By PAT WATSON
Right on cue and on its own volition, the dusty crystal ball (DCB) rolled out from an ignored corner of the psyche into the centre of the conversation to give its annual fractured predictions for the coming year.
But, before launching into a rapid-fire list of coming events, the DCB offered up condolences for the fatal twists and turns of 2014, the year in which “I can’t breathe” took on poignancy. The dying words of New York City resident Eric Garner, as the result of a chokehold administered during a confrontation with a member of the New York City Police, became a hashtag, a t-shirt and protest slogan across the planet. The shooting deaths by U.S. police of Michael Brown, 18, and Tamir Rice, 12, similarly unarmed, also fanned the flames of protest.
Those protests against a pattern of White police shooting unarmed young Black men in the United States struck a chord everywhere, including here in Toronto, where similar fatalities have occurred.
Twenty-fourteen was the year that Toronto almost had a chance at voting for or against Rob Ford again, until fate stepped in and curtailed Ford’s mayoral ambitions.
It was another year in which the rich continued to grow recklessly richer and the population of the poor increased exponentially, as the middle class continued to slide into that struggling economic segment.
With those worries still fresh, the world wipes the flop sweat of 2014 off its collective brow and looks ahead, remaining ever hopeful. So says the DCB.
Building on last year, the DCB sees social media as a tool for protest growing, with the power of recent protest movements proving that a new way of coalescing for social justice is becoming concretized. After the massive and widely publicized protests in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City and Washington DC, a new protest paradigm emerges that continues to grow in effectiveness.
Computer hacking is about to take off as a not so secret paid occupation. At the same time, development of computer systems security skyrocket, becoming a new growth industry. Computer engineers are advised to sharpen their resumes thusly. The third world war will likely be fought in cyberspace, says the DCB.
Once again, in building on the issues that mattered in 2014, the coming year will see a growing debate about racism: What it is; what it isn’t; what it looks like; and what it does; who it harms; who benefits. The energy that will go into this worldwide discussion will at times look like a war of words and there could be threats of violence, especially in the gun-toting U.S. Eventually, greater understanding will emerge, however the DCB is unclear when that will occur.
Canada will risk becoming a pariah nation for its stance on continuing to support carbon industries. The issue will lead to defeat of an intransigent federal government, as Canadians look to reclaim the high moral ground on the climate change crisis. High profile environmentalist David Suzuki considers a run for politics.
The influx of international visitors to the Pan American Games being hosted in Toronto this summer makes the public transit problems of yesteryear look like a minor issue. Visitors will find using local public transit to be ‘memorable’. At the same time, Toronto’s profile as a must-see tourist destination will gain ground, spawning economic and jobs growth in the hospitality and service sectors. Private citizens earn needed income by renting rooms in their homes and expanding on bed-and-breakfast services. Clever marketers will tout international cuisine as added inducements.
The Toronto Raptors shock the basketball world by taking the league championship this year. Rapper Drake will try to take the credit. Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs changes its name to Maple Leaves, hoping to break its record-making dry run at the Stanley Cup.
A note on Christmas weather, past present and future…
As if to show she can do as she pleases, Mother Nature chose the drama of a big wind for Christmas 2014 over the terror of another ice storm. Those who are not partial to shoveling snow or navigating ice-covered sidewalks breathed a sigh of relief. Still, one has to wonder what’s next, a tropical wave for Christmas 2015?
Pat Watson is the author of the e-book, In Through A Coloured Lens. Twitter@patprose.