We begin the New Year 2012 with a look back at the year just ended, a kind of stocktaking, if you will. For, in looking back, we can perhaps have some sense of where we are headed in 2012 and how we will handle what is ahead of us.
To begin with, the previously optimistic federal Conservative government has for months been warning us that there will be difficult times ahead for our economy. We have been tutored on the grave economic climate in Europe, and politicians of many stripes have echoed fears of how the debt crisis there will eventually affect us on this side of the Atlantic.
Canadian trade with Europe amounts these days to some $104 billion annually, some 10 per cent of our exports and imports.
Compare that with Canada-CARICOM trade which amounts to $2.4 billion annually. The most recent figures show Canadian exports to the CARICOM countries at $807.3 million and imports at $1.6 billion.
Of course, Canada and the United States still have the largest trade relationship in the world; merchandise trade alone was $303.4 billion in imports and $230.3 billion in exports in 2006.
But what is leading to worry is impending decline. In October last year, for instance, Canada’s exports worldwide declined 3.0 per cent and imports rose 1.9 per cent moving our trade balance from a surplus of $1.0 billion in September 2011 to a deficit of $885 million in October despite retaining a trade surplus with the U.S., which nonetheless fell from $4.1 billion in September to $3.1 billion in October.
Fluctuations do occur, but with the ongoing European debt crisis and an already massive $570.5 billion in public debt to contend with, any decline in trade has to be a matter of some concern.
Moreover, our national unemployment rate rose from 7.3 per cent in October to 7.4 per cent in November. At the same time, there is anxiousness about avoiding any notion of a depression in our economy.
We know, regardless of what the times call for, or don’t call for, that economically these are not the best of times. The Occupy movement that took hold worldwide and the so-called Arab Spring are clear indications of that. Protests arise in times of uncertainty.
But let us not lose hope, for we have what it takes to overcome tough times. Within our community, for example, we have seen thousands of efforts of ingenuity that defy expectations and lead to success.
Over the past year, the accomplishments and the talents that have covered the pages of Share tell a story of people who are creative, talented and innovative self-starters who are contributing to the richness of this nation. There are people in our community who contribute to this country every day through their extraordinary talents and resolve.
So, we may ponder the dire warnings or we can instead focus in difficult times on ways to meet the challenges ahead with our proven resourcefulness and determination.
That is how Fitzroy Gordon was able to finally bring to air for our community and the Greater Toronto Area at large radio station CARN 98.7 FM. That is also how, after more than 30 years of advocacy, an Africentric alternative high school was given the go ahead by the Toronto District School Board.
You may not have seen the report anywhere else of the students from Blessed Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School in Scarborough who won the gold medal at the National Society for Black Engineers Region One robotics conference held in Boston, Mass. last fall, but you will read about such accomplishments in Share.
These and many of our other achievements are the result of people in our community working together for a common goal. This is how we will be able to make our way through the year with a positive sense of direction.
It is during challenging times such as these that new ideas are born and new and sometimes better ways of doing things emerge. We will need to keep that focus to not become overwhelmed by doomsayers.
Happy New Year to you and yours.