Looking back at the Severely Normal posts of 2017, a few blindingly obvious highlights stand out!
- Alberta is slowly emerging from the difficult recession. The economy shrank by 6% in two years. There are some short-term reversals, but overall, the trends toward an improved economy are evident. We should remember too that we have been riding a wave for a long time. The economy grew by 50% in the 15 years before the recession.
- Alberta’s growth curve will be slower going forward. Canada’s overall economy will grow slowly and we can expect some of the US market to be less receptive to our products, but a positive growth pattern will return.
- Pipeline access is improving. Despite protests and delays, Line 3 to Superior, Michigan and Keystone XL to Steele City are approved. The federal government has approved TransMountain over the objections of British Columbia and various objections of a small number of Indian bands and environmental lobbyists.
- Production in the oilsands has not really declined. Some companies have divested but that has provided other companies with opportunities to pick up some bargains.
- Canada 150 increased tourism by 6% and a ‘not bad’ crop year improved farm cash receipts. Success in these sectors along with a thousand points of light that saw growth in many small businesses helped stabilize the Alberta economy.
- 2017 was the year that the Canadian Energy Strategy died. The federal government found endless ways to stall and ultimately kill the Energy East pipeline to curry favour with Quebec. The idea of import replacement of foreign oil for Eastern Canada and collaboration among regions on energy, died with it.
- Alberta’s debt grew by another $10 billion this year. The NDP government kept its foot on the accelerator despite royalty revenues falling through the floor. Its philosophy of the role of government and expenditures aimed at the less fortunate trumped fiscal responsibility. There has been a steady trickle of new expenditures – a $100 million here – a couple of hundred million there – and pretty soon, you are talking about real money. This has defeated their strategy to ‘bend the curve’ to gradually reduce spending to match revenue.
- Fentanyl and other opioids will have killed 400 Albertans by year-end
- Continuing high unemployment rates in Alberta, and in Calgary, in particular. Unemployment continues to be an intractable problem and as jobs slowly return to the energy sector, wages are lower. But on a brighter note, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre is out of work.
10. The silly prize goes to Toronto School Board for it ‘uber-politically correct’ decision to do away with the Chief title in its organization structure. Maybe because it was a pejorative term to Indians? Or because it was a cultural appropriation?