This will be the year that the honeymoon wears off for Stephen McNeil and his happy band of Liberals.
That’s no reflection on them: political honeymoons never last more than a year.
The fun question is how far they can get into 2014 before it's gone. In 2010, Darrell Dexter got as far as February.
The first major political event of 2014 will be the report of the Nova Scotia Commission on Building Our New Economy — which thankfully is better known as the Ivany Commission.
The Dexter government set it up in late 2012 to look at economic development prospects for rural Nova Scotia.
Premier Stephen McNeil has indicated (including in year-end interviews with the CBC's Steve Sutherland and Don Connolly) that he'll put a lot of weight on what the Ivany Commission has to say.
It's unlikely the Ivany Commission will come up with anything really new, but the quality of the people — besides Ray Ivany, the commission includes Susanna Fuller, Dan Christmas, Irene d’Entremont and John Bragg — and the commission's extensive public consultations will give its report heft and momentum.
The new government will do well to catch the wave.
MLA pay and perks an ongoing issue
At the end of March we’ll see the report of another commission, this one dealing with MLA remuneration.
The appointees are fine — former auditor general Roy Salmon, along with John Merrick and Janet Hazelton — but so were the appointees on the last pay commission, and the one before that, and the one before that.
The premier is being naïve if he thinks this report will make the issue go away.
The issue will never go away until MLAs are working as volunteers. No new ideas will emerge in this latest report, but it will put MLA pay and perks in the news right at budget time.
New budget real indicator
The McNeil government's first budget can be expected in the first half of April. They're working on it now, and have been since they were sworn in.
If you want to understand what any government is really all about, don't listen to their speeches — read their budget. In some ways it's all that matters.
The conventional wisdom is that any tough stuff has to be done in the first two years.
I don't detect, so far, any inclination in the new government to do anything tough.
This new government is still on its honeymoon. Everybody is hopeful, but there's only so much money to go around. When the budget comes down, reality — and its cousin, disappointment — will sink in for some.
NDP leadership in question
There are also a couple of leadership stories ahead in 2014.
Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie has volunteered for an early leadership review. That will happen at his party’s annual general meeting in early February.
Watch for him to pass with banners flying. Although his party picked up only one more seat in 2013 than it did in 2009, and two percentage points more of the vote, Baillie exceeded expectations. In politics, that's at least half the battle. His party will be happy to give him at least one more shot at the premier's office, and probably more.
The NDP will also be talking leadership in 2014, after the departure of Darrell Dexter. The first decision is when to hold the leadership convention.
If the NDP is smart, they'll hold off until 2015. The Progressive Conservatives waited two years after losing government in 1993 and the Liberals did the same in 1999.
Maureen MacDonald brings experience and ability to the job of interim leader. A party still reeling from its election collapse shouldn't be in any rush to replace her.
So those are the main things to watch for in 2014. Of course, the most politically significant events are often those we don't see coming.
In the first bright days of 2010, with the Dexter government still on its honeymoon, the MLA expense scandal hadn't yet been thought of. In the first bright days of 2011, the paper mills in Point Tupper and Brooklyn were still operating.
For Stephen McNeil and his Liberals, these first bright days of 2014 look just fine.
Oh, and one more thing for 2014: if all goes well, you'll once again be able to book your passage on the Yarmouth ferry.