2007 in Foresight

There seems to be an upsurge in predictions for the new year this year in the media and in the blogosphere, so I thought I would give it a go. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see how I fared, 364 days from now.

  1. There will be no federal election until this fall or spring 2008. The electorate is just too volatile for any of the parties to feel comfortable about bringing down the house. When the next election is held, though, I predict another Stephen Harper minority with all the other parties holding the balance of power.
  2. McGuinty will come close to losing his majority, but will be assured of another four years of government. Indeed, I stand by my prediction here.
  3. There will be further indications that Russia is emerging as a renewed global threat, possibly overshadowing the Middle East. Indeed, look for relations between China and the United States to grow a little warmer as a result.
  4. The McGuinty Liberals will get shovels in the ground on the York University subway extension before we go to the polls, despite the fact that this is not the best investment in public transit the Liberals could make.
  5. Blogs will continue to be born and many will continue to lapse, and their influence in the media will stay roughly the same. Warren Kinsella points to studies which suggest that the rate of growth of the blogosphere is waning, but Robert at MyBlahg points out that with campaign donation laws and the rapid pace of our recent elections weighing heavily on all the parties’ coffers, these parties may become more dependent on various freebies, like blogs. They’re both right, but that’s only because the blogosphere’s influence on the mainstream media has been greatly misunderstood by the mainstream media and in the blinkered worldview of the more egotistical bloggers. There is nothing magical about blogging. A blog is nothing more than an accelerated website with a community attachment. Its influence is no more or no less than that of any other advertising medium. The well designed, well written sites that have something interesting to offer will get the hits and the attention. The poorly designed, poorly written sites won’t, and those with some capital to back them up will have an advantage. That’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it’s always going to be.
  6. The Saskatchewan Party will finally win in Saskatchewan (it would be rather embarrassing if they could only win in Alberta), for no other reason than it’s time for change.
  7. The Canadian political blogosphere will have its first sex scandal. You’re left to your own devices to imagine what form it will take. ;-)
  8. Andrew Coyne will disappear from the blogosphere for another six months.
  9. The best shows on television will continue to be Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who, with House cutting them both close.
  10. At the end of 2007, we’ll all be one year older, but not much will have changed.

Looking Back

2007 will mark the abandonment and demolition of Terminal 2 at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. I know a few people who won’t be sad to see it go, feeling that it was a design nightmare due to the fact it’s really a jumped-up freight terminal. However, read Shawn Micallef’s eulogy for Terminal 2 over at Spacing’s Wire, and listen to why he says we should spare a moment for this building’s passing.

Let This Not Be In Hindsight

And finally, not a prediction, but a fervent hope:

2007 will be a critical year for the Toronto Transit Commission. Currently, it barely has enough money to maintain itself in a state of good repair; it does not have enough money to purchase the additional buses and streetcars needed to keep up with its unexpected ridership growth — now at 3% per year. The TTC needs an infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars in order to expand its fleet to keep up, much less get ahead of this ridership growth, and encourage more people to get out of their automobiles. In addition, there are several unanswered questions, the most critical being, when will the TTC be able to commit to replacing its streetcar fleet with new, low-floor vehicles?

Transit activist Steve Munro is covering a number of the issues that need addressing in the next twelve months and the consequences of our failure to act could be quite dire — including the loss of Toronto’s streetcar network. The McGuinty Liberals are the only governing power with the power and the money to help the TTC, but much of that money has been earmarked on a subway extension to York University that helps only a fraction of the people that need to be helped. More people could be helped if the money set aside for this extension was transferred instead to the TTC’s surface network, buying buses and streetcars and paying for the drivers and the fuel to operate them. The opposition Tories seem similarly blind to the bread-and-butter needs of our public transit networks, favouring instead expensive and overbuilt subway extensions. This has to change.

If anybody in the McGuinty campaign is listening, I beg that the Liberals set aside money to allow the TTC to fund its Ridership Growth Strategy, even if it means delaying construction on the York University subway extension. Such a move would show me that you have more vision than most people give you credit for, and it will assure the future of Toronto’s public transit network, and a fair chunk of its economy, if you have the courage to make this decision.

I live in hope.

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