I feel as if I know why people like Trump. He tells it like we want to hear it. Let’s just Make America Great Again. Simple, right?
When I was little, we would often go for family dinners at my Grand Maman’s house in Quebec City. We loved her company. She knew that. And she was always happy to have us.
This column was first published in the April 2016, Friday AM All Month in Salmon Arm.
You’ve heard the joke about the Trivial Pursuit game for economists, right? 500 answers for every single question. I often think about this joke when a budget is presented.
This column first appeared in the Friday Am All Month Edition, March 2016
I remember 1967. I consider myself a centennial baby (well, toddler, to be more precise). I remember Expo 67; the sights, the sounds, the spirit.
Ok – I get it. You think FI parents think their kids deserve better. But, with sincere respect, here are a few points I think you missed.
This column was first published in the January 2016 All Month edition of the Friday AM.
The single most important economic drivers are confidence and certainty. When confidence is low and uncertainty is high, we don’t have a very good view of the economy. The reverse is equally true.
Sad stories and bad stories drive readers to newspapers, and viewers to television and browsers online. It seems we’re hard wired to consume cautionary tales.
This reminds me of an unfortunate but nevertheless true comment about US local television news I remember from the early eighties: “Watch Buffalo burn down on Channel Four”. Many supper time broadcasts began with reports of yet another building fire. Police and Fire Departments were at a loss to explain the frequency. After studying the sad state of affairs, it was determined that pyromaniacs were triggered by TV coverage of buildings engulfed in flames. The fire-starting behaviour was reduced when the coverage was changed: no flames on TV equalled fewer fires, so the story goes.
In some ways, we’re now watching a full blown economic fire on our shared media; TV, radio, print and web. And it’s feeding the worst in us: will our house be next to burn?
I want to suggest that what we really need to do is embrace confidence and certainty. Yes. The dollar is low and oil is cheap. And that’s not likely to change anytime soon. But, on the other hand, the dollar is low and oil is cheap. See what I did there?
The low dollar means we can sell more into the US, our largest trading partner. It also means their economy is on the upswing and they can spend more buying from us, be it commodities, professional services, or manufactured goods. Cheap oil means transportation will, eventually, get less expensive. It takes time for that price change to work its way through the system, but it will.
The low dollar means US visitors suddenly have Canada on their vacation list again and that’s good for the Shuswap. So if you’re in that business, be sure to target our Pacific neighbours on your Facebook campaigns. That’s easier too. Even ten years ago, marketing campaigns targeted to US customers would have been complicated and expensive. That is no longer the case. Thank you social media.
As for Canadian visitors, we’re likely staying closer to home. Consider upgrading your board shorts and bikinis to snowboards and skis come March break. And join in the best snow our ski hills have seen in years. Don’t discount the value of a great staycation either. We’re not exactly hard done by in terms of landscape and leisure.
Finally, and this is probably the part that inspires me most, cauliflower is really expensive. This excites me for the growing season ahead. We are fortunate to live in such a bountiful agrihood. With so many producers – fruit, vegetable, livestock, dairy, and grain – our producers are basically guaranteed a good year assuming weather conditions cooperate. That’s good for our micro-economy. I can live without cauliflower for a little while (well, truth be told, a long while) because I know that soon, our farmers will be planting and I have complete confidence in their ability to deliver. I might even try my hand at a decent garden myself. But that’s for another column.
So chin up Salmon Arm. Wether your glass is half full or half empty, you can still douse the flames. The glass is refillable and we’ve got plenty of water.
In you, I am, most certainly confident.
This column first appeared in the December All Month edition of the Salmon Arm Friday AM
Christmas came early for me this year with the new government’s first announcement that the mandatory long form census would be restored. Sometimes the best presents are the most difficult to wrap. Numbers – good, properly collected ones – are important because, like words, they tell compelling stories and make better decisions.
I invite you to spend some time with your friendly neighbourhood statistics at statcan.gc.ca. Simply enter Salmon Arm in the search box on the top right hand corner and, voila, our numerical story unfolds.
We are relatively older than the provincial and national averages. At the last census, the median age in Salmon was 48 while the national average was 40. Some cities in Canada are 10 years younger than the national average. It’s important to know this because, just like people, no two cities are alike. Often times, a provincial or national “one size fits all” policy decision does not fit all at all. Which is why good representation from MPs, MLAs and municipal councillors is so important, especially in smaller communities.
Not all of the demographic cohort grow at the same rate. For instance, from 2006 to 2011, the population growth in the 65+ category grew by 16.6 percent while Salmon Arm overall grew at 9.1 percent.
We earn slightly less than the provincial average but our housing costs are significantly lower.
The median after-tax income of economic families in Salmon Arm in 2010 was $57,223 (British Columbia of $67,915) But our average monthly shelter costs are 76% of the provincial average.
Most of us live in single family dwellings and the median value is $349,000. When you compare this to the average $667,000 home price in British Columbia in 2015, up almost 100,000 since 2014, you can see the early conditions under which young families with some labour mobility from the Lower Mainland might consider a move to Salmon Arm thus giving us the opportunity to lower our median age which is important for long term future planning.
Given our older demographic, it might not surprise you that many of us drive ourselves to work. Some of us walk. Few of us take the bus or ride our bike. Active transportation is an area in need of improvement and is an attractive quality to newcomers. In fact, if you look up a real estate listing in the area, you might note the “walk score” of the property in question. Building trails, connecting neighbourhood and enhancing a community’s health adds value to our properties and indeed to our lifestyles.
Of course you’ll remember that the Christmas story also had to do with a long walk and a census. Mary and Joseph travelled on foot (mostly) to Bethlehem to be counted, after all.
Perhaps Christmas is a reminder that we all need to stand up and be counted; for what we believe in, for what we care about, for what we contribute and this Christmas especially, for the newcomers (from near and far) who will soon settle here and be counted among us.
I have spent countless, honestly, a ridiculous amount, of hours pondering this federal election.
I woke up today as nervous as I did the day I was elected to Council in my own town. Why are some of us driven to care so much about the outcome of the vote? Who knows. But I can tell you, my life would not be the same without it. And despite the butterflies and total disregard to household detail, I’m grateful for it.
That’s been the trend (with one exception), I must admit. But if I get any sleep tonight, it’s because I think this time is different. You see, it’s not a general election for me, it’s a generational one.
So I will lay bare all my votes this past so many years. I hope I remember most of them. But I’m getting to the age where the details get a bit fuzzy.
1984 – I voted for Jean Jacques Blais – a Liberal Cabinet Minister. A stand up guy. He wrote me a letter of reference for the Parliamentary Page Programme. When offered six tickets to the Queen’s State Dinner in Toronto that same year, he invited high school students instead of campaign donors – I made that list. All round stand up guy. Got pummelled by a nice guy named Mo. Tough lesson. Something about “patronage” and “not having a choice”. We always have choices.
1988 – As a young economics student, I was enthralled by the possibility of “free” trade. I voted Conservative. The Liberal incumbent, who I would eventually work for, won handily. He understood that serving the constituents was his number one job and they rewarded him for that. Lesson learned.
1993 – I voted for Kim Campbell. Her house was two doors down from my apartment in Vancouver. I learned that being a good neighbour was more important than politics.
1997 – I honestly can’t remember. I don’t think I voted Liberal because the candidate had spelling mistakes in the flyers and I was in the publishing business. Fickle, I know.
2000 – I voted for Joe Clark. I always liked him. Still do. No go.
2004 – Again, not sure. Maybe Jean Charest. He was a Minister when I was a Page. Nice guy. Capable. young, promising. A girl can dream. He lost too.
2006 – Likely Conservative – I liked (and still like) Colin Mayes, Mayor of Salmon Arm and new federal candidate at the time. They won. Just barely.
2008 – Liberal – though I was uninspired by the local candidate. Was seeing that my 2006 vote might not have paid the dividends I’d hoped for.
2011 – Green – Elizabeth May continues to be a powerful and inspiring voice. I hope tomorrow’s winner remembers that.
2015 – This time, I’ll vote Liberal. And it’s the first time, I feel great about the candidate AND the leader. I feel good about the vote for my parents (whom, I’m sorry to say, haven’t figured greatly in my previous votes). My mom is, to say the least, not a fan of Harper. My dad is unsure about “young Justin”. I hope they don’t cancel out each other’s vote. But I know they’ll vote as they need to because they are honest, determined, smart, kind and considerate. But mostly, I feel good about a Liberal vote for the young people in my life. My kids, my nieces and nephews and their friends, my students, the young people I get to work with every day. It’s their Canada now. And I want them to have that.
So maybe, just maybe, the lesson is that when you cast a vote for you, it doesn’t always turn out as you might have liked but when you cast a vote for the benefit of the people you love and care about, things work out.
Trudeau Sr. was famous for quoting Desiderata by Max Ehrmann “The universe is unfolding as it should”. Here’s hoping.