Five ways life in Canada could change in 2014

Your local Tim Hortons will unionize, flying in Canada will get cheaper and Harper will resign. Plus two more predictions for 2014

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(Brent Lewin/Bloomberg/Getty)

(Brent Lewin/Bloomberg/Getty)

A foreign telco will finally come to Canada: When Verizon backed away from Canada last year, you could almost hear Industry Minister James Moore sobbing into his suit jacket. The feds failed to woo any foreign carriers, but that’s no reason to admit defeat. “There is a very good chance that Verizon or another large-scale U.S. wireless carrier will come back to Canada,” says one telecom analyst who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Verizon was very interested in Canada, and the economics were compelling.” Don’t be surprised if another bidder emerges once complications around the upcoming spectrum auction are resolved. It would be pretty easy to snap up struggling Wind Mobile, the biggest of the upstart carriers, once it acquires the high-quality spectrum necessary to compete with established players.

B.C. will get its first LNG Plant: In February, British Columbia will unveil its tax and royalties structure for liquefied natural gas producers. Once that happens, it’ll be time for proponents of the huge export terminals on the West Coast to put up or miss a finite window of opportunity. Expect Canada’s first LNG plant to get the go-ahead before year end. It’ll have significant consequences for the economy. “If only three of the 14 project consortia move forward,” noted energy economist Peter Tertzakian, “the spending ramp-up mid-decade will be greater than that of the oilsands bonanza 10 years ago.”

(Canadian Press)

(Canadian Press)

We’ll fly to Calgary on the cheap: The highly profitable duopoly of Air Canada and WestJet over long-haul air travel will be challenged in 2014 as Toronto-based Porter Airlines, Vancouver upstart Canada Jetlines and Calgary-based Enerjet introduce cheaper flights between major Canadian cities. Whether any of these entrants has more staying power than, say, a Canada 3000 or Greyhound Air remains to be seen, but in the meantime enjoy the affordable ride.

Harper will step down: The prime minister has emphatically denied rumours of his impending departure. What else can he say? Publicly musing about retirement would divide his party into rival leadership factions. But the next federal election is set for October 2015. With the Conservatives remaining mired in the Senate scandal and 56% of Canadians in a year-end poll saying the government is doing a poor job, they’ll want a fresh face to lead them into that race. Harper needs to step aside now to allow time for a leadership contest to occur. Read James Cowan’s column on why Harper will resign>>

(iStock)

(iStock)

Your local Tim Hortons will unionize: Public-sector union leaders are already bracing for battle in 2014: the Alberta government has introduced harsh new anti-strike legislation, the federal government appears set on making organized labour its new bête noire, and Ontario’s PC party is promising U.S.-style “right to work” legislation if elected. But all that may pale compared to the labour war brewing in the private sector. In the U.S., it has already begun, with flash strikes targeting fast-food chains and well-funded battles for a living wage in Seattle and other cities. Expect that fight to begin trickling over the border this year. In some ways, it already has. Canadian unions have begun flexing their muscles in areas previously outside their range—standing up for non-unionized temporary foreign workers at Tim Hortons in B.C. and even, through Unifor, the country’s largest union, opening a form of membership to everyone from part-time workers to the unemployed. In 2014, the era of Canadian labour peace will end.

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