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2011 predictions

As we round out another decade, thoughts turn to the future. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Hugh Mackenzie, Shauna Mackinnon, Bruce Campbell, Trish Hennessy, Jim Stanford and Armine Yalnizyan weigh in on the issues facing Canada in the years ahead. They flag the economy, social unrest, drift, democracy, dirty oil and corporate Canada as things to watch in 2011 and beyond.


Hugh Mackenzie, CCPA Research Associate

The Economy, Stupid: The biggest problem facing Canada in 2011 is, well, the economy, stupid. Government action or inaction both in Canada and the United States will prolong the economic slowdown in each country. In the United States, the combined effect of the rise of the Tea Party right, the polarization of national politics and the fiscal conservatism dominating state governments will result in a premature withdrawal of economic stimulus there. In Canada, the lack of real political pressure on the Conservatives to continue economic stimulus in the face of a very slow recovery will mean that government policy will actually work against economic recovery. In addition, the delayed recovery in the United States will remind us of the extent to which our economy -- especially that of central Canada -- is tied to the U.S. economy. A second round of stimulus in Canada is required to give our economy time to wait for a recovery in the United States to establish the basis for sustained private-sector driven growth.


Shauna MacKinnon, Director, CCPA Manitoba

Social Unrest: If Canada’s governments continue to ignore the problem of marginalized Canadians, I predict it will lead to greater social unrest -- an increase in poverty-related crime, coming to an inner city near you. This ticking social time bomb is especially relevant in Prairie cities, where the Aboriginal population is growing at a much faster rate than the non-Aboriginal population.  As a result of colonialism and our failure to provide relevant social supports to generations of disenfranchised Aboriginal peoples, the prospects for many Aboriginal youth today are bleak.  Far too many drop out of school and join inner city gangs because it represents hope and belonging in a world of limited options. We have all the research we need to show the current government approach to the problem – criminalizing Aboriginals, or offering them short-term training to feed the low-wage market -- isn’t working. We also have strong evidence that shows Aboriginal peoples are looking for a way out, they’re looking for hope to hang on to. Our Aboriginal peoples represent our deepest historical roots but, also, as one of the fastest growing populations in Canada, they are our future. And we’re failing them. It’s time to ensure they have the tools they need to succeed, or we face a social time bomb that was – and is—wholly preventable.


Bruce Campbell, Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Drift: What concerns me going into 2011 is the continued drift of the Canadian state: from a social state -- which protects and empowers its citizens -- to a low-tax, coercive military-security state -- which benefits corporate interests and the wealthy.  The Conservative government continues to spend massively on the military, the police, and the prison infrastructure. It cancelled public child care and the Kelowna accord for Aboriginal peoples. It opposes expanding the public pension system, opting for privatized pension “solutions” favoured by Bay Street. It has done nothing to improve the public health care system in the key areas such as drugs or home care, and has hinted that it will cut health transfers to the provinces when the current agreement runs out.  During the financial meltdown it put in place a $200 billion safety net for the banks while doing next to nothing for displaced workers. This shift -- likely to accelerate as the campaign to wipe out the deficit becomes a pretext for more social cuts -- breeds resentment by Canadians towards a government whose priorities are increasingly disconnected from people’s needs. 


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