Power & Politics Top 5: What to watch in 2018

Time to gaze into our political crystal ball! The Power Panel helps the CBC's David Cochrane count down the top political stories to watch in 2018.

From Trump's mid-term election showdown to votes in Ontario and Quebec, 2018 will be a year to watch

Both Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne will face voters in provincial elections in 2018. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

It has been a packed political year that included unpredictable moves from foreign governments, major trade negotiations, and federal action on key files from marijuana to tax changes. What's on our radar for 2018?

CBC News Network's Power & Politics has combed through this year's archives to bring you some of the political highlights of 2017. Now it's time to turn our attention to the top political stories to watch for in the coming year.

The Power Panel — The Globe and Mail's Kelly Cryderman, Maclean's Paul Wells, Marie Vestel of Le Devoir, and the CBC's Aaron Wherry  — helps the CBC's David Cochrane count down the stories to watch in 2018.

5. Trans Mountain and Keystone

Top 5 stories to watch: Pipelines 9:29

The fates of two pipeline projects remain unclear in 2018, promising to have major political repercussions whether they're approved or not.

The Trans Mountain expansion in British Columbia has received the stamp of approval by both Ottawa and the former B.C. Liberal government. But the province's new NDP premier, John Horgan, has vowed to do everything in his power to stop it. 

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump approved Keystone XL earlier this year, as one of his first moves in office. But the state of Nebraska dealt a blow to TransCanada in November, approving an alternate route which could potentially throw more hurdles in the company's path. 

Will these pipelines ever get built? The Power Panel looks into its 2018 crystal ball to find out.

4. Ontario and Quebec head to the polls

Top 5 stories to watch: Ontario and Quebec elections 8:06

Two political elections are on Power & Politics' radar for 2018. Ontarians will head to the polls on June 7, while in Quebec, the election is Oct. 1. 

Both Premiers Kathleen Wynne and Philippe Couillard will try to hold onto power. In Ontario, polls indicate Wynne is on track to lose, possibly ending 14 years of Liberal rule. 

Meanwhile, Quebec's race is largely shaping up to be a two-party showdown, with the right-leaning Coalition Avenir Québec surging in the polls. 

What are the top issues that will decide the outcome of these two races? And what will be the impact of the two most populous provinces' elections on the rest of the country?

3. Trump's White House

Top 5 stories to watch: Trump's White House 8:01

As U.S. President Donald Trump heads into his second year in office, he will face mid-term elections in November, increasing tensions with North Korea, and potentially more information coming out of Robert Mueller's Russia probe

2. NAFTA — nixed or renewed?

Top 5 stories to watch: NAFTA's fate 8:28

The fate of NAFTA remains up in the air as 2018 begins, after being at the centre of tumultuous talks between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico throughout 2017.

The initial rush to renegotiate the agreement was in part prompted by the political calendar, as some worried that if a deal wasn't completed by the time national election campaigns start in Mexico and the U.S. next year, it wouldn't happen before 2019. Five rounds in, there's no clear end to negotiations. 

The U.S. negotiating team's bombshell demands has Mexico exploring the world of post-NAFTA possibilities, while Canada is "prepared for the worst", Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in November.

Then, there's always the lingering threat from Trump to "tear up" what he called the "worst trade deal in history" while campaigning for president. 

Will NAFTA survive 2018? The Power Panel digs into the possible outcomes. 

1. Legal pot in Canada

Top 5 stories to watch: Legalized pot 8:35

The federal government has promised to make marijuana legal in Canada by the summer of 2018. It's a timeframe that has caused headaches for provinces, municipalities, Indigenous communities, and police forces across the country, grappling with bylaws, regulations and enforcement issues.

Can the deadline still be met? And how will it change the way Canadians view marijuana? The push for legalized pot is Power & Politics' number one political issue to watch in 2018.


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