THUNDER BAY – Leader’s Ledger – First off, I would like to extend my best wishes for a happy and safe new year for you, your friends, and your family. With 2012 now well underway and another Christmas holiday season behind us we can look forward to what the year ahead may hold.
If 2012 is to be summed up in a word I think it would be ‘uncertainty.’ Uncertainty is not necessarily bad, but well…uncertain or unknown. No one can predict the future, but we usually have an idea where things are heading. I’m not so sure the same can be said for 2012, but there are some potential developments to watch and important questions that will be answered as the year moves forward.
2012 will be the first full year of Stephen Harper’s majority mandate. Elected largely because he convinced enough voters to trust him to manage the economy during tough economic times it is now time to prove that he is capable of doing just that. Will Canada still be the envy of the economic world in 2012? Does Harper plan to use his new power to backtrack on our basic rights, freedoms, and laws that have been in place for decades such, as a the right marry someone of the same-sex and a women’s right to choose whether or not to have abortion as some have recently suggested he will? What are his long term plans for funding healthcare, protecting the environment, and making the justice system more effective? I suspect we will see these questions answered to some degree or another in 2012.
The world is also becoming a more uncertain place. With economic and political upheaval happening throughout the world in 2011, will the momentous change continue or will things return to a more normal and steady state? Will the Euro survive the looming bankruptcy of Greece and other states? Will Iran voluntarily halt its nuclear weapons program, or will Israel and the United States decide to halt it for them? What will Canada do if it is the latter? Will Syria’s dictatorial government collapse under the will and courage of the people? 2012 will be a pivotal year in the international sphere and I have no doubt that the answers to these questions will shape the next decade.
For Canada’s economy the future is also quite uncertain. The Conservative government bragged throughout the spring 2011 election that Canada ‘weathered’ the economic crisis better than other countries and that only they could be trusted to find a way forward. The first fiscal quarter after Harper was given his majority mandate the Canadian economy shrank and we became the first country in the world to be on the brink of a double-dip recession. By the fall, the United States was surpassing Canada in both economic growth and job creation for the year. Will Canada’s record of above average economic performance continue in 2012, or will Canada fall behind? The Royal Bank recently ‘stress tested’ their assets to see if they could withstand a 25% price correction in the housing market, but will such a correction actually happen or will home prices continue to rise? What will the economic effects be either way?
We won’t know the answers to these questions until later in the year, but you can be certain of at least two things; 2012 will be a year remembered for its uncertainty, and Canada’s New Democrats will be monitoring the events closely and offering positive solutions to any problems that may arise as we move forward.
John Rafferty MP
Thunder Bay Rainy River