At this time last year, it looked as if Santa would bring something for everyone in Alberta, regardless of their political orientation.
This year, though, maybe not so much. Lumps of carbon-dioxide-emitting coal, maybe.
Leastways, you can spin recent economic outlooks for the province any way you like, but nobody’s going to be partying in the streets about what they say.
Alberta’s economy will grow, the economic forecasters at the Royal Bank of Canada predicted, for example. But don’t expect it to grow all that much. “The six years it will have taken to recover from the recession’s losses are a reminder that the path forward will be full of potential obstacles,” observed the RBC outlook’s authors, who are generally considered to be reliable.
With a little help from their echo chamber at Postmedia, Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party Government will certainly try to spin predictions like that as a sign confidence is returning because Conservatives are back in the provincial economic drivers’ seat.
But having sold the promise of a Conservative restoration as a way to give the Alberta economy an immediate kick-start, and then failed to see anything like that happen, the UCP may lack a certain credibility in that department without hard evidence of a dramatic turnaround. Well, they can always blame Justin Trudeau and his federal Liberals — and of course they’ll try.
By the sound of the bankers’ predictions, the best we’re going to see would be more accurately described as a modest return to growth. “This is no longer Alberta’s boom-bust economy of old when it could be reliably counted upon to snap back into shape after a setback,” the Royal Bankers cautioned.
“Ugh, ugh, ugh,” tweeted University of Alberta economist Andrew Leach after comparing RBC’s latest 2020 forecast with the one it published last year. “Cripes. It’s bad all the way down. Compared to their 2018 forecast for 2020, RBC’s current outlook has much lower real and nominal GDP growth, higher unemployment, less job creation, massive drop in retail sales, 10% fewer housing starts, etc. Damn.”
This is true even if the government’s harsh austerity policies don’t themselves push the provincial economy back into recession.
Meanwhile, on the federal scene, with the Opposition still in chaos after the October election defeat the Conservative Party of Canada had talked itself into believing it would win, we’ve just come through weekend during which Pierre Poilievre was being touted by media as the likely front-runner to replace Conservative Andrew Scheer.
Seriously? Skippy Poilievre? They’re kidding, right?
This is what happens when a political party comes to be dominated by ideologues. It would be funny were it not true that the gods of politics can sometimes make circumstances favour politicians who are unlikely, unlikeable and likely to do harm. The obvious example, of course, is Donald J. Trump. Mr. Poilievre could turn out to be another. Heaven forfend!
So it would be foolish to laugh out loud at this prospect.
Is there more? Of course, but tomorrow is Christmas Eve and the season of peace and goodwill is upon us, so barring unexpected blockbuster stories urgently in need of commentary, AlbertaPolitics.ca will fall silent for a few days, at least until the 27th, when this blog will celebrate its 12th anniversary, surely an occasion deserving of observance.