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Canada in 2050? Future's so bright . . . you know the rest Add to ...

I'd like to go all sci-fi on you, I really would. It's 2050, climate change happened, and this should mean the world is following the post-apocalyptic Hollywood horror script you environmentalist doom merchants wrote in the early 2000s.

You know what I'm talking about: floods, famine, infestations, solar death rays, endless riots, maybe even a few mutant attacks. Well, sorry to disappoint, but things have turned out not too bad. At least up here in Canada.

There's no Hollywood horror show, and not just because there's no Hollywood - as the rest of Los Angeles dried up and overheated, it just made sense to bring what was left of the movie business up to Vancouver and Toronto. The most unbelievable thing about 2050 is that the grande dame of the Canadian stage, Miss Lindsay Lohan, is still alive and kicking butt at the Iqaluit Panarctic Shakespeare Festival - so you got her wrong too. The Russians, bless their cultured souls, are serious fans and hover all the way from Murmansk for a matinee of her Queen Lear. But I digress.

If those sci-fi stories really had come true, I'd be teleporting this message to you just so you could see the future for the rosy thing it seems to be. Granted, I'm wearing rose-coloured glasses, standard issue for us senior analysts at the Fort McMurray Utopia Institute. But when I look back at the projections you guys conjured up back in the dark days of eco-prophecy, with your scare stories that made the Book of Revelation look like Goodnight Moon, I pride myself on my more optimistic fashion sense.

I can't time-travel my hopeful truths back to you, and yet I feel your fears for a future you refuse to see. So all I can do is record my thoughts here on the off chance that sci-fi will eventually come to the rescue and figure out how to transcend the laws of time and space long enough for you to hear what I'm saying and come to your senses.

As if. But stranger things have happened, as your children will soon discover. Canada in 2050 isn't utopia - not yet, though we're working on it. With that said, I think you'd find it pretty incredible.

Arctic dreams

The country is warmer, it goes without saying. And, big surprise, the resilient Canadian people (the very same ones who once learned how to wear tuques and long johns) figured out how to adapt. Couldn't folks in the early years of the 21st century understand why a little more heat might just be a good thing? But you were so fixated on seeing the negatives, on fearing change rather than making it serve you, on feeling globally without thinking locally. And so you took your eye off the prize and almost knocked Canada off the podium that was ours to own.

For example, look at the Arctic, where we're born to rule. The focus 40 or 50 years ago was on cute polar bears and winsome seals, the pristine waters and traditional ways of life that were about to be no more. Well, yes, progress brings risks, and we've done our best to manage them - we're not in a state of denial. But prosperity was ours to take in the Arctic, thanks to warmer temperatures, and we seized it.

Or rather the native people did, for the most part. The hunting isn't quite what it was, the elders all insist, as elders do, but the young people aren't complaining. They're thrilled to have good jobs waiting for them when they leave school - schools that are much stronger and more competitive thanks to the tax money raised from opening up the deep-water Arctic ports and setting loose the resource industries to extract natural gas from the seabed. You didn't think all that money would just go back to Toronto and Vancouver the way it used to before the Arctic peoples started flexing their muscles? Hey, you talked aboriginal rights, but we did it.

And in a transformative way, none of this stratified documentary-era lifestyle of ancient rituals and regrets. If you want that in 2050, you can go to Siberia where the cagey Russians still keep the native Other repressed in the glorious past while happily pocketing the oil and gas profits for themselves.

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