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Behold 2017
Saturday, December 31, 2016
by:Timothy W. Shire
So much of what happens in our world is not reality, but is in fact, our individual interpretation of reality. When all is said and done, it really comes down to how you look at things and the perception of reality that you impose on the facts with which you are presented. I preface this year’s predictions this way, because we could all be so easily sucked into blaming all things on the leader of a foreign country, or we could simple make the best of what we have to work with day to day.

From the outset, 2017 is by far one of the most confusing years that I can recall, when faced with the task of giving some insight into what may, or may not, happen in the coming year. I made two glaring errors in my
2016 predictions when I said Hillary Clinton would become the American president and my second error was to predict the rise in GST and provincial sales taxes. By far, the most momentous of these errors was the American presidency. Day by day, tweet by tweet we can see that changes of all kinds are about to engulf us in Canada and perhaps, the world as a whole, and at this point, there is no sensible way of outlining what may, or may not, take place.

You see, what takes place is not the reality that shapes destiny, it is the tone, the emotion, the perception of what is, or is about to happen, that shapes reality. Therefore, everything is pretty much up in the air.

Almost every single category that we consider year by year in predictions like these, are influenced by a number of variables. In 2017, that range of variables is focused on the actions, and in some cases, off the cuff comments, by the leader of the government of the United States of America, so as we go through these possibilities, we have to consider the fickle and flippant nature of the person and those who put him in office.

Climate change

Only one other factor challenges the importance of climate change and that is the threat of global thermo-nuclear war which in past years was not a big factor, but now is once more on the table. But, global climate change is advancing and so are modest attempts by the planet’s inhabitants to do a better job of looking after the place. This past year, saw the Paris agreement and here in Canada, an accord by the federal and provincial governments to take action. The new President of the United States believes that global climate change is a hoax and is determined to opt out of the Paris accord. In Canada Saskatchewan is digging its heels, because it sites the attitude of the American president-elect. However, carbon taxes are already kicking in, in parts of Canada as of tomorrow and province by province, territory by territory, Canada is going to do its part to attempt to reduce carbon emissions.

The Arctic has made this reality impossible to ignore and the country and the inhabitants of the north have already adapted.

World Conflict

The disgust the civilised world has for what has happened in Syria, is a direct result of the impotence of
The United Nations. Failure is never as good as our attempts to describe it. In this case, the political process of ending the civil war, negotiated by Turkey and Russia, is certain to create even more chaos as Assad retains power and Turkey moves to destroy the Kurds. Meanwhile, the limp Iraq efforts in Mosul will stumble along throughout the entire year.

Where things get really confused is with the attempt by the new US president to cozy up to Russia, while at the very same time launching a massive arms race. Both Russia and the United States are embarking on a huge upgrade of their nuclear arsenal, this is not good news for the world. At some point, the Americans will realise the Russians are less than friendly and when that happens, it will not be pleasant. However, this will not happen in 2017 but will be late in 2019 before the real cooling takes place.

It looks like things between China and the United States are going to change a lot and this is expected to see some major changes with Canada/China relations, as a new trade deal is now taking shape. The wild card here is not the United States, but North Korea and how it behaves in the second half of the coming year.

World Trade

Not just the United States but some of Europe and other parts of the world as well are cringing as trade deals threaten sovereignty. The United States wants to renegotiate
NAFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership is dead.

Canada is a trading, free trade country and we will be fighting the trend. Not all of the problems with
NAFTA will be bad for Canada, but they will effect every Canadian, as the dollar is in for a nasty slide.

Now, what can we expect?


For us in Saskatchewan the first big issue in the new year is dealing with the hefty deficit of the provincial budget and attempts to cut back by the government all over the place. Though raising the sales tax would be a fair thing to do, it is not expected, because it upsets the rural base of the elected government. Cuts to everything, should be expected.

Federal Government action

The Federal government has clearly stated it is going to do a deficit and the public has accepted it as we look forward to greater spending country wide in infrastructure projects. Some of those already coming into play immediately. No change in the GST is now expected and the budget as a whole, has already been pretty much laid out, so there are few surprises expected.

The prime minister’s office has let their eyes off the ball with regard to indigenous affairs and the public is going to demand that eduction money and other reforms get some attention. The inquiry into missing and murdered women will push forward, but this is a sad and misery ridden story, that will grab the headlines throughout the year.

Trade deals with China and some attempts with South America are part of the agenda and will get our attention, while some real tangible results will begin to show up with the European deal by spring.

Efforts to reduce tension and protests over the
Kinder-Morgan Trans pacific pipeline may pay off, but there will be some hard times ahead with this one. Meanwhile, the Pipeline to New Brunswick though vital to Saskatchewan and Alberta, is not expected to clear the hurdle of Quebec easily and will be a story for 2018.

The sale of the Port of Churchill and the railroad is a big deal and there will be some considering tanker traffic into the port during the summers to come.

The economy

Nothing we do will change the fact that our Canadian dollar will slip to about 65¢ simply because of US interest rates and changes in the bond market which has already taken place.

Inflation in Canada is expected to remain low enough, to even look like deflation, however, the price food and manufactured goods will rise about half of what some economists are predicting. Look to pay about 10% more for food this coming year. There is no indication that any of us will be including beef in our menus this coming year.

Housing continues to be the main discussions of the business talk shows, but should remain fairly stable throughout the year even in Vancouver. Rental issues in Regina and Saskatoon will be difficult, as landlords are really feeling the crunch and unable to adjust to the market enough to keep their flats full.

The world is awash in crude oil with supplies and production continuing well above consumption so the best we can see is about $58 by fall, but prices at the pump will rise across the country by about 15% because of carbon taxes and the weakness of the dollar.

Robots, not trade deals, continue to hit Ontario’s manufacturing sector and increase that province’s deficit so that it continues as one of the main have not provinces, just behind Quebec in the country.

The unexpected

Just about everything is unexpected and in 2017 we need to be prepared for the unexpected. Make sure you are putting money into savings, especially low income and marginal families. The difference between hard times and disaster is very small and minimum wages are simply way to low. Everyone needs to keep those credit cards paid off and remember to pay yourself first.

On January 20 the new American president will swear the oath of office and efforts to impeach him will have begun later that same day. In 2017, we are going to hear an awful lot about high crimes and misdemeaners. Because of the president-elects business dealings, he is guilty of such crimes, even before taking the oath and day by day evidence will mount that will make it hard for him to continue in office. Odds on impeachment 60% on the first try, but there will be a series.

News agencies have been noting today and this week about the large number of celebrities who have died this year. This is not a surprise at all. In the coming year the trend of notables passing will remain high because of two factors. The baby boomers are getting old and are a major part of society, the second factor is that the population of today is so much larger that there are just so many celebrities, big and small, so the numbers will add up.

One of the things we need to know about 2017 is that we as people need to help each other. Support the indigenous people in their struggle, help them with jobs and moral support. Don’t forget the refugees they are all ending their first year and government hand outs are disappearing, be helpful, accepting and know that a good society is one that looks after everyone.

Happy New Year everyone. May you look and find silvery linings in whatever you do.