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A different version of 2008

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Remember Y2K? Seems pretty embarrassing now, doesn’t it? Like when you got drunk for the first time. Except on Dec. 31, 1999 it was everyone, everywhere: Stocking up on canned food, waiting for the sky to come crashing down, and for the world to turn into chaos. And then the next day, things were exactly the same.

Except for your head hurt, thanks to a hangover and Y2K humiliation.

Even if you weren’t one of the ones who panicked as 1999 switched to 2000, you must have at least held your breath for a millisecond or made a quick Plan B.

It’s a know fact that predictions often don’t pan out. The past year alone is full of out-of-the-blue events. Who would have thought last year that Wall Street greed would cause the worst recession since the 1930s? Who would have thought a senate rookie would win the American presidential election and capture hearts around the world? And who would have thought Blackcomb Gondola would fall apart four days after Peak 2 Peak’s magnificent opening?

As much as I would like to stare into my crystal ball and predict the next 365 days of 2009, I have a sneaking suspicion my glimpses would be egg-on-my-face wrong, just like Y2K was for many. Instead I decided to turn to the brave folk who walked out on a limb and speculated on 2008. Here, in the words of others, is a look at the year we didn’t end up living…

 

On the economy:

“We will not run a deficit,” said Canada’s Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Oct. 9, two months before the Conservative government announced they may run a multi-billion deficit next year to deal with global financial crisis.

“We believe we will see a significant rebound in the stock market as the credit crunch will come to an end, and it will not be as bad as some people believe,” said Benjamin Tal from CIBC World Markets, talking to the Toronto Star on Jan. 1, 2008.

“Anyone who says we are in a recession or heading into one — especially the worst one since the Great Depression — is making up his own private definition of ‘recession,’” wrote Donald Luskin in the Sept. 14 Washington Post, the day before the Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy with a record $613 billion debt.

And, the same day the Lehman Brothers went up in flames, John McCain said: “The fundamentals of America’s economy are strong.”

 

On Canadian politics:

“Canada will decide in 2008 to withdraw its 2,300 troops from Afghanistan’s troubled Kandahar province,” wrote Jeffrey Simpson in The Economist on Nov. 15, 2007. Today, the troops are still in Kandahar. And rumours are now swirling that Canada may extend its mission beyond December 2011.

“We Liberals are prepared to defeat the Conservatives because we know that Canadians are tired of this government and want change,” said former Liberal leader Stephen Dion on Sept. 4. Stephen Harper still remains in charge of a Conservative minority government.

 

On U.S.A. politics:

“Barack Obama is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single Democratic primary. I’ll predict that right now,” William Kristol, Fox News Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006.

“I’ll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office,” said George W. Bush on May 12, 2008. Bush’s approval rating has now dipped below 20 per cent.

 

And, closer to home, here a sampling of what people in-and-around Whistler said…

“We are feeling confident that if things keep moving, it will work,” said Bruce Russell from SG Blocks — suppliers for the Phoenix housing project — in early May. The project was canceled in September because SG Blocks was short $3 million.

“It is one of those milestones on the way to our (2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic) Games,” said Michele Comeau Thompson, spokesperson for the Resort Municipality of Whistler, on the 2008 Paralympic torch’s trip through Whistler. The relay route was later limited to China.

“(They can) reapply, but in the decision it says that this approval is for the 2008 event only and will not be renewed,” Colin Fry, Aug. 13, 2008 to The Province, about the Agricultural Land Commission’s review of the Pemberton Festival. On Nov. 18, the ALC OKed the music fest for the next decade.

“The mayor and council have lost the confidence of the community, and what is happening now is there is a swell of a desire to have an almost a clean slate come through and get Whistler back to what people had in mind for what this place is all about,” said mayoral candidate Brian Walker on Oct. 10. The community re-elected Mayor Ken Melamed, along with Councillors Ralph Forsyth and Eckhard Zeidler.

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