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Base image taken at 5:15 PM January 3 of Mount Everest

Onward and upward in 2018
Friday, January 5, 2018
by:Timothy W. Shire
I am sorry to be late, a full five days into the new year before getting around to putting down my thoughts about 2018. My problem this year is that I would like to concentrate on the really big over all picture and though grand sweeping remarks are often the order of such thoughts, we really need to come to terms with how that big picture is really about us. When you contemplate the macro the only real thing that matters is the micro. Despite the polarisation of racism and the bigotry, 2017 treated the micro much better than most of us had expected.

Climate change

There is no reason to expect a change in a trend that is so massive. 2017’s storms and natural disasters including the fires in Western North America, were unprecedented and so shall the same be said of those events in 2018. Already, the with storm bomb that hit the eastern coast of North America is just another example of the climate readjusting to changes in ocean temperatures and consequences of that change. Take 2017 with its fires and floods and copy and paste that into 2018 and you will realise that for the individual, things can get pretty awful pretty fast.

A world of refugees and migrants

The people of what used to known as Burma have decided to persecute and harass their Moslem minority to the point they are forced to flees to camps in Bangladesh. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and in the world as it is now, it is not an exception. Syria, Yemen, Southern Sudan, all have people in significant numbers dying by starvation and as part of armed conflict, but the band of lost people stretches all the way across the continent of Africa. Tragic in so many ways, but without any hope of resolution in this, or the coming years.

Migrants of one type or another, have year after year been making their way from the desperation of most of Africa heading north into Europe, causing disruption and political instability. There are no obstacles to this trend in 2018, it will just keep on going. The trickle of refugees into Canada is almost insignificant when you consider the numbers involved. Canada will add more than 300,000 people to this country in this year, but most of them will not be the starving and the people we see in those camps in Africa and Yemen. Canada is carefully selecting its new members to fill in the need for workers and population, as Canada’s birth rate continues to decline, our newcomers are economically a necessity to the country.

World Conflict

There is no need to itemise the countries and hot spots in the world. In a single word they are the world’s muslim countries. The stark reality is that despite the defeat on the battlefield of
ISIS in Iraq and some of Syria, the polarisation in the muslim world is running at full throttle. IS (Islamic State) sometimes called Daesh is not a thing of the past, but instead a thing of the future, taking on the role of trouble making from the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, popping up all over North Africa and alive and well on the internet. The basic tensions between various sects of Islam and Islam’s fundamental inability to cope with all other religions, is at the core of this violence. It would be great if we could find more specific reasons for the turmoil, but what seems to be the issue is staggering economic conditions brought about by the lack of democratic traditions. Abject poverty in face of unimaginable wealth, is the norm in North Africa and throughout the Middle East. Plain and simple inequality, country after country, makes for instability, oppression and violence, government and other wise.

Peace in the Middle East is impossible now and in the future given the present economic structure that exists.

North Korea has been in the news largely because of its continued efforts to develop ICBMs to act as a deterrent against threats from the United States. American leadership and its stupid nature is making a bad situation worse. However, mass destruction is not something even North Korea is interested and though there will be noise, it will will not turn into shots fired.

The leader of the Shite branch of Islam is in Iran and the signs are that Iran’s population is not as accepting of the present economic situation as would have been the case in the past. Looks pretty much like an internal issue.

World Trade

NAFTA and is on the minds Canada’s business and governmental communities and though there is considerable bluster, Canada and Mexico adjusted to the reality that came with the trade agreement, which had largely been foist upon them by American business interests. The problem, is that a segment of the American public is dissatisfied with what their country set up as a deal and want things more to the advntage of American workers. It is not going to happen. No matter what the Trump administration wants, it can not have it without the will of Congress and that simply is that.

Trans Pacific Partnership is far from dead, it is being reworked and though Canada has some problems with it late in the year it is going to resurface in a mildly changed form, it will of course not involve the United States.

Much of the significant parts of the Canadian deal with the European Union will begin to take effect this summer and without a doubt there are some positive exceptions that will financially favourable to Central Canada.

Now, what can we expect?


The first issue to come up is who will be Saskatchewan’s new premier? I have nothing to go on here but crystal ball gazing and with that, I predict the new leader will be
Ken Cheveldayoff. Many issues have been put on the back burner awaiting this decision, including what to do about pot sales in Saskatchewan when recreational marijuana is legal this summer.

The NDP leadership will be decided in Regina on March 3 when it is expected that
Trent Wotherspoon will be successful.

The big issue for this province will be the budget to be introduced this spring. The odds are that the budget will follow the cost cutting and tight money policy of last year’s budget. Saskatchewan tax payers will be told that they have to live with the reality of not having huge benefits from resource revenue and will have to make do with less.

Federal Government action

The Canadian economy has been the surprise of the past year. I had predicted a 64¢ dollar and we have an 89¢ one. Employment is looking good, the trade deficit is smartening up and manufacturing is keeping pace with a growing economy. The Federal budget is looking much better than expected and the Prime Minister is predicting we will move to a balanced budget sooner than expected.

Though the government has made some progress with indigenous people it has so far to go that it will seem in 2018 that almost no progress has been made. The inquiring into missing and murdered women and girls will get its extension but such a grim story is unlikely to have an uplifting ending. Clearly the nature of systemic racism in police and justice circles have made the situation much worse.

By including civil rights, labour standards and environmental concerns, a formal agreement with China on trade is simply not possible however, trade with China and small trade deals this year will begin to take effect and over all trade with China is looking pretty good.

Kinder-Morgan Trans pacific pipeline will elicit much howling from the BC government and tree huggers in general but it is pretty much a done deal and work on the project should begin this fall.

The economy

Through out 2018 the Canadian economy looks good but there is a threat thatAmerican politics could throw a wrench into the healthy stock market at practically any point. The value of the stock market is now inflated and though there is stimulus in the market from the American Federal Tax deal many analysts are expecting a sizeable correction in the fall of 2018. No one is talking recession but a sell off is a certainty.

Crude oil is now so cheap that Canadian oil is going to market at about $30 yet we are seeing the oil companies wading right along gauging Canadian consumers more than ever seen in history.

The unexpected

The death of Sears this past year had been predicted by most financial analysts but there are some odd consequences to the Canadian market place. Where do we in rural Canada buy our furniture, appliances and indeed even our clothing. Canadians are not flocking to the internet to do their shopping and there is a serious need for businesses with bricks and mortar to step up and fill the need.

Tweet after stupid tweet have defined the United states president as a fool. Nothing new about that it was clear during the election he was pretty much a mental basket case but what about going forward. The first prosecutions of Trump people will dominate the news cycle and punish those Republicans seeking re-election. When it becomes completely clear that the Republicans are about to be whipped seriously in November the tide will turn and impeachment proceedings will begin in earnest in congress. This should begin to take shape by late June and the President most likely will be forced to resign in late September. This could lead to stock market crash that would be temporary because the US economy is not weak yet. Weakness in the economy will not show up until made 2019 with the failure of the tax bill begins to take shape.

The consequences of the absence of local news in communities right across Canada will not become immediately apparent. Things like this settle in and advertisers who created the demise of local papers by publishing their own fliers will not feel the affects. Local politics on the other hand has been dealt a fatal blow that will diminish democracy at the grass roots level. Social media and it’s fake news polarises and clamps down on rational discussion.

The emergence of legal marijuana consumption this summer is unlikely to be little more than a few news items because the general public at large is not participating.

Despite the obstacles placed in our way during this year we will as we have in the past meet them with good humour and a sensible attempt to make the best of things. Forest fires in the spring and summer, a minor drought in part of the prairies this summer and to much CNN can be tolerated.

Have a good 2018, strive onward and upward.