Alberta’s history shows economic downturns don’t last forever – by Jeffrey Jones (Globe and Mail – January 13, 2016)

CALGARY – A grainy TV news item from a previous economic bust in Alberta found new life on social media this week. it’s worth a look, and not just for the hairstyles.

The CBC report from the 1980s showed Calgary business leaders kicking off a campaign to try to lift the city out of its economic funk with a toe-tapping jingle, and a slogan: “Yes We Can!” (This predated U.S. President Barack Obama’s first campaign slogan by a quarter-century.)

The idea behind the campaign was to try to reverse the negative mindset that came along with falling oil prices, runaway inflation and the stagnant local economy. The climax of the report showed former mayor Ralph Klein talking about improving the “mental climate” before climbing into a front-end loader and driving it right through a “barricade of negativity” fashioned out of two-by-fours.

Watching it during a downturn more than three decades later, one wishes such a quaint gimmick would work – that all it would take was a little positivity to pull the economy out of its doldrums.

Today, Calgary and Alberta as a whole are still largely at the mercy of global oil markets, even if the provincial government has started a new push to diversify the economy.

That means that all the warm thoughts the province can muster are not going to convince the leaders of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to retreat in their price war that has pushed West Texas intermediate oil down to $30 (U.S.) a barrel.

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