2008 the year of the salamander

FTLComm - Tisdale - Monday, December 31, 2007

Predictions in past years




new century





One of the few living relatives of the ancient dinosaurs the tiny and tenacious salamander is one of those creatures on this planet that has learned and developed a system of survival. Despite climatic calamities and all disaster there are still salamanders crawling around dragging their little tales and curiously tasting the wind with their little forked tong.

The year 2008 reminds me of this creature it is slow moving, determined and will be successful in maintaining a mind of its own.

The big items in 2008 that will garner our attention both north and south of the border will be the US presidential election. The United States is facing difficult decisions as a country and some complex issues as a culture and society. As they deal with racism, bigotry, political polarization and the cruel devastation of their economy, they are truly a very primitive society, still struggling with torture, capital punishment and rudimentary public health care for all of their citizens. As you watch their election unfold, I am certain that most Canadians will shake their heads, as they realize those issues, settled decades ago in Canada, could return to haunt us, if the Americans make no further progress and/or our own political system suffers a regression.

Last year I erroneously predicted a federal election in Canada which could have yielded a minority Liberal government. Alas it is unlikely Canada will make it through 2008 without going to the polls likely in the spring but now it could go either way. The most likely result from the perspective of December 2007 is a spring 2008 election would yield yet another Conservative minority government. But, let's talk about that little later in this story.


Provincial Issues in 2008

The successful electoral win by the Saskatchewan Party pretty much clears the slate for what we can expect in the coming year in our economically dynamic province.

Saskatchewan as this old year closes is Canada's fastest growing economy though a good deal of that stems from the position oil plays in the nation's economy it is not the only furnace producing economic heat. The dramatic shift in agricultural prices has had more of an effect on the provincial economy than many of us realize and the indicators are the similar for the coming year. With mining, agriculture and the oil industry ablaze only forestry is having problems so we have almost ideal conditions for the new provincial government in Regina.

The focus of the Saskatchewan Party is quite different from that of the former government which had all of its support in the cities. The Saskatchewan Party owes little to the urban areas and is certain to do its best to reward the loyal supporters of the party who are the minority of the provinces population who live in rural areas. Spending on roads, rural tax relief and local issues like education and rural medical care will have top priority with this government and even though the spring budget will be balanced the government is certain to spend every cent and perhaps just a tad more.

Though the Saskatchewan Party has condemned support of industry such as the Prince Albert pulp mill the historical leaning of the party and its members will be to slips a lot of bucks into the hands of private projects. In the long run this will have little or no effect on the way things go as this government is living in a far different economic climate than the last conservative government in power in this province.


The Federal Scene

As mentioned things are looking like a spring federal election will be hard to avoid. Though the Liberal Party is in tough shape with the apparent lack luster performance of their leader the government wants and needs a majority to carry out the kind of political changes its feels are appropriate to make Canada more Albertan in nature. The Bloc and NDP if they work together can determine if an election takes place or not and there are a lot of factors that might come to play as time goes on.

Though the carrying on of "Lyin' Brian" was in the distant past the inquiry into the accusations by Karlheinz Schribber are extremely disturbing. The public from coast to coast is insulted by a Prime Minister receiving cash in envelops and they will make somebody pay for the insult. Stephen Harper and his closed mouth crowd will do just fine.

Two issues will dominate Canadian awareness in 2008 more than any others. The undeclared war in Afghanistan which we somehow have found ourselves fighting on behalf of the United States and drug warlords is enormously unpopular and will continue to be even more unpopular as we realize that no amount of sacrifice or expenditure will affect any change in what is going on in that God forsaken land far away. The other issue is climate change and global warming.

The Federal Government has been championing the US position which is an embarrassment to the human race and Canadians are unlikely to swallow any more of the spin from Harper on his oil field supporting intentions.

The spring election will not be pretty and the voter turn out even lower than expected but the results will see the Liberal Party back in with a minority position. The Liberals will actually pick up seats from the NDP in Ontario while in Quebec the predicted shifts by the experts will not take place and status quo will continue.


The world economy

The near collapse of the US dollar which actually occurred in 2007 will continue to undermine the stability of the world's economic situation throughout 2008. Oil prices are the main issue. There is no where to go but up, especially with the US dollar going down.

The US deficit and trade imbalance are factors but the tom foolery in the US economy with real estate and lending are the real factors driving the whole mess to the edge. We will be luck to avoid depression let alone a recession.



International Affairs

During the last three months of 2007 the political landscape of Pakistan has been unraveling to the point that little positive things can be expected in that country or that whole region. Pakistan, a dictatorship is a client state of the United States. It is also the source of the weapons and manpower that are the Taliban in the Afghan war. At any given time the government of Pakistan is in control of less than half of the country with war lords running the rest. Now with the government controlled areas filled with desperation over the assasination of Ms. Bhutto the place is in chaos. Don't surprised if American troops are not sent into Pakistan to prop up the Pakistani military as things come apart in late February.

US forces and NATO forces may have to enter the western portion of Pakistan anyway just to cool down the fighting in Afghanistan.


In order to fight a war you need resources, both manpower and money for arms and equipment. The American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are remarkably well funded. The US is spending billions which means some other source of revenue is seriously involved funding the other side to an equal tune. It is amazing that this situation continues unless someone wants it to continue and in November President Bush will be replaced. Perhaps then things will improve.

In 2008 we will increasingly be aware of the growing anti-american attitudes and actions taking place in South America. Venezuela and Cuba are not alone in resisting the Yankee and with the economic downturn of the US in 2008 there is certain to be a major power shift in the Americas.


There is always more than Politics and the economy

The Riders really did well this past year and as the cup defenders they have a good chance of doing it all again.

Though there is so much talk about global warming and climate change the day to day weather of 2008 will be dramatically similar to the day to day weather of the past five years, that is the way it is. Even big changes are to gradual for us to notice in our lives. This means a damp but early spring in 2008, a solid mix of hot and mild weather for the summer and look for an early fall with snow in late October.

While the US economy is doing a dive the stock market will chug right along this spring and early summer. The positive vibes from the US election will keep things going right up until November and most corrections will take place in late November and early December. Gold and oil as well as other commodities will continue their steep rise as the value of the dollar declines.



Though the Canadian dollar is at par it is likely to rise a bit above that well below the $1.30 rate that it probably deserves to be but the weight of the US downturn will affect Ontario and Quebec so severely that a dollar at close to par for most of the year is likely and low interest rates will remain in affect, even though that is a mistake.

What is 2008 going to be like for you and me here in Saskatchewan. Things look okay, we will see plenty of immigrants coming to join the work force as labour shortages continue in our accelerated economy. The price of most things will be about the same with the exception of gasoline which will keep on edging upward as we get use to higher and higher prices and you will be luck if gasoline a year from today is only $2.00 a litre.

Happy New Year everyone, we will all just keep crawling along.


Timothy W. Shire


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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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