Spring 2019: Views from the Crowsnest

Welcome to the Spring 2019 edition of Views from the Crowsnest…and welcome to crazy times!

Before I jump into commentary, I wanted to remind everyone that next week in Calgary, I’m presenting two complimentary personal finance workshops called  “Will You Be the Bug or the Windshield? Your Survival Guide for Canada’s Economic Turmoil.” Topics include:

  • Creating a personalized wealth management plan
  • Taking advantage of rising interest rates
  • Improving returns and reducing risk with private assets
  • And more…

From the feedback so far, it’s fair to say that our recent “Alberta Crossroads 2019” conference at MRU was a real success. Over 225 people listened carefully to Vivian Krause, Cody Battershill, Mark Milke, Franco Terrazzano, Josef Schachter and Michael Campbell. The intention behind the conference was to be part of the antidote to the chaos all around us here in Alberta. Our great speakers informed, educated, inspired and even surprised our audience. “Stop being complacent, get engaged” was the message, and it was very well received. We’ll send out the video recording as soon as it’s ready.

So the writ has been dropped here in Alberta, finally. Everyone here has been amped up about an impending Alberta election call for at least a month, so it’s nice that the 28 day clock has started. Oh yes, and that acronym whose meaning has evolved to mean federal Liberal scandal: SNC.

So why should we care about all the political stuff provincially or federally? Simply put, you can ignore economics and politics; but they won’t ignore you.

Governments have the ability to burden or benefit the economy with their policies, via taxes, regulation and subsidies. The last four years in Canada have proven that beyond doubt. The political principles that inspire policy makers really matter. Platitudes, slogans and smears are relatively easy to craft and throw around. But drafting effective policy that doesn’t create significant negative consequences is exceptionally difficult.

Policy creates winners and losers, and that has a direct impact on families, including our Clients. Calgary’s employment and real estate markets are a case study on the effects of bad policy. And the robust U.S. economy shows the results of better – albeit imperfect – policy, even when crafted by a chaotic administration. It really IS about policy, not personalities.

That being the case, I sincerely wish that politics didn’t matter so much. It creates conflict, uncertainty, outrage, frustration, exhaustion and polarization. With our political party system, tribalism is inevitable. Even sincere and well-intentioned people entering the political game risk being lured into power games. Scandals are inevitable. Every voter knows that, regardless of how they cast their vote, the candidate, the party and its leader are flawed – sometimes significantly. Perhaps there’s a market for nose plugs to be sold outside polling stations?

At the Federal level, this week was also pretty raucous. The Liberals appear intent on keeping the SNC scandal alive with their rolling cover-up shenanigans in the Justice Committee. Despite attempted disruption by the Conservatives, Finance Minister Morneau tabled their pre-election Budget. Projected deficits: this year $15 billion, and around $20 billion each of the following two years.  Click here for a Financial Post video summary

There’s nothing to help address Canada’s plummeting global competitiveness, and no income tax relief. Lots of platitudes and “free” goodies for targeted voting blocks, all financed by deficits and debt that future generations must deal with. What happens when interest rates really start to rise? That’s right, less money for current programs as interest payments increase.

Patience and Discipline are accretive to your wealth, health and happiness; so focus on these.