I've been holding back on this post for a while. Partially to get a better lay of the land, partially to make sure certain factors settle out. Here is my set of predictions for 2011:
(1) There will be an election in April.
I've gone back and forth on this one. I believe an election will happen this year for two very important reasons: April 15th, and June 17th.
April 15th is the date of the separatist Parti Quebecois convention. Pauline Marois, the PQ leader, will undergo a critical leadership review. Gilles Duceppe, although officially supportive, will no doubt watch the result with interest. There is no better time for Duceppe to make the leap to provincial politics. Marois, practically as unpopular as Quebec Liberal leader Jean Charest, could easily be ousted. That would leave the door wide open to a jump for Duceppe - only if an election does not occur. Having an election puts Duceppe and the separatist movement off balance. They will be in the middle of an election as the PQ prepares to tear itself apart.
June 17 is the date of the Liberal Biennial Convention. No doubt a similar leadership review will occur for Liberal leader Micheal Ignatieff. Smacking Iggy Puff with an election, who has had some internal leadership issues, right before a leadership vote puts him off balance. Should Iggy fail to meet his own party's expectations, they may decide they want a leadership change themselves.
Ordinarily I would suggest that the Harper Tories will survive this year. To me there is clear negotiating common ground with the NDP who have asked for all intensive purposes practical demands for their support of the budget. However for the Tories I believe the turmoil an election would create for their opponents will rule the day strategically.
(2) Dalton McGuilty will still be premier.
I say this with some sadness. The Ontario Liberal's have been a disaster. The Province's economy, government, and confidence are in shatters. Yet the number of times a rooky party leader like Tim Hudak have made it on the first kick at the can are rare and few. My bet is that McGuilty will win another term, and if Hudak can survive his real chance is in 2016.
(3) The NDP will be defeated in Manitoba
Hugh McFadyen has a good chance of defeating the NDP government. He's survived one kick at the can, and if the polls hold steady he will be the next premier.
(4) Brad Wall will still be Premier
The Saskatchewan Party has governed well. It has become an economic tiger in Canada as a result of the policies of Brad Wall. They reduced taxes, cut spending and the province seems more confident by the day. Couple this with the fact that he faces a rooky opposition leader makes it improbable that he will loose.
(5) 2011 will be the year of Austerity
We're already seeing it, but more will be to come. Their will be massive confrontations all across Canada with labor unions, and special interest groups as the taps get cut off by a number of provincial governments.
I would look to Ontario in particular for much of it. Dalton McGuinty's government shows signs of understanding just how bad the situation is.