From pipelines to politicians – the future revealed
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 02, 2013 06:00 am
Predicting the future is a perilous business, but that’s no excuse for not trying. Here, then, is a bit of serious (and not-so-serious) crystal ball-gazing for 2013.
• Europe will find little relief from its immense fiscal and economic problems. Silvio Berlusconi will stand for re-election as prime minister of Italy. He will lose but capture a substantial share of the popular vote from electors who would welcome a little bunga bunga amid the austerity.
• The American economy will continue its uneven recovery. Crisis talks over the fiscal cliff will give way to crisis talks over the debt ceiling which will give way to crisis talks over … etc., etc.
• Like junkies with a supply of cheap drugs, Canadians will continue to feast on low interest rates, running up frightening levels of personal debt. Cautionary warnings will be ignored.
• Justin Trudeau will become the new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Tom “Dutch disease” Mulcair will emerge as the most despised federal politician in Alberta.
• Albertans will cheer as Barack Obama approves the Keystone XL pipeline. Albertans will gnash their teeth as the Northern Gateway pipeline is denied.
• Even if the Gateway wins regulatory approval, the Harper Tories will stuff it under the mattress. They’re already backing away from it. (Hint: A federal election is expected in 2015.)
• Albertans will feel a frisson of joy when Premier Christie Clark is defeated in B.C.’s next provincial election in May. The joy will be immediately tempered by the election of Adrian Dix, another Gateway foe.
• A new professional cycling race, the Tour of Alberta, will take place in September, starting in Edmonton. The weeklong event will cheer those who believe: “Four wheels good, two wheels better.” (Apologies to Orwell).
• Political debate in Alberta will be nasty, brutish and short-tempered. Key issues in the legislature will be the provincial debt and cuts to government services.
• Alberta voters will cling to the simultaneously opposing beliefs that they can have quality services, no debt and lower or even zero taxes. Be glad you’re not a politician.
• Negotiations on new contracts with Alberta teachers and doctors will drag on for months. Settling with the doctors will prove more difficult. More than money is at stake here. Control over the health system is also an issue.
• The city of Edmonton will fail to reach a deal with Daryl Katz on a new arena for the Oilers. The city will then decide to build the arena alone, and why not? It’s already picking up most of the tab. Easier to build the whole thing and lease it to the Oilers.
• Travel agents in St. Albert will do a roaring business over the next few months as residents race for warmer climes. Note: New passport fees take effect on July 1.
• Municipal elections will be held in Alberta on Oct. 21. In St. Albert, Nolan Crouse will stand for re-election and win. The new council will proceed to raise municipal taxes by three per cent. Plus ça change …
• The big issue in local politics this year will be dogs. To leash or not to leash, that is the question. (Apologies to Shakespeare).
• A new Target store will open in St. Albert to great fanfare. The question is whether it will succeed in keeping shoppers in the city or whether they’ll continue to roar down the trail to Edmonton.
• Construction will begin on the North West upgrader in Sturgeon County, adding fuel to an already hot regional economy. Local employers will continue to struggle with a shortage of qualified labour.
We’ll check this commentary at the end of 2013 for hits and misses. Happy New Year.