Huron-Bruce MP Paul Steckle doesn't think he'll be able to retire this year:
He doesn't foresee an issue in the near future that will unite opposition parties and topple the Conservative government...
...and with the Tories even to down a few points in most recent polls, I can't see them going out of their way to pick a big fight. Rather, I see them flying the CPoC helicopter over Montreal and Quebec city around budget time and shovelling money out the side. I see them passing legislation of make the Habs the Stanley Cup winners in perpetuity.
Remember Gille's Duceppe's stirring words last March:
We will support this budget because it gives more money to Quebec in equalization payments.
Expect similarly elevated rhetoric this year.
The only possible wild-card in this scenario is the Afghanistan. Given popular sentiment at the moment, and the fact that Dion and the rest of the oppo parties are lined up with popular sentiment against the extension of the mission, I see either the Tories 1) caving outright, or 2) trying to "rag the puck" into 2009 when Canada's practical ability to extract our army by the end of the year will decrease to zero. Since the latter option means our troops are still dying in 2010, which presumably must be an election year, I suspect we will see a parliamentary vote this Spring that brings the curtain down on our current mission in Afghanistan, and the government of the day will not treat this vote as a matter of confidence.
PS. I noted that Chantal Hébert argues in her column today that public opinion is "divided" on the question of our role in Afghanistan. Well, yes that is true. They are divided into one very large group that opposese the extension of the mission, and a very small group that supports it. Here's hoping Dion listens to the very large group.