Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Looking Into My Crystal Ball for 2009

(originally posted at www.greenparty.ca)

You know, I’ve always kind of wanted to be a journalist...all those wonderful travel opportunities to exciting locales around the world. The free buffet lunches. Mostly, though, because journalists always get to gaze into their crystal balls this time of year and prognosticate. I always envied those journalists for being allowed to do so, and to share their visions with an unsuspecting, yet rapturous public.

Well, this is my first year of blogging, and what the heck, is there any reason why I can’t do the same? And share it with you, oh unsuspecting blog-readers? Nope. No reason at all. So, here is my first attempt at predicting the future (well, first written attempt anyway...I’m sure my friends and family are bored silly with my annual musings, especially over this past Christmas).

Here’s what I’m expecting in 2009:

1. More War.

OK, that was probably an easy one to call. But let me explain a bit more. I think that many will soon discover that Barack Obama isn’t the President of Peace many out there thought he would be. He’s been talking about, for quite some time now, the need to send more troops to Afghanistan, and widening that conflict to include areas of Pakistan where the Pakistani government has effectively lost control. The increase of US troops in Afghanistan will lead to more violence in Pakistan. Coupled with a weak government, a growing threat to Kashmir by India, and an increasingly out of control security apparatus, Pakistan could implode.
Oh, and all of those troops coming home to America from Iraq? Don’t look for the total troop withdrawal Obama had been promising. There will remain a strong U.S. presence in Iraq at the end of 2009.

Also watch out for an Israeli air assault on Iran, taking out nuclear reactors.

2. Another General Election in Canada

But not until the fall of 2009. Ignatieff will kill talks of a coalition after Harper introduces a budget with significant economic stimuli for many sectors. The NDP will howl, but at the end of the day, the Liberals will support the budget, likely by absenting enough of themselves from the vote that the budget gets passed. This will give Ignatieff the time he needs to brand himself to Canadians, likely as a consultative strong-man who knows what the economy really needs.

A fall election will have the lowest voter turn-out in Canadian history, with the Liberals gaining seats at the expense of the Bloc and the NDP, but ultimately an extremely minorly reduced Conservative minority government led by Stephen Harper will be the result. The Green Party will not elect a single MP.

3. The Green Party will not elect a single MP.

Oh, I predicted that one already, right? Well, even if there is no General Election, there may be a by-election or two. I know I’m hedging my bets here. But either way, I don’t see us electing an MP at this time. Why? It’s the economy, stupid. And frankly, our Party is not taken seriously as a potential saviour of the economy. Voters (those who actually cast their ballots anyway) will not be willing to take a risk on a party known for a putting a single issue above all others. It’s not our time (which is incredibly unfortunate).

I’m particularly concerned about this in the context of a General Election. Our Leader will not be invited to the televised debate, and there will be only a little public outcry as a result. We will again run a full slate of candidates, including some excellent ones with higher profiles who we will recruit over the next several months. But the economy will kill us. Few will want to hear our message in the face of the economic disaster sweeping the world. Even if we’re the only Party to offer viable solutions.

This situation will lead to great strife within our Party, which should be a growing concern, but which likely will not start to have a huge impact until after the next election.

4. Establishment of a North American Cap and Trade System

To be seen to be doing something, Barack Obama and Stephen Harper will begin discussions on a North American Cap and Trade program, modelled on that being used by Pacific Northwest states, albeit in a watered-down form. It will not come into effect until 2012, and there will be all sorts of exemptions, particularly for the struggling oil and gas industry and for the auto sector. The mining and forestry sectors will take the biggest hits, because their lobbyists aren’t as effective.

Ultimately, greenhouses gases will continue to rise; the rich will get richer, and the poor will get poorer. Taxes will continue to increase, except at the Federal level of government, which, ironically, will be the level spending the most money.

OK, none of these are exactly earth-shattering predictions. But they’re what I’ve got today. Oh, wait. You want a happy prediction? Something not so doom-and-gloom?

The best I can do: The Vancouver Canucks win the Stanley Cup. There you go.

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