Power & Politics: Top 5 players to watch in 2017

Trudeau and Trump

U.S. president-elect Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau might be the obvious choices, but Power Politics’ top 5 list of players to watch in 2017 has some surprising picks too. (Associated Press/Canadian Press)

Who will dominate headlines, inspire op-eds, and divide — or unite — Canadians in 2017? 

CBC News Network’s Power Politics has combed through this year’s archives to bring you some of the political highlights of 2016, and to look ahead to next year. Today, we turn our attention to the top political players to watch in 2017.

The Power Panel — the Globe and Mail’s Kelly Cryderman, Paul Wells, national affairs columnist for the Toronto Star, Le Devoir’s Marie Vastel and the CBC’s Aaron Wherry — helps Rosemary Barton count down the people to watch in the coming year.

5. Jason Kenney

Top 5 players to watch: Jason Kenney5:52

The former Conservative cabinet minister went west in 2016 — but does the West want him? It has yet to be seen if Kenney can win the Alberta PC leadership and “unite the right” in 2017, but there’s no doubt he’s on the political radar as the party tries to rebuild.

The battle for Alberta’s conservative voters is one of the most high-profile political contests to watch. With Kenney vowing to unite the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party and form a new, merged party, all eyes are on him. 

4. New NDP leader

Top 5 players to watch: New NDP leader7:29

It was a stunning ouster no one was expecting. The NDP’s rejection of Tom Mulcair at a leadership review vote last spring has left a void in the party that has yet to be filled.

And so far, no one has even stepped forward as an official candidate to replace Mulcair, who has headed the party since 2012 and served as leader of the Official Opposition in the previous government.

Nominations for a leadership convention will open on July 2, 2017, and the new chief will be selected in the fall. Who will be the next leader of the NDP? And can the new leader revive the New Democrats after a disappointing third-place finish in the 2015 election?

3. New Conservative leader

Top 5 players to watch: New Conservative leader7:48

The Conservatives have the opposite problem the NDP faces — too many people clamouring for the top job. With a crowded field of 14 hopefuls to replace interim leader Rona Ambrose, who will stand out?

​For now, a new poll suggests no candidates have been able to lift themselves out of the pack in the eyes of Canadians and Conservative supporters. With no clear front-runner at this stage of the campaign, and the leadership convention fast approaching on May 27, will the Conservatives be able to rally behind one person? And will that person be able to mount an effective opposition against Justin Trudeau’s Liberals?

2. Justin Trudeau

Top 5 players to watch: Justin Trudeau8:51

As Justin Trudeau gets set to enter his second full year in office, pressure is building on the prime minister to deliver on campaign promises, from climate and pipelines to health care and relations with Indigenous Canadians. 

Then there are the moments of controversy in 2016 that could continue to dog him into the new year, whether a foreign flub over Fidel Castro’s legacy or a cash-for-access controversy. And let’s not forget the incoming president of the United States, who could shake up how Canada interacts with our neighbours to the south on matters of trade, climate, and foreign policy.

1. Donald Trump

Top 5 players to watch: Donald Trump11:27

Donald Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States on Jan. 20, and is the top political player — and only non-Canadian — to make our list.

What will be the biggest impact of a Trump presidency on Canada over the course of 2017? That remains to be seen — but Power Politics will be watching. 

Be sure to check in all week as Power  Politics counts down the Top 5 newsmakers and political blunders of 2016, plus issues and players to watch in the year ahead.

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