As 2018 comes to a close, Canada heads into an election year.\nAlready, the political stars are aligning to make it one of the most contentious in Canadian history.\nJustin Trudeau, himself, has predicted a particularly "nasty" election cycle.\nALSO READ: This Is How Much Money Justin Trudeau Probably Made In 2018\nTL;DR In this opinion piece, I outline 8 reasons why the 2019 Canadian election cycle could be particularly terrible.\nHere are eight reasons why:\nPossible foreign interference\nThe Canadian Centre for Cybersecurity is already warning citizens about the threat of foreign interference in public discussion ahead of the 2019 election.\nIn the United States, largely Russian-controlled bots spread false information and inflamatory memes online to move public opinion before the 2016 presidential election. Those insidious efforts have created a dangerous level of political division unprecedented in recent American history.\nView this post on Instagram March 28 declared national day of mourning The President signed Executive Order declaring March 28 the day of mourning following the Kemerovo fire tragedy. The Executive Order reads: “The fire that took place on March 25, 2018 in Kemerovo, Kemerovo Region, has claimed many lives and left many people injured. Mourning those killed and conveying condolences to their families and friends, I resolve: 1. To declare March 28, 2018 a national day of mourning in the Russian Federation. 2. To lower the Russian state flags all across the country on the day of mourning. 3. To advise cultural institutions and television and radio broadcasting companies to cancel entertainment programmes on the day of mourning. 4. The Russian Government and the local governments of the Russian regions to take necessary measures to provide assistance to the families of those killed and injured. 5. This Executive Order shall enter into force upon its signing.” 28 марта объявлено в России днём траура Президент подписал Указ «Об объявлении траура в связи с гибелью людей в результате пожара в Кемеровской области». Текст Указа: В результате пожара, произошедшего 25 марта 2018 г. в городе Кемерово Кемеровской области, имеются многочисленные жертвы и пострадавшие. Выражая скорбь по погибшим и соболезнуя их родным и близким, постановляю: 1. Объявить 28 марта 2018 г. днём траура в Российской Федерации. 2. В день траура на всей территории страны приспустить Государственные флаги Российской Федерации. 3. Предложить учреждениям культуры и телерадиокомпаниям отменить развлекательные мероприятия и передачи в день траура. 4. Правительству Российской Федерации совместно с органами государственной власти субъектов Российской Федерации принять необходимые меры по оказанию помощи семьям погибших и пострадавшим. 5. Настоящий Указ вступает в силу со дня его подписания. A post shared by Владимир Путин (@president_vladimir_putin) on Mar 27, 2018 at 1:06pm PDT\nThe same agents that interfered in the American election are also poised to influence voters in Canada. Such interference is a threat to national security and integrity.\nThese agents will exploit, foster, and amplify any issues that provoke fierce debate in Canada.\nThis item is first on this list because it will only exacerbate the issues that follow.\nPersonal attacks and strong reactions to Justin Trudeau\nJustin Trudeau is a controversial figure. A recent poll, for example, shows his approval rating at a record low level.\nBut despite this unpopularity, his party is poised to retain, and even grow their majority government in the 2019 election.\nThese projections speak less to the popularity of Trudeau himself than to the perceived lack of a viable alternative. The federal Conservatives and NDP are still scrambling to land on a rallying message.\nBut attacks on Trudeau are sure to be a winning strategy. Opposition parties may take advantage of the prime minister's unpopularity to rouse Canadians who disapprove of his performance. This could result in some pretty personal rhetorical assaults.\nView this post on Instagram We’re working together in partnership to tackle issues and help support the ideas of Indigenous youth. My thanks to the 2018 Nishnawbe Aski Nation Youth Council for their visit and very good discussion today. 🇨🇦 Nous travaillons en partenariat pour régler les problèmes auxquels sont confrontés les jeunes Autochtones et appuyer leurs idées. Merci au Conseil des jeunes de 2018 de la Nation Nishnawbe-Aski pour sa visite aujourd’hui et la bonne discussion que nous avons eue sur la Colline. A post shared by Justin Trudeau (@justinpjtrudeau) on Nov 20, 2018 at 6:44pm PST\nThe unusual discrepancy between Trudeau's low popularity and the Liberals' encouraging prospects for the 2019 election will only compound Canadians' frustration with their prime minister. In fact, these divergent trends could make Trudeau a more divisive subject than ever in 2019.\nThe Liberal leader has vowed to run a positive campaign, but political discussion could quickly devolve into a scuffle between bullies.\nFierce debate about environmental issues\nConversations about the environment are more critical and contentious than ever. Environmental issues are sure to dominate campaigns and debate before the 2019 election.\nAt the centre of these debates will be the Liberal government's new carbon tax, a levy on polluting materials. While Trudeau promises that most of that revenue will return to Canadians as rebates, the tax provoked fury throughout the country. It also bolstered the popularity of conservative parties on both the federal and provincial levels who rallied against it.\nHad the pleasure of speaking with @PremierScottMoe and @BlaineHiggs ahead of the First Ministers’ meeting to discuss some of the issues facing our provinces. The job-killing carbon tax is top of mind. pic.twitter.com/5PJ6T8nh3o\n— Doug Ford (@fordnation) December 6, 2018\nThere are also ongoing environmental debates between provinces that have already stirred controversy. Recall that last week, Quebec premier François Legault denounced further pipeline construction.\nIn response, thousands of people in oil-rich Alberta took to social media to voice their support for a boycott of all products from Quebec. Some have even called for a revival of the Alberta separatist movement.\nSuch extreme sentiments certainly represent a minority, but they do demonstrate how loaded environmental issues are in Canada.\nOn one hand, Canadians should be thankful that environmental policy actually captivates the national attention (unlike, for example, in the United States). On the other, because this debate implicates everything from the economy to the Canadian federation, it is sure to be fierce. The stakes are high.\nPossible protests\nThe carbon tax and surrounding debate could fuel protest movements not unlike the "gilets jaunes" movement that has taken over the streets of Paris and forced French president Emmanuel Macron to make concessions on his own planned tax. Already, small protests across Canada are mimicking the French demonstrators, but with a troubling far-right twist.\nIt is impossible to predict whether similar protests in Canada could reach the scope of those in France. But it is clear, at least, that a populist trend is emerging.\nVia Photo 134448496 © Jakobchristian - Dreamstime.com\nMoreover, as discussions about the environment and economic mobility become more heated, public figures in Canada will undoubtedly exploit protest and grassroots movements to fortify their political standing. There is a scenario in which Canadian politics dissolve into the kind of ferocious camps that have immobilized the American government.\nGrowing conflicts with Saudi Arabia and China\nAs Canada heads into 2019, tensions with other world powers continue to brew.\nOver the summer of 2018, Canada's criticism of human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia prompted a harsh response from the restrictive absolute monarchy, which included a cessation of diplomatic relations and an order for Saudi students in Canada to return home.\nCanada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists.\n— Foreign Policy CAN (@CanadaFP) August 3, 2018\nThe assassintation of Washington Post journalist and critic of the Saudi government, Jamal Khashoggi, by Saudi agents only enflamed tensions.\nNow, as Saudi Arabia continues its brutal war in Yemen, there are mounting calls for Western powers to withdraw military support from the oil-rich regime. The government of Canada is reportedly scrambling to do just that.\nInternational attention to and the sensationalization of these disputes (Khashoggi, among other journalists, was named Time "Person of the Year") has only stirred arguments in Canada about the government's response.\nView this post on Instagram The stout man with the gray goatee and the gentle demeanor dared to disagree with his country’s government. He told the world the #truth about its brutality toward those who would speak out. And he was murdered for it. Every detail of Jamal Khashoggi’s killing made it a sensation: the time stamp on the surveillance video that captured the #Saudi journalist entering his country’s Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2; the taxiway images of the private jets bearing his assassins; the bone saw; the reports of his final words, “I can’t breathe,” recorded on audio as the life was choked from him. But the crime would not have remained atop the world #news for two months if not for the epic themes that #Khashoggi himself was ever alert to, and spent his life placing before the public. His death laid bare the true nature of a smiling prince, the utter absence of morality in the Saudi-U.S. alliance and—in the cascade of news feeds and alerts, posts and shares and links—the centrality of the question Khashoggi was killed over: Whom do you trust to tell the story? Jamal Khashoggi is one of the Guardians, TIME's Person of the Year 2018. #TIMEPOY Read the full story at TIME.com/POY2018. Photograph by @moisessaman—@magnumphotos for TIME (Photograph of Khashoggi: Alamy) A post shared by TIME (@time) on Dec 11, 2018 at 4:55am PST\nCanada's responsibility to uphold human rights, and financial and military ties to Saudi Arabia will likely become central campaign issues before the 2019 election. Because the matter involves both brutal murder and the future of Canadian foreign policy, discussions will likely be passionate and even nauseating.\nMeanwhile, across the world, another conflict is developping. The arrest of Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Chinese telecomm company Huawei, by Canadian authorities led Chinese officials to detain three Canadian nationals. The Chinese government has also threatened further retaliation if Canada extradites Wanzhou to the United States.\nHere's a chilling video from @HuXijin_GT, editor of the nationalist Global Times, warning that China's revenge against Canada "will be far worse than detaining a Canadian" (or, presumably, two.) https://t.co/VpwXwG5QZ3 pic.twitter.com/zzdxC5uL9K\n— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) December 13, 2018\nThis puts the Canadian government in a position where it must choose between its duty to its allies and the law and, potentially, the well-being of its citizens.\nThere is, unfortunately, no end in sight for this drama, which will likely play out concurrently with 2019 election campaigns.\nCaught between the ire of two world powers, Canada will see debates about its place in the world reach a critical point next year.\nThe uncertrain fate of a controversial new trade deal\nPerhaps the biggest news in Canada in 2018 involved the drama surrounding a new trade deal between Canada, the United States, and Mexico to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)\nFor months, president Trump berated Canadian leaders and disparaged the Canadian economy in order to coerce the government to agree to disadvantagous deal.\nFinally, after intense negotiations, the prime minister and presidents of the U.S. and Mexico met to sign the new pact, titled either the United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA) or CUSMA ("Canada first") depending on whom you ask.\nView this post on Instagram The historic USMCA is a truly groundbreaking achievement. All of our countries will benefit greatly!🇺🇸🇲🇽🇨🇦 A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on Nov 30, 2018 at 8:35pm PST\nCanada agreed to some concessions, however. Most controversially, the dairy supply management will be relaxed slightly to allow some American producers access to the restrictive Canadian market. While that may make some dairy products cheaper in Canada, dairy farmers, particularly in Quebec, will likely see diminished profits.\nThe opposition will likely lambast Trudeau for appearing to abandon the interests of Canadian farmers. But uncertainty about the future of the USMCA could be even more politically damaging.\nDespite the largely symbolic signing cermony (which gave the three government heads the photo opportunity they so desperately craved), the trade deal still must be ratified by legislative bodies in all three countries. That's no guarantee in the United States, where a split Congress is about to take its seat.\nThe Democrat-controlled House will likely block any legislation, including a major trade agreement, that the Trump administration attempts to force through Congress.\nIf the USMCA fails to pass in the United States, NAFTA will remain in place. But months of criticism have made the Clinton-era pact a political liability. Moreover, the Trudeau government invested a great deal of time and political capital into the USMCA draft. Its failure would be an embarrassment.\nJust signed one of the most important, and largest, Trade Deals in U.S. and World History. The United States, Mexico and Canada worked so well together in crafting this great document. The terrible NAFTA will soon be gone. The USMCA will be fantastic for all!\n— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2018\nThe United States is Canada's greatest trading partner. The economies of both countries and even the livlihoods of thousands of Canadians is at stake.\nThis debate is going to get personal.\nTrump\nThis will be the first Canadian federal election since Trump took office in 2017. By now, his style has infected Canadian politics, too.\nThe American president has set a new, unfortunate standard for political discussions. Canadians should expect more bombastic and maybe even vile rhetoric coming out of election campaigns.\nVia Photo 68071220 © Joe Sohm - Dreamstime.com\nDebates about an appropriate Canadian response to Trump will also undoubtedly surface. Earlier this year, for example, Trudeau received criticism for his initial reluctance to comment on the Trump administration's policy of separating migrant families and storing young children in cages.\nThese discussions could fundamentally reshape for the U.S.-Canada relationship either for the better or worse.\nDebate about the security of the French language\nIt is so far unclear just how intense such debates could become, but they do seem to be emerging.\nWhen Ontario premier Doug Ford scrapped plans to found a Francophone university in the province and threatened to cut other Francophone services, a massive blacklash ensued.\n@fordnationdougfordembedded via\nFord was forced to withdraw some of those plans, but even the suggestion was enough to have far-reaching consequences. In Montreal, for example, the media was quick to criticize mayor Valérie Plante for giving a speech entirely in English. Some even cited Ford's threat to Francophone services as a reason to more staunchly promote the minority language.\nFrench language protection is at the core of Canadian federalism. If political leaders do not demonstrate their commitment to that tenet, they could stir separatist sentiments.\nCanada is in for a raucous election year.