Power & Politics: Top 5 political moves of 2017

CBC News Network's Power & Politics has combed through this year's archives to bring you some of the political highlights of 2017. Here, we turn our attention to the top political moves of the year.

Who made the most masterful political moves of the year? The Power Panel counts down the top strategies

Jason Kenney celebrates his October victory as the first official leader of Alberta's United Conservative Party in Calgary, Alta. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press )

What were the top political moves of 2017?

CBC News Network's Power & Politics has combed through this year's archives to bring you some of the political highlights of 2017. Here, we turn our attention to the top five political moves of the year.

The Power Panel — Crestview Strategy's Chad Rogers, Toronto's AM640 morning show host Supriya Dwivedi, Summa Strategies' Robin MacLachlan and the CBC's Chris Hall  — helps the CBC's David Cochrane count down the political moves of the year.

5. Trudeau the Trump whisperer

Top 5 political moves: Trudeau as Trump whisperer 8:00

It may not be the bromance Justin Trudeau shared with former U.S. president Barack Obama, but there's little doubt that Trudeau's relationship with Obama's successor has been more cordial than many of Trump's run-ins with other world leaders.

Trudeau's Trump strategy has focused more on co-operation than condemnation, choosing to maintain a friendly dialogue than to wade in on controversial positions such as Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate deal or his decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

So is Trudeau the Trump whisperer? And will his approach to the unpredictable leader of the free world pay off for Canada?

4. Brad Wall's political positioning

Top 5 political moves: Brad Wall's positioning 8:59

Brad Wall's final year as Saskatchewan's premier came packed with a punch. On more than one occasion, Wall showed he wasn't afraid to lock horns with Ottawa, speaking out against Ottawa's carbon tax plan and maintaining a loud pro-pipeline voice. 

He also didn't hesitate to wade into provincial spats with Alberta or take aim at the new Governor General Julie Payette's speech criticizing religion and creationism

And yet, Wall's outspokenness seems to have paid off — after 14 years as the leader of the Saskatchewan Party, Wall will resign in 2018 as the most popular premier in Canada.

What's his secret to staying on the top of the popularity polls? And who will step up to replace him as a conservative provincial opposition to the federal government? 

3. Jason Kenney's long game

Top 5 political moves: Jason Kenney's long game 8:05

Jason Kenney's New Year resolution for 2017 may have seemed daunting — win Alberta's Progressive Conservative leadership race in March, unite the PCs with Alberta's Wild Rose party in May, and then win the leadership of a new United Conservative Party in October.

One year later, though, and Kenney can check all three of those goals off his political to-do list. All what's left? According to Kenney; toppling Alberta's NDP government.  That gives the former federal cabinet minister one year to solidify his base and win over new supporters before Alberta enters into the 2019 election year.

Whatever 2018 holds for the new leader of the UCP, it's hard to argue his political long game didn't pay off in 2017. 

2. Feds divide and conquer

Top 5 political moves: Feds divide and conquer 7:51

If proof is needed of how quickly things can change, just look at where the provinces and federal government stood on health care one year ago. 

In December 2016, the provinces rejected an $11.5 billion health deal; the provinces and the federal government could not agree on the rate at which base federal funding for health care would increase each year.

The provincial united front backfired as the federal government approached provinces and territories individually to cut deals. One by one, the provinces folded, with Manitoba as the final holdout until reaching an agreement in August, 2017. As the year draws to a close, the bilateral deal approach appears to have paid off for Ottawa.

The star of the show? Former health minister Jane Philpott, who now heads the Ministry of Indigenous Services. But Philpott insists the government's approach wasn't about sowing division in the provincial ranks.

"This is not about divide and conquer," she said in March. 

"It took some time for several provinces to reflect on this, and on reflection, as they looked at this and realized that this will, in fact, be extremely helpful, they have in their own time come to an agreement with us." 

1. B.C. NDP and Green deal

Top 5 political moves: B.C. NDP-Green deal 8:38

In May, B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark narrowly won the provincial election to stay on as Premier. But with only a two-seat edge, her control didn't last long.

The Green Party's agreement to support the second-place NDP — a coalition that ended 16 years of Liberal rule in the province — was a stunning blow to Clark's political career and a bold beginning to an at-times tempestuous marriage between the Greens and the NDP. 

How will the power-sharing agreement work out in the upcoming year? Who got the better part of the bargain? The Power Panel dives into the year's most dramatic deal.


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