
At best, the party may win a couple of seats (the Peace River ridings are potentially their friendliest region) but otherwise may attract enough disaffected B.C. Liberal voters in a few ridings to allow the NDP to snag a few seats it otherwise wouldn't have a chance of winning.
As for the Green Party, it may have a shot at winning one or two seats (a big maybe) on Vancouver Island, where the party is strongest.
The key riding to watch will be Oak Bay-Gordon Head, where well-known climatologist Andrew Weaver is running.
He will either win, or take enough B.C. Liberal and NDP voters to allow incumbent Ida Chong to hang on in a tight race.
But the Greens are simply not a force on the broader provincial stage. While it's incorrect to assume Green voters are more closely aligned with the NDP than any other party, it is likely their vote eats into NDP support more substantially than others.
Therefore, if the election turns out to be close between the B.C. Liberals and the NDP, at best the Greens will play a spoiler role and allow the B.C.
Liberals to win a few tight races.
4. Will any single issue dominate politics in the coming year?
It is unlikely one new issue will suddenly emerge as the key issue as the election cycle heads into the homestretch. The B.C. Liberals will insist the big issue is which party is most reliable and competent when it comes to managing the economy, while the NDP will continue to stress its theme that the next vote comes down to who can you trust, and that it's time for a change at the top.
Other issues will come and go, but in the end, those two themes will be hammered home again and again as voting day nears.
You might as well get used to it.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Email your thoughts on this issue to firstname.lastname@example.org or snail-mail a letter to Suite 201-7889 132nd Street, Surrey, B.C., V3W 4N2. Include full name, address and phone number for verification purposes.
Keith Baldrey is chief political reporter for Global BC Keith.Baldrey@globalnews.ca
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