If you haven't noticed, 2013 has been an absolutely tremendous year to be a Liberal.
Two years after our absolute nadir in our Party's history (so far), and we've seen the hopeful beginnings of an upswing. Not only are the polls looking good, which is the most obvious thing we can point to, but our fundraising is definitively up, even to the point of challenging the Conservatives who have had an advantage for the past decade. There is genuine interest in our new Leader, not just because he is a "dauphin," as some online commentators dismissively say, but because he is out there with Canadians, getting a feel for what is wrong with the country's current direction and being a legitimately open and accountable leader.
Compare Justin's style to Harper, and there is such an obvious contrast between the two - but even compare Justin to Thomas Mulcair, who is great in Question Period, no question about that, but lacks the common touch of Jack Layton. Harper is controlling, Mulcair is angry about it in the House - same old thing we've seen before, even Ignatieff had his moments. Canadians want something different, and it seems that so far, Justin Trudeau is that kind of different, and its paying dividends.
So there is a lot to be hopeful for in regards to our federal politics. Not everything is perfect, but I've seen a lot more smiling faces among Liberals than since I joined the party in 2008. Personally, one of the great moments of 2013 for the Liberals was the fact that the Supporters category actually worked - we signed up over a million, and while the fact that only a fraction of them voted in the leadership race is disappointing, it was still the largest voting pool of any federal leadership race in history, and a great start for what I believe will be a boon to our Party. Now only if I can get people to see that...
Provincial Liberals, from coast to coast to coast, have also seen good times. The win in Nova Scotia was huge for us, and a critical loss for the NDP. Premier McNeil and his cabinet have their jobs cut out for them, but they seem to be a capable group (despite some hiccups) and will get through the mess left for them.
While I know many don't consider Christy Clark and the BC Liberals to be "true" Liberals, the fact is that probably around half or more federal Liberals in BC support that party and government, so bravo. Their win also showed how important messaging and organisation is, especially when you're considered the underdog - their campaign strategies are something we should look into incorporating if we're serious about winning.
Here in Ontario, we have a less clear future, but reasons to hope. Dalton McGuinty left us a legacy as Premier that, while in many ways beneficial, has clearly bogged down Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals. The gas plants have torn our credibility to shreds (though we know every party leader would have done the same), people are angry over rising costs for hydro, and let's face it - we've been in power for 10 years, that's often long enough for many, including those in power.
But Kathleen Wynne is definitely trying to shake things up. Common Ground was a great idea, and I definitely look forward to the types of policies it brings into our next election platform. And as Hudak putters around and Horwath continues to look less and less like the sort of "radical" change people seek, I think we're on a good path. We may even win government again in the spring (hint hint).
It doesn't stop there either. Manitoba, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and Quebec Liberals all have new leaders, and are looking to rebuild. We've won a string of by-elections this year in several provinces, and if the polls are right, Liberals lead in 6 of 10 provinces. Maybe even the Saskatchewan Liberals might come back into the light.
Yes, its been a good year for us. Rob Ford and Harper's follies still abound, Mulcair and the NDP still attack the Senate, the péquistes are still being xenophobes, and there was a lot of goddamn snow - but its been a good year.
Here's to the next one, friends.