Tomorrow I'll climb behind the microphone for the first time in a month.
Summer vacation is over, the air is crisp and the news agenda will be piping hot between now and Christmas.
Here are some of the issues that I suspect will be part of the discussion:
What next for Ford?
It was a rare and raucous summer sitting of the Ontario legislature.
The Ford government cancelled rebates for electric cars (losing a lawsuit for its trouble), began the process of process of extricating the province from its cap & trade carbon tax. Green energy deals have been shelved by the hundreds. The Hydro One CEO and board are gone. Sex-ed will get a rethink, the basic income guarantee pilot program will end, Toronto's city council is being cut down to size. Ford's government will join Saskatchewan in a court battle against a Trudeau carbon tax. There was beer for a buck and if you're so inclined, you'll eventually buy legal pot at a private store.
Now comes the hard stuff.
Premier Ford promised broad based tax relief. He must deliver on a middle class tax cut, a business tax cut, and no income tax for low income workers. That last item is particularly important, to buffer blow-back from what I expect will be a freeze to the minimum wage. He will also need to show progress on deficit control and offer some plan to return to a balanced budget. The government also vowed a vision for social welfare reform would be revealed in November.
Identity politics and the Quebec election
Despite a Quebec election without a sovereignty debate, identity politics is alive and well on the hustings. Voting day is October 1st and the CAQ (which polls suggest is just weeks away from defeating the incumbent Liberals) is talking up immigration quotas and protecting the French language.
Quebec is alone among the provinces is setting an immgiration quota. It's also the main entry point for the asylum seekers crossing into Canada from the United States. The CAQ would cut the province's annual immigration intake by nearly a quarter and test arrivals for proficiency in French and "Quebec values."
Trudeau needs a win
It's been the annus horribilis for Prime Minister Trudeau. His trip to India was a farce. The pipeline file is in tatters, along with his pan-Canadian climate change/carbon tax agenda. Canadians are increasingly worried about the situation at the border. And "vote rich" Ontario has been painted conservative blue.
Trudeau needs a win. NAFTA is the best bet and a new deal with the Trump administration can't come soon enough. An agreement is in no way assured, given the PM's (and his opponents') ongoing defense of supply managed agriculture. A new trade deal with the Americans before Thanksgiving would salvage this disastrous year and lock up the 2019 election for the Liberal Party.
Trump at mid-term
Forget Stormy, Cohen, Manafort and Mueller - Trump's biggest challenge is the looming U.S. mid-term elections.
The entire House of Representatives and 35 senate seats are in play. The Republican Party, history would suggest, will lose seats. Losing congressional power would derail Trump's domestic agenda and possibly set the stage for impeachment hearings. The mid-terms are November 6th.
In local news...
The municipal election is in late-October. Mayor Watson is on cruise control, poised for landslide win and a third term. The city's long-awaited light rail train is set for launch sometime in November.
One of the most important stories is a looming lockout at Postmedia's local newspapers, the Citizen and the Sun. Postmedia has already warned staff it's prepared for a Halifax-like scenario. Employees at the Halifax Chronicle Herald walked the picked line for 18 months, only to agree to a new contract that delivered pay cuts and layoffs. The Chronicle Herald's quality was severely dimished during the strike and it's never quite recovered. I really hope it's settled - fast.
It's going to be a fun and fascinating final three and a half months of the year and I'm looking forward to discussing it all with you, starting tomorrow!