This is a momentous time.
Some kind of new order – be it a correction, or a massive do-over – feels to be in the making, on many fronts: social, economic, geopolitical.
The reaction to the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd feels quite different than after previous tragedies. A collective, visceral realization has happened. For too long have we overlooked, denied, downplayed the reality of being Black or Indigenous. If we are ever to live up to ideals of egalitarianism, we’d best humble down. A pile of internal and external attitude-changing remains to be done.
On a global scale, the economic, social, and medical implications of the COVID pandemic are just beginning to take shape. The size of the mountain emerging out of the shadows is staggering.
At home, our Alberta public health authorities have done a fine job, minimizing the virus outbreak through group action.
But now we face the cost of the pandemic. Jobs are gone, many not to be recovered. Businesses are gone, life savings have been lost. Job opportunities will be a fraction of the past.
No mere mortal understands the financial wizardry of governments seeming to have endless credit. But, somehow, somewhere, the hundreds of billions borrowed to fight COVID have to be paid back.
The reality is simple. Debt servicing will skyrocket up to between 10 and 20 per cent of government spending, pushing education and health as the prime spenders of Canadian tax dollars.
Spending will be up; tax revenue will be down.
Higher taxation – European style for those still working – will be a reality. All of Trudeau’s and Kenney’s horses, all their financial tricks, cannot put this Humpty Dumpty back together again.
In Alberta, we face the long-term slowdown of our natural resource income. Oil and gas prices remain in a six-year funk. Climate activists oppose fossil fuels, blind to their ever-improving environmental competitiveness.
Internationally, China has morphed from a benign trading partner to an arrogant world power, stomping on Hong Kong, threatening Taiwan, denying its citizens fundamental freedom thanks to its Communist Party totalitarian dictatorship. Who knows what’s in store?
Where is leadership in all this? Certainly not from our prime minister. Justin Trudeau seems devoid of substance. A leader supposedly of the whole country, yet seemingly indifferent to the fate of Canada’s oil and gas industry during this pandemic. A leader who does not understand economics, and, worse still, does not care that he does not understand. A “leader” who seems more concerned wooing Chinese-influenced despots and dictators in a quest to secure a seat on the United Nations’ Security Council.
In Alberta, we at least have an intelligent, well-educated premier with a clear vision – like it or hate it – of how to revive the province’s stalled economy. Kenney’s UCP government, however, is often tone-deaf, and has too often moved without consultation.
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This is my farewell column for The Edmonton Sun.
No more weekly Hicks on Biz or Weekly Dish contributions.
I have decided to “re-retire” after 10 years as a freelance columnist that followed a 30-year full-time reporting/commentary career at The Sun.
It has been a grand time. I am so grateful to have had such a satisfying job with one newspaper in one city since 1981.
But as I soon enter my 70s, it is time to tend different flowers in the garden, to enter more fully into personal rather than professional interests. And for different kinds of writing: Like books.
If the spirit moves, Hicksbiz thoughts and reportage may show up on my blog at hicksbiz.com.
If the spirit moves.
As for all those challenges listed above … it is time for you youngsters to take over!