Some fearless forecasts for 2015

January 7, 2015   ·   0 Comments

NOW THAT WE’RE IN A NEW YEAR, the time has come to make a few predictions, some of which will be fairly safe to make while others will be in the ‘iffy’ category.

On the world scene, the safest prediction is surely that we won’t see the end of Ebola in Africa, the ISIS menace in the Middle East or the civil war in Syria. On the other hand, no one can say for sure whether air strikes will have much impact on war-torn Syria and Iraq, or whether Afghanistan will avoid descending into the sort of chaos being experienced in Iraq following the withdrawal of U.S. troops there.

In Canada, we can predict a few things with something approaching certainty. One is that the Pan-Am Games next summer will go over budgets but be seen by its promoters as nevertheless a worthwhile venture.

Another is that we shall have a federal election next October or even sooner if the governing Conservatives like the results of opinion polls.

Related to that is our prediction that the election will produce no change of any substance, with the Tories retaining their parliamentary majority despite securing the votes of only one in four eligible voters. Impossible?

Look at it this way: they’ll get the votes of at most 40 per cent of those casting ballots, but those folks will be only about 60 per cent of those eligible to vote.

The Tories’ electoral triumph will be the result of two main factors – money and a divided opposition. Always far wealthier than either the Liberals or the New Democrats, the Conservatives will also benefit from legislation they brought in limiting direct financial support for the parties.

They will also benefit from attack ads portraying Justin Trudeau as not smart enough to follow his father into the Prime Minister’s Office.

As for the New Democrats and leader Thomas Mulcair, they will retain most of the seats they currently have in Quebec but not do as well as the Liberals in the rest of the country. As was the case in 2011, the two parties with similar platforms will share roughly 60 per cent of the votes but wind up with a minority of Commons seats because of their unwillingness to refrain from running candidates in ridings where they have no realistic hope of winning.

In Ontario, several things are inevitable. One is that we shall never know why the generating capacity lost with the destruction of Mississauga’s coal-fired Lakeview Gener-ating Station wasn’t replaced by a gas-fired plant on the Lakeview property, a site that wouldn’t have raised the sort of opposition that was certain to be created by the sites picked in Oakville and Mississauga.

Related to this is the certainty that electricity prices in Ontario will continue to soar, in large part because of a combination of privatization and overly generous payments for solar and wind power. Long gone are the days when Ontario Hydro had Canada’s lowest power rates, thanks in part to the “power at cost” philosophy of Adam Beck.

Less certain, but still fairly likely, is that the year will see Ontario have three female party leaders in Premier Kathleen Wynne, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Christine Elliott, who we see as most likely to emerge as the next leader of the provincial Progressive Conservatives.

Locally, we are going to witness some real struggles by municipal politicians who want to prevent further increases in property taxes that are already far higher than those found in Toronto.

As we see it, the reality is that Dufferin County will need to have more tax revenue, if only to continue maintaining roads like County 109, 124 and Airport Road that are being used mainly by out-of-county traffic.

And in Orangeville, Mayor Jeremy Williams will get his wish of a budget no bigger than last year’s only if Council opts to reduce community services.

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