The onset of a new year spurs a lot of writers and journalists to indulge in prognostications about what the future will look like over the coming twelve months. Having perhaps over-indulged in more than my fair share of good food and drink over the holidays and being a little slow off the starting line of inspired writing this early in January, I too have decided to gaze into the proverbial crystal ball and try my hand in predicting the shape and substance of what 2022 will bring us.
Of course, one must start with the large cloud called COVID that is hanging over all our heads at the moment, with little sign of relief. Based on my reasonably researched and mostly fact-based view, I predict that this current fourth wave dubbed Omicron will peter out by spring or early summer and the pandemic will then retreat into the background by the end of this year. I speak mostly of Canada, where we have been significantly more effective in combating this virus through vaccinations, masking, and distancing than most other countries. The virus itself will still be a strong presence in other parts of the world, particularly third world countries for at least another year or two. This means that we will continue to have international travel restrictions and serious supply chain issues for some years to come. New advances in vaccinations as well as treatments for the effects of COVID should appreciably ameliorate the severity and mortality of the virus’ infections. I am hopeful that by fall of this year, day to day life in Canada will return to something close to what it was like before the virus appeared in 2019. I am presuming that no new malignant variant emerges to start the roller coaster ride all over again, though that remains a real possibility that would negate everything I have said so far.
On the Ukraine front, I predict that the U.S., NATO, and the European Union will continue to reject Putin’s bluff about invading Ukraine. There will be meetings, negotiations, threats and much posturing, but in the end, I don’t believe Putin will send his armed forces into Ukraine. I think he knows full well that things have changed significantly since 2014 when he was able to roll into Crimea and the Donbas with minimal opposition. Ukraine and its armed forces are much better armed and prepared to resist, and I am sure that he realizes that a full-scale invasion would be prohibitively expensive in terms of lives lost and the damage that would be inflicted upon the Russian economy by the severe sanctions that would be imposed on Russia if it chooses to do so. The current violent protests in Kazakhstan and continuing unrest in Russia’s Siberian hinterlands will also inhibit Putin’s abilities to concentrate Russia’s military might on Ukraine’s borders. The best he can hope for is to gain European concessions on allowing the Nord Stream pipeline to proceed in return for keeping the peace, and that is what I believe his intention was all along when he created this artificial crisis.
To the south of us, America will continue to simmer in its nasty soup of political polarization as the Trump psychosis continues to infect a significant proportion of that country’s population for at least another few months. However, I believe that by summertime, Trump, his family and his key enablers will begin to be hit by a wave of indictments and arrests that should see many of them behind bars over the coming years. This will severely undercut his ability to wield power and influence. With Trump in jail, hopefully the Republican Party, which has turned a blind eye so far to his brand of authoritarianism, thinly veiled racism and corruption will start distancing itself from him and return back towards a more principled and moral brand of politics, though I think that will take some time and perhaps a newer generation of GOP politicians.
Here in Canada, the political picture will not change too significantly in the foreseeable future. On the federal level, Justin Trudeau, leveraging the Liberal government’s reasonably competent handling of the COVID crisis while the O’Toole Conservatives continue to wallow in internal dissent and disorganization, will continue to hold on to power. Jason Kenny’s abysmal handling of the COVID challenge as well as other issues in Alberta, has effectively undercut and ended any future political ambitions he may have. In Ontario, Doug Ford has done a little better at managing the COVID crisis but has also alienated many sectors of the working population and front-line workers, making him politically vulnerable. The only saving grace for him, is that he has no strong or credible political opposition in Ontario, so he may survive another election, though a majority government might be problematic.
Lastly, on a more personal level, I predict that I will be spending more time with my grandchildren, will devote more time towards increasing my culinary skills and will continue to inflict my thoughts, views and opinions on you through this column. Have a good year everyone!