The year the tail wags the dog

FTLComm - Winnipeg - Saturday, December 30, 2006

Predictions in past years




new century





As much of the conceit of our society suggests that we are the masters of our fate, that is much more a matter of wishful thinking, than it is of the actual unfolding of events. What we surmise is that destiny is somehow under control and that moderation is bound to triumph. Remarkably absent from our collective awareness is that the future is far more distant than it would seem and the truth of what is today actually is now already in the realm of history. Because the manifestation of our day to day events is the culmination of a complex combination of contributing conditions that interact with the apparent random surprises of natural phenomena, what constitutes the news of today was created in whole, or for the most part, out of situations that have already occurred.

If that paragraph above is not confusing, you simply were not paying attention. Reality is in and of itself a confusing thing. The mathematical uncertainty is far more an illusion than it is concrete, since truly random occurrence are so rare to be virtually an impossibility. Quantum physicists deal with probabilities and for that matter improbabilities but since we lack effective control and acquisition of the

minute data that contributes to what is significant we are duped into filling our minds with trivial acceptance of fate, the work of a spiritual guiding hand, or just plain accident.

Most of the important things that will occur in 2007 have been determined by the events of the preceding years and now we must sort out the chaff to see what the dog days of this coming year will reveal.



Saskatchewan's economy is far better than anyone would have predicted. Though we all were aware of the big kick provided by energy and resource development that is not the whole story. The real issue is high employment figures. Saskatchewan people have jobs and they are paying taxes, a lot of taxes and those taxes are not being squandered as the provincial government and local governments have learned their lesson from the Devine and Romanow years. This spring's budget is an election budget and we can expect further cuts in taxes, not only will the sales tax drop another cent to 5% but income taxes will see the minimum tax levels rise.



medicare and education

Medicare and education are the two main expenses in the provincial budget and in 2007 the issue of reorganising education spending will be remarkable with increased spending in capital projects. One of the direct results of the drastic reduction in rural populations is the need to produce facilities for the now much more centralised education structure. The supposed savings of centralisation are a sad but will concealed myth. Spending in health care is no longer on reduced waiting times and wages as the prime element of expense is now the exponentially escalating cost of prescriptive drugs.




Every member of the provincial government and of the opposition are confused with the issue of equalisation payments. For every dollar of oil and gas revenue received Ottawa removes $1.25 in money from the flow of money Ottawa to the province. Contrary to the promises made by Harper during his election the Federal government is now firmly helping itself to Saskatchewan's natural resources. In the June provincial election Premier Calvert will win another term largely because of the primary opposition to the Saskatchewan government is Ottawa.



aboriginal affairs

Nothing has changed we just now know how serious the problem has become with study after study showing the unacceptable differential between Saskatchewan's aboriginal people and the rest of the population. Education, public health and housing top the list of needs while the chronic unemployment and ravages of crime establish the proportions of the malaise. The only glimmer of hope is the very tiny improvements in the numbers of aboriginal people moving into professional roles in the province but with the continued high drop out rate all progress is doomed.




Last year we predicted the development of bio-fuel projects and in 2007 two large plants are being constructed at Yorkton and in Tisdale and a dozen other smaller communities projects are taking shape with the primary obstacle being the ability to raise investment capital. No one accepts the weirdly distant promises of the Harper government which is so far out of step with what is already reality and is compounded by the federal government's pro-petroleum stance.


  1. Increased capital spending in education and increased spending on new curriculum initiatives.
  2. More money will be spend on the provinces highway and grid road system making 2007 a boom year for highway and road construction.
  3. No real change in the handling of expenditures and revenue from Saskatchewan's Crown corporations. Though this area is in dire need of reform it just is not going to be in the cards for an election year.
  4. PST goes to 5%, while the so-call "sin taxes" on tobacco and alcohol actually rise. Income tax remains the same but the low end deductions raise the threshold of income tax upward more than $5,000.
  5. Hard to explain this one but corporate provincial taxes will get a 5% break.
  6. Rather than continue placing a freeze on University tuition the province will announce a post secondary grant programme that will apply universally to all provincial students.


In 2007 the labour shortage of the past two years has reached a point that is forcing the province to adopt a pro-active immigration programme. Already Indonesia has been involved but in 2007 similar government to government programmes will be established with both European and Asian countries with large numbers of skilled but unemployed workers.


Recent poles suggest that Harper's chances of winning even a minority government are exceedingly slim. It is extremely safe to predict that the election will occur before the end of winter and Prime Minister Dion will have a comfortable majority. Ontario will be the main battle ground where the NDP will concede seats to the Liberals and conservatives will lose more than half of their seats. Surprising results in the prairies will see little change in the three prairie provinces but Conservative loses in BC will be similar to those in Ontario. The "nation" status of Quebec will not deliver seats to the Conservatives and the Bloc will do just fine.



new cabinet

Stephan Dion's promise to increase the number of women in the federal government will pay off and his new cabinet will have the most women as cabinet ministers in any government thus far. Our man Ralph Goodale will be the government's new minister of external affairs and Belinda Stomach will make an outstanding minister of finance. For the first time Canada's minister of agriculture will be a woman.




Stephen Harper will be able to handle the serious allegations about election tampering and election money laundering. His troops will not turn on him as his system of discipline and central authority will hold up with the election defeat as he will move to a more suitable role as leader of the opposition.




Passports, fences and snubs that made up the relationship between Canada and the United States will fade in 2007 as the mood in the lower 48 grows more and more introspective. Their country's decline and the reason for that decline; economically, morally and in prestige will all be placed at the foot of their lame duck president and the new Liberal government and the Democratic house of representatives will have much more in common than issues that will divide.


I have a jar of pickles in my fridge labeled"product of India" and the corn I had for supper last night was "product of Thailand". As Canada has mirrored the dependence upon consumer goods coming from China and other areas where wages are pennies on the dollar compared with Canadian wages, we are facing the same conundrum that is now past tense in the United States. Our manufacturing sector is being eliminated and the nations economy is being increasingly reliant upon bulk commodities. We have made a good progress as we develop the services sector but because we have failed to realise the need for collage graduates we are in a shortage basis even in this sector. This issue is not going to produce a crisis in 2007 but if it is not addressed in the next five years certain economic forces will come into play and we will all get to know about depression once again.



Most pundits will place the cause for the Harper government's defeat at the poles in the ill conceived war in Afghanistan. This truly hopeless conflict is not militarily possible for anything that might be called a victory to take place. Harper's spending on the military did little for our ailing forces as the money went to to the losses in fighting an un winnable war. However, the advancing nature of global warming has made it impossible for Canada to ignore the defence of the north and Dion's first budget will see huge spending on equipment and bases for the north.
Liberal fiscal polices

Dion will move into office without the strings that other governments have had in the past and because of his hard line with Quebec the government's list of priorities will be seriously altered.


  1. The 2007 budget will carry with it the now characteristic liberal surplus. The Chretien/Martin years were years of surplus budgets and this trend is certain to continue as Canada has fixed its goal upon not ever letting the deficit budgeting of the past re-occur.
  2. Real money will be put into the beginnings of Canada's national day-care programme and Indian and Northern affairs will be given substantial increases. Specific programming to combat aboriginal health and welfare problems will be funded in a significant fashion.
  3. Though a sizable portion of the Canadian public is aware of the fact that we are over taxed the Mulroney years have taught all Canadians to accept high taxes in favour of a balanced and/or surplus budget.


The country is changing and changing much faster than expected. The country as a whole is in need of an influx of immigration and what is now a trickle will accellorate Though this will be felt in all of Canada's major cities it is in Quebec where the new Canadians will alter the way Canadians have seen themselves. With Quebec's declining birth rate and the rise in immigration the "Quebec problem" is about to disappear.

The world economy
Asia and its energy hungry economies now dominate the world stage. The price of crude oil is not expected to decline in the long run as China and India need more and more oil each and every day. Meanwhile Africa is in a bottomless sinking pit, one that is consuming it in every conceivable way. America, South and Central America, Europe and Japan now sit on the sidelines watching as the Chinese giant is in position to call the shots.


International affairs


The lost Iraq war has dashed the spirits of the American Republican Party as the country tries to find a way out of the struggle that almost nine months ago ceased to be a war with America but became a civil conflict. During this time in the Vietnam conflict the Americans talked of the light at the end of the tunnel, but in this case, there is no such optimism, it is universally recognised that getting out of there fast is the only course of action.



war on

If there could be a war on terror, it is clear that terror has already won. Each day the violence in Iraq increases as does the death toll of civilians. Meanwhile, the Talaban have more resources and manpower than they did prior to the invasion of Afghanistan. Because of the strife between the Shiite and Sunni in Iraq the stability of Lebanon is now in question with the Saudi's grumbling about Iran and Syria. At the centre of everything is the continued unrest in Israel.

In 2007 the civil war in Iraq will force talks in November to plot the partition of the country. The Kurd area is already autonomous and the Sunni and Shiite territorial divisions will be a bloody battle but Iraq could become three countries provided Iran does not become actively involved.

The present trend in Israel will continue with moderation replacing the stridency of the past few years.

The government of Egypt and of Jordan will both have brushes with attempts to topple their governments.




In this part of the world, things are looking up. With the United States preoccupied with is Middle East woes the various agencies of its government do not have the time ore intention to stir up the kind of trouble which has plagued the entire region in the past.

Cuba is the only country facing difficult times in 2007. The health of Fidel Castro is not the real issue, time has passed, five full decades have come and gone since the beginning of the revolution and the affects of the American embargo and the emotional bond between Cubans in country and those in Florida continue to produce an ever present irritation. Poverty and the clear economic depression in Cuba can not be contained indefinitely. However, you have to admit that fifty years is a very long time.

The test now is for Cuba to find its way in to the mainstream of this era without violence. The solution may be oil wealth, cuba has oil and this resource is being developed, watch for gradual, perhaps painless change in Cuba in 2007



Though the world is puzzled by the unsettling developments in North Korea these tremors on the world stage are of little consequence. The hard nosed reality is determined in Beijing. Economically, politically, militarily, China is the world's most formidable entity and we can no long count on it to be patient and temperate with those things that affect the lives and future of the state. If we Canadians and other countries of the world pose to threat to China nor do we act in any manner that might be considered an insult China will be nice but the big guy is truly in charge.


The Shiite alliance that spans from the Mediterranean to Tehran is now considered a major threat to the rest of the Islamic world. There appears to be no reason for Hisbola not to continue its bullying in Lebanon and by spring the fighting in the streets of Beirut will be a test for the United Nation's Security Council to sort out what to do about the force in the southern part of the country with a full blown civil war in progress. Despite renewed attacks on Northern Israel calm heads in Jerusalem with prevent yet another incursion into the land of cedars.

Syria will have sanctions imposed upon it by late summer and Iranian resources and some ground forces will be involved directly in Iraq. Sadly most of the world will not care.


Sira Lanka

The government of Sira Lanka has already crossed the line ending its cease fire agreement with the Tamils and it is unlikely that there is anything that will be done to prevent genocide in that island country. The Tamils will continue to outrage the world with their slaughter of civilians but they will themselves suffer the most in this conflict which should be over by late October 2007.

With NHL having converted itself to a summer sport the second season leading to the Stanley Cup will drag endlessly on and it no longer is important enough to even bother predicting a winner.

Here in Saskatchewan we can always hope that the Riders will make it all the way and in 2007 I can safely predict they will make the play-offs and though they can make it to the Grey Cup winning is not that important, we Rider fans are well conditioned to handle a defeat.

Nothing new in the way of weather in 2007 as we will see this warm winter pass leaving behind lots of snow and yet the Southwest of the province is destine for a very dry spring and summer. For farmers the prospect of a great crop ruined with one bug infestation followed by another with make it hard to break even, but as I said nothing new.

The stock market looks healthy for the first two quarters of 2007 and should break even in the last two. The US economy is under a cloud but that cloud is unlikely to come to anything until 2008.

There is more than enough capital available for investment and in 2007 the paper mill in PA and the huge fibre board plant in Hudson Bay will be sold and both places will be short of workers.

To sum things up 2007 looks like it is going to be a good year. Productivity, full employment and a favourable economic and political climate will raise the hopes of Canadians as their dollar continues is stately but resolute rise in comparison with the US dollar. It is reasonable to expect about 10¢ between now and December 2007.

We will as a family congregate in Kelliher to celebrate the coming of the new year and we wish all of you a most happy New Year.


Timothy W. Shire

Picture credits: All images used in this story are the work of Andrew Shire with the exception of the top of the page picture by FTLComm

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