Some hopes for the new year

December 21, 2016   ·   0 Comments

SADLY, THE OLD YEAR seems to be ending much the same way it did mid-year, with senseless violence on the part of too many people who likely never read Dickens’  Christmas Carol or saw the various screened renditions of the plot preaching this time of year as one for giving, particularly to those in real need.

We really wonder what the Turkish police officer in Ankara or whoever drove the truck into a crowd of Christmas shoppers in Berlin really had in mind, although it seems the cop saw killing Russia’s ambassador would somehow atone for Russia’s bombing in Aleppo and the driver was likely mimicking the one who killed the holidayers last summer in the French Riviera.

Whatever the case, it seems likely that the violence directed against the West will continue so long as organizations like al-Queda and ISIS survive.

But with surprises like the votes that favoured ‘Brexit’ in the United Kingdom and Donald Trump in the United States in mid, this isn’t the time for anyone to make confident predictions for 2017, and we’ll settle for expressing a few hopes.

On the international scene, we’d like to see some rethinking of the pros and cons of Britain’s membership in the European Union, particularly when it becomes clear to the pro-Brexit voters that the exit will mean losing access to the European Market. We’ll forever wonder why on earth the question posed to voters wasn’t along the lines of “Do you favour Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union if it means loss of access to the European Market?”

We obviously don’t know what was in the minds of those British voters who wanted out of the Union, but it seems a lot felt (wrongly) that  membership meant a loss of control over migration.

As for the United States, our fond hope is that soon-to-be President Trump will be a good learner, particularly in the areas of free trade and international relations.

In particular, we’d hope that the new President will take time between his tweetings to spend some time tuning in to Fareed Zakaria’s Global Public Square on CNN for guidance on how to deal with such matters.

And although we’d welcome a warming of relations between the U.S. and Vladimir Putin’s Russia, we’d hate to see Mr. Trump to follow through with his election-campaign promises to tear up the Iran nuclear deal and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Whatever else might be said about the  agreement with Iran, signed by  the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and China) plus Germany and the European Union, it has stopped Iran’s march toward nuclear armament.

On the Canadian scene, our hope is that the messy area of electoral reform will allow Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to keep his promise that the 2015 election, with all winners being those ‘first to the post’ without any major change being pushed through Parliament by his Liberal majority.

As imperfect as our traditional process is, with governments being elected on the basis of winning less than 40 per cent of the popular vote, it’s surely better than one in which the winner of a presidential election gets fewer votes than the ‘loser’.

Our preference would be a purely temporary experiment, with the 2019 federal election being followed 30 or so days later by run-up elections between the top two finishers in any riding where no candidate got half the votes. The simple result would be that every MP would know that he or she was favoured by the majority of those voting.

Our final hope is that 2017 will see Metrolinx look at providing at least some GO train service out of Orangeville, Alliston and Peterborough to supplement existing bus services.

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