Undaunted by the inaccuracy of my forecasts for 2020 – most of which were thrown off by the immense dominance of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on pretty much all elements of our lives – I will nevertheless proceed with making a few predictions for the coming year. So here goes…..
- Canada will have a fall federal election in 2021, which will result in a Conservative minority government. Although rumours abound regarding a spring election, the fact that the pandemic crisis is still going strong and will likely continue for some time to come suggests that spring 2021 would be a very inopportune time to call an election. As well, there were many new Liberal MPs elected in 2015 that will not be eligible for their gold-plated pensions until autumn of this year, and that will also mitigate against an election until later in 2021. By that time, more Canadians will be aware of just how badly the Trudeau government mishandled the pandemic and the delivery of timely vaccinations to Canadians, leading to a decline in Liberal support. The ongoing cheerleading of Trudeau by much of the mainstream media and the backing of the union movement for Liberals will work against the election of a Conservative majority. Trudeau will step down as Liberal leader to seek some international sinecure.
- The Canadian economy will continue to struggle throughout 2021, with unemployment remaining stubbornly high. This is partly because of ongoing pandemic impacts on the economy and also because so many businesses – and especially small businesses – were permanently shut down in 2020 that it will take years before we can recoup the job losses that happened as a result. As well, heavily indebted governments will resist implementing the types of policies that will help the economy get back on its feet – policies such as tax reductions, smaller government and reducing the burden of regulation and red tape. Instead, the federal government and some provinces will continue to favour increasing taxes and other costs on businesses and individuals, which will dampen economic recovery and further damage the financial status of the majority of Canadians. Increasingly indebted governments will lead to a downgrade of Canada’s credit rating.
- In the US, although some Senate races are yet to be determined, the Senate will retain a Republican majority. The combination of a Republican majority in the Senate and a Democratic House of Representatives will lead to policy gridlock in 2021 and stymie many of the Biden administration’s priority changes in areas such as health care, environmental matters, immigration and a number of budget issues. This is good news for the American economy as many of the Trump-era tax cuts and pro-business policies will remain in place and lay the groundwork for a pandemic recovery that will take place much more quickly than in Canada.
- The combination of damage from the pandemic and more harmful policies from Ottawa will lead to a serious thrust toward separation from Canada in Alberta and, to a lesser extent, Saskatchewan. Alberta will investigate establishing provincial autonomy over such things as public pension plans and policing. Premier Jason Kenney, who has so far resisted separatist sentiments and held out against pursuing any initiatives to work toward increasing Alberta’s independence, will come under increasing pressure to lobby the federal government for changes in the system of equalization payments and other policies to permit Alberta fairer treatment from the federal government.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs will make the playoffs this year, but will not advance beyond the first round. As a diehard Leafs fan it pains me to say this, but although the team and its relatively young players will continue to mature, 2021 will not be their year. Instead, the Las Vegas Golden Knights will win the Stanley Cup.
That’s it for 2021. Although we are all glad to see the back of 2020, it doesn’t look like the coming year will be a whole lot better although the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is at least in sight. I’ll review these predictions in a year’s time to see if my track record has improved from last year. Until then, all the best in 2021 and who knows? We may be pleasantly surprised.
Catherine Swift is currently President and CEO of Working Canadians (www.workingcanadians.ca. Prior to that, Catherine Swift had been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business since September 1987, initially as Chief Economist. She became Chair in June 1999 after being named Chief Executive Officer in July 1997 and President in May of 1995. Her various responsibilities included coordinating policy issues at federal, provincial and municipal levels of government, representing CFIB with politicians, government, business, media and other groups.
Ms. Swift has worked with the federal government in Ottawa holding several positions with the Departments of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Industry and Communications. Her areas of specialization included corporate and industrial analysis and international trade. Catherine Swift has a MA in Economics.
She has published numerous articles in journals, magazines and other media on such small business issues as free trade, finance, entrepreneurship and women small business owners. Ms. Swift is a Past President of the Empire Club of Canada, a former Director of the C.D. Howe Institute and past President of the International Small Business Congress. She was cited in 2003 and again in 2012 as one of the top 100 most powerful women in Canada by the Women’s Executive Network.