The page has turned on another year, officially putting 2018 in the rear-view window. A new year lies ahead, offering either a blank canvas of exciting possibilities or a daunting road to worrisome unknowns, depending on your perspective.
There are certainly some reasons to welcome the end of 2018. There were tragic events, including last April’s horrific bus-semi trailer collision that killed 16 members of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team and left others with serious injuries. There were immense challenges, such as the ongoing opioid crisis as well as economic troubles linked to low oil prices and stifled efforts to build a pipeline,
Those two major challenges remain as we head into 2019. The opioid crisis is being felt across the continent, and Lethbridge has certainly not been immune from the difficulties. Locally, the drug crisis has proven to be harshly polarizing, sparking anger and frustration from all corners of the community.
The continuing pipeline debate is another hot-button issue, with oilpatch workers and families growing increasingly frustrated with stymied attempts to built a pipeline that can transport Western Canadian oil products to distant markets. Meanwhile, Alberta is moving to reduce oil production in a bid to boost discounted prices.
The pipeline issue can be expected to be a major topic of discussion as we head toward a fall federal election. Other issues still on the radar for voters is the tide of asylum seekers who entered the country at unofficial border crossings and the carbon pricing debate, with several provinces challenging the constitutionality of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax.
Then, too, is ongoing uncertainty about ties with the United States, particularly over the recently agreed-upon trade deal to replace NAFTA. U.S. President Donald Trump’s unyielding hardline stance on trade matters is sure to continue to present challenges for Canada in the coming year.
Before the federal election, however, Alberta voters will head to the polls this spring to decide whether to give Premier Rachel Notley another mandate or to make a change in government. Will the province’s revamped conservatives, the United Conservative Party under Jason Kenney, take Alberta back to the right? Time will tell.
There are certainly challenges ahead in 2019, but history has shown us that challenges are best overcome by working together. Perhaps a helpful resolution for this new year is that differences and partisan politics can be set aside in the greater interest of finding solutions to common problems.