As we count down the remaining days in this decade, it is remarkable to look back at the massive change and some notable events during the past 10 years.
The most important Canadian political story of the past 10 years is the rise of the Ford family to political prominence in Toronto, Ontario, and across Canada.
No family has made as many headlines and shocked the political establishment as the Ford family.
Rob Ford was elected mayor of Toronto in 2010, Doug Ford was elected premier of Ontario in 2018, and Michael Ford was re-elected as a Toronto city councillor in 2018.
Doug is now playing a national role as Captain Canada and is considered a potential replacement as Conservative leader.
While cancer took Rob’s life in 2016 as he was mounting a political comeback, it is impossible to predict what Rob would be doing today politically if he was still alive.
Few have been as underestimated as the Ford family as they took the power of Canada’s biggest city and Canada’s biggest province. No family has had as much political success.
The past decade politically was also remarkable for another family with the return of a Trudeau (2.0).
Justin Trudeau has dominated the global stage as well as Ottawa for the last half of the decade. Like his father, he is controversial but also very successful.
Trudeau being re-elected in 2019 was proof that he is perhaps the best campaigner in a generation. Like a cat with nine lives, Trudeau’s best performances are yet to come.
Finally, I cannot skip the past decade in politics without mention of the rise of Putin, China, and Trump. Rough seas are ahead globally as the world must deal with these wildcards.
It raises the question of Canada’s place in the world. As both the United Kingdom and the United States recoil globally, does Canada become more powerful? The world needs new global leaders.
The past decade has advanced LGBTQIA+ rights and other issues of equality. Almost no one in Canada thinks of rolling these issues back anymore.
People like TV host Ellen or former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne are judged on their merits and not on their sexual orientation. We still have a way to go – but there is no turning back.
Environmental issues which, 10 years ago, were marginal at best are now central to politics and a global problem. If one question drives the next decade, it will be this one.
Technology enabled by faster and more accessible internet and smart devices is driving change around the globe more rapidly and widespread than any decade before.
The iPhone and other smartphones have solved many problems for us and changed our lives forever. The rapid change has also brought about many issues we don’t know how to answer.
Distracted driving now tops drunk driving as a safety epidemic in Canada. Fines are not changing people’s behaviours, and it seems only self-driving cars will solve the problem.
Social media and smartphones have changed the way teenagers grow up and we now have a new generation of mental health issues we do not understand, comprehend or have the health care resources to address.
The past decade saw millions of Canadians who are house-rich but live poor month-to-month and struggle to get by. At the same time, the massive increase in housing costs has shut out a generation of young people from entering the housing market.
Western economies are driving up record deficits in a time of positive global growth. How will we deal with the next global recession when there does not seem to be a political appetite on the left or right to balance budgets anymore?
Today, Canadians live from cancers and other diseases that previously would have killed them in 2000 or 2010.
I had an angiogram this past year, and the technology of medicine is truly remarkable. It is only getting better.
In the past 10 years, we passed a threshold where we now have more older people than younger people in Canada. This has widespread ramifications for the availability of health care and how we pay for it. We need to have a political debate in Canada about the future of health care.
Vaping is out of control in Canada for our teenagers, and the government has been slow to regulate it.
We have also raised the issue of mental health. We now have awareness and diagnosis of these diseases, but we have not provided the resources or care for people. I know too many people who have family or friends impacted by suicide. We talk about mental health, but we need to put our money where our mouth is.
As Dickens once wrote, it was the best of times; it was the worst of times.
I am a glass half full type of person. I believe, as Canadians, we are all collectively better off today than we were in 2010. I also believe the best is yet to come.
Thank you for taking the time to read this column throughout the year. From my family to yours all the best for a happy, healthy, and wonderful 2020.
Jim Warren is Liberal political strategist who has worked for Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.