Politics

Power & Politics: Top 5 political blunders of 2016

What were the biggest political blunders of the year? CBC News Network's Power & Politics counts down the top cringeworthy moments of 2016.

From 'Elbowgate' to underestimating Donald Trump, there were plenty of political pratfalls this year

Justin Trudeau's comments on the death of controversial Cuban president Fidel Castro landed him in hot water both at home and internationally. (Christ Wattie/Prensa Latina/Reuters)

All it takes is the fumble of a football or an unfortunately timed high-pitched scream to derail a political career. So what were the most cringeworthy moments of 2016?

CBC News Network's Power & Politics has combed through this year's archives to bring you some of the political highlights of 2016. Today, we turn our attention to the top political blunders of the year.

The Power Panel — Tim Powers and Lindsay Doyle of Summa Strategies, Ian Capstick of MediaStyle and the Huffington Post's Althia Raj — helps Rosemary Barton count down the political pratfalls.

5. Elbowgate

Top 5 political blunders: 'Elbowgate' 7:18

The prime minister elbowed his way into trouble during a testy vote in the House of Commons in May — and the classic, if overused, -gate suffix was immediately attached to the viral moment. 

So how serious was "Elbowgate"? Were the optics of the elbow incident bad enough to have a lasting impact on Trudeau's reputation, or was his public mea culpa in the House enough to make amends?

4. EU referendum

Top 5 political blunders: EU referendum 7:38

If David Cameron could do it all again, would he still call a referendum on whether Britain should stay in the European Union? Brexit cost the prime minister his job, and left the United Kingdom, well, divided. 

As the U.K. continues to wrestle with the implications of the vote, what impact will the decision to leave the EU have in the long term?

3. Electoral reform

Top 5 political blunders: Electoral reform 8:54

The Liberals' campaign promise that the 2015 federal election would be the last under the first-past-the-post system has proven to be more of a political headache than they bargained for.

Whether it was backlash over Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef's admonishment to the electoral reform committee or the opposition blasting the government's electoral reform survey as a "dating website designed by Fidel Castro," changing the way Canadians vote is not proving a simple matter.

2. Trudeau's Castro statement

Top 5 political blunders: PM's Castro comments 7:22

Justin Trudeau's ode on the death of controversial Cuban president Fidel Castro had tongues wagging both at home and internationally.

Expressing "deep sorrow" to hear of Castro's death at age 90, Trudeau remembered the late president as a "legendary revolutionary and orator" and said Castro had been a good friend of his father's. 

The backlash was immediate, and included people weighing in on social media using the hashtag #trudeaueulogies, as well as former U.S. Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio tweeting their criticism. 

When asked point blank by the CBC's Catherine Cullen whether he believes Castro was a dictator, however, Trudeau was blunt: "Yes."

1. Pollsters and pundits

Top 5 political blunders: pollsters and pundits 10:19

They said it was impossible, but they were wrong. The pollsters, pundits and prognosticators who said Donald Trump wouldn't make it to the White House are P&P's top political blunder of 2016.

So how did no one see Trump's victory coming? And what does the inability to accurately gauge Trump's support say about who or what pollsters, media and pundits rely on as information in political horse races?

Be sure to check in all week as Power & Politics counts down the Top 5 newsmakers and political blunders of 2016, plus issues and players to watch in the year ahead.

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