Another year has gone by, fading into the annals of history. Looking back on the year that was, it was filled with many an up and down, many a cheer and a disappointment. It was a year that was black in its dreariness and brilliant in its successes (depending on what view one takes).
So, what of 2004? Are we to expect more of the same? Judging from what I've seen, it seems little will change. Even after the turmoil and the glory, when we eventually sit back and review 2004, what will we reflect upon?
Canada finally saw the back of "the little guy from Shawinigan," Jean Chretien, in 2003 and the ascension of one Paul Martin, the man who came second for the leadership in 1990. While Martin sounds like the miracle man who will clean up Ottawa, defeat the "democratic deficit" in Parliament, and champion peripheral regions (namely the West), the feeble moves he has taken so far are hardly convincing that, in the long run, he will continue to be all these aforementioned things, setting himself apart from his predecessors. Cabinets can be shuffled at any time, and promises can be swept under the carpet at the blink of an eye.
But will this change Ottawa? Perhaps. In 2004, all will be revealed especially when the Liberals may actually have some opposition this time from the united Conservatives and the Jack Layton-led New Democratic Party.
So what news will make the headlines in 2004?
In 2003, the United States finally accomplished a goal it had tried in vain for 12 years to complete: the conquest of Iraq and the capture of Saddam Hussein. Also in 2003, the world witnessed the outbreak, spread and eventual containment of a virus called SARS, Alberta's mad cows and their ramifications on the North American beef industry, wildfires torched most of western North America, the American economy weakened (and the American dollar along with it), and so forth.
Will 2004 see the return of SARS? Or the capture of master terrorist Osama bin Laden? More planes coming out of the sky? Or maybe, just maybe, none of the above?
Yes, 2004 seems to be a new year, but how will it differ from 2003? From where I sit, it doesn't look too promising.