COVER

WHAT'S HOT FOR '99

Peering into the future, Maclean’s tracks the trends that will mark the closing months of the millennium

ROSS LAVER January 18 1999
COVER

WHAT'S HOT FOR '99

Peering into the future, Maclean’s tracks the trends that will mark the closing months of the millennium

ROSS LAVER January 18 1999

COVER

Peering into the future, Maclean’s tracks the trends that will mark the closing months of the millennium

ROSS LAVER

Divining the future is tricky at the best of times, especially in an age of fickle consumers, eversmarter computers and ever-shorter attention spans. By the time many of us discover the latest new face, fad or pop culture craze, he, she or it is often hopelessly passé. Matthew McConaughey, last year’s Hollywood hunk-du-jour? Tickle Me Elmo? Ellen DeGeneres? Thai food? Online chat? Big, overstuffed furniture? Yellow walls? “Oh, please,” to quote the Valley Girl protagonist of the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer. “That’s so five minutes ago.”

But not all trends are difficult to foresee. Consider these relatively safe predictions for 1999:

Around the world, huge corporations will mate with wild abandon, delighting shareholders and endangering tens of thousands of jobs. A critically derided pop group will rocket up the charts, fuelling nostalgia for classic 1970s acts such as the Bay City Rollers. Scores of otherwise undistinguished firms will add “.com” to their names in a bid to sound technologically hip. Boomers will seize on a new wonder therapy that promises longer lives or better sex. A long-forgotten clothing fad will resurface, hailed by teen fashion mavens as the hottest thing since platform shoes. Millions of people will stockpile food and other necessities in fear of the Y2K computer bug, even while experts insist the problem is under control. There will be a run on champagne in the final weeks of 1999, yet many people—tired of the media’s fixation on

the subject—will profess themselves prematurely weary of the new millennium. Journalists, desperate for something new to write about, will speculate about life in the year 3000.

If none of that sounds terribly appealing, neither does the scenario painted by some professional trend-spotters. Toronto-based Martin Goldfarb has been a market researcher since the 1960s, with a consulting practice that now extends to 23 countries. One of the trends he expects to see strengthened in 1999 is a growing lack of commitment on the part of employees to their employers—signifying a backlash to corporate layoffs and a rising mood of impatience among younger employees who do not want to wait around for a promotion. In the future, he says, companies will have to work harder to retain valued staff. At the same time, the rising ratio of females to males among university graduates will contribute to a drop in family incomes, Goldfarb believes, because women will continue to earn less than men, while men

WHAT'S HOT FOR '99

will experience higher rates of unemployment. Goldfarb sees a link between several other likely trends and last year’s dramatic fall in the value of the Canadian dollar, Canadians will be travelling less outside the country and buying fewer imported goods. Increasingly, the smartest and most talented among us, particularly the young, will feel drawn to the United States, where the financial opportunities are often greater. “After free trade took effect 10 years ago, thousands of manufacturing jobs moved to the United States or Mexico,” recalls Goldfarb. “Now, we’re entering a new economic phase, which involves the loss of executive, marketing, database management and professional jobs. The deals and the thinking are being done in the U.S.” On top of that, the lower Canadian dollar means domestic firms are attractive takeover targets: in 1999 Goldfarb expects a rash of U.S.-led Corporate mergers and acquisitions.

To pollster Michael Adams, the overriding theme at the end of the century is what he calls a culture of resentment—a widely shared belief that technology and globalization are ex■érting too much influence on people’s lives, endangering jobs

and traditional social values. Adams, the president of Toronto-based Environics Research Group, thinks that one of the biggest political trends of 1999 will be an emphasis on shoring up the crumbling health-care system. “If it’s a choice between tax breaks and throwing more money into health and other essential services, the consensus is going to favour restored funding,” he says.

The high level of taxation, however, means that consumers will continue to feel pinched. For all but the very rich, ostentatious consumption is out, replaced by a fierce pragmatism. “People are almost looking at their purchases as investments,” Adams says. “They want quality but it has to be at a bargain price.” Mid-range department stores, as a result, will be pushed further to the brink in 1999. And rather than buying things, Canadians will increasingly shop for experiences, at the local megaplex or at one of a new generation of urban entertainment centres that offer simulated whitewater rafting, indoor rock-climbing and plenty of free parking. “There’s a large group of people who want more intensity—more jolts— in their lives and are willing to pay for it,” Adams says,

If last year was anything to go by, jolts—of the climatic variety, on the stock market and in politics—will be plentiful in 1999. On the following pages, Maclean's offers a guide to some of the year’s most likely trends, from the realm of technology to the world of literature and the arts. Watch for them—bearing in mind, of course, that the hottest trend of 1999 will be something that nobody, least of all the experts, saw coming. □

RECONCILIATION IS THIS YEAR’S RAGE

Reconciliation is the special on 1999’s entertainment menu. After a decade epitomized by acrimony—right versus left, Starr versus Clinton, America versus Iraq, Spice Girls versus All Saints, Bouchard versus Canada—the public wants to kiss and make up. It seems you can’t turn on the TV, open a book or go to the movies without hitting a plotline involving families being reunited, lovers mending broken hearts, global harmonization and the happy settling of scores.

Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace, one of the year’s most anticipated films, reconciles arch-villain Darth Vader’s bad side with his good. In this instalment, we see the helmeted deep breather as a mildmannered nine-year-old full of hope and warmth. Still Crazy, starring Irish actor Stephen Rea, tells the story of an estranged Seventies rock band reuniting for one last gig. In The Deep End of the Ocean, a child who was abducted at age 3 is returned to his mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) at 12. In Bill Murray’s Rushmore, a boy heading for Oxford and his benefactor make up after fighting over the affections of the same woman. Even the film Ten Things I Hate About You has reconciliation at its core. The teen comedy (based on The Taming of the Shrew) features feuding sisters who eventually find true love and mutual understanding (as is often the case in Hollywood).

Last summer saw the beginning of a pop-culture reconciliation between baby boomers and their parents’ generation in movies and books with the opening of Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. It was followed in the fall by NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw’s best-seller The Greatest Generation paying homage to the men and women who weathered the Depression and defeated Nazi Germany. The Thin Red Line continues this embrace of the war generation’s sacrifices. Rock ’n’ roll’s most turbulent partnership, meanwhile, is illuminated in biographer Geoffrey Giuliano’s Two of Us: The Love-Hate Relationship of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The book reconciles the pair’s tumultuous rivalry with their genius as a songwriting team.

Finally, Canadians may reconcile millennial hype with millennial reality. With Pooh and the Millennium (arguably the most tenuous connection yet) due out in March, it is unlikely that anyone will be able to mouth the words “Year 2000” without placing tongue firmly in cheek. Those wishing to sing a song of reconciliation can lip-sync to Irish troupe B*Witched’s North American debut single, the anthem of reconciling one’s hopes with one’s reality—C’est La Vie.

In pursuit of the extreme

To boldly watch while others go where no man—or woman—has gone before. That’s “explornography,” and that’s what Canadians can expect more of on television and in book stores.

Building palaces

With every inch of planet Earth mapped, there is a growing fascination with dangerous exploration. Fanatic explornographers spend thousands on adventure vacations. The rest live vicariously through series such as the Outdoor Life Network’s Wildlife Adventures II and one-off documentaries like the History Television’s Jan. 24 airing of HMS Pandora (a film chronicling the English ship’s 1790 voyage to Tahiti). The formula is simple: risk plus exotic location equals explornography thrills. Take the Discovery Channel’s five-part series Eco-Challenge, an annual race through “extreme” terrain. The next instalment, to be broadcast internationally starting on April 11, is a 10-day, 500-km odyssey that pits 56 eco-adventure teams against each other as they run, swim, paddle and climb over Morocco. Can “Buffy the Rock Climber,” the mini-series, be far off?

Movie palaces. The term is evocative of the earliest days of the cinema, when “moving pictures” alone were enough of a novelty to draw crowds. But why bother going out to a movie theatre now, when there is a vast array of state-ofthe-art home entertainment?

That was the conundrum facing Canada’s theatre-chain executives. Their answer: build new movie palaces.

Of course, other than size, these 1999 megaplexes bear little resemblance to the cinematic temples of yore. A huge, curved, floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall screen, clearly visible to each audience member thanks to stadium-style tiered seating, is but one of the attractions. The entertainment can start long before the movie does. Famous Players, which is opening 23 theatres with 329 screens in Canada in 1999, has an interactive game centre in many of its new lobbies. And movie goers can now buy brand-name pizza, ice cream and coffee. One irony: some of the new movie palaces are so huge that they are being built on the site of old drivein theatres.

WEB FOR STUDENTS NOT SHOPPERS

Forget online shopping. No less a guru than Microsoft’s Bill Gates says education will be the dominating force on the Internet. And he may well be right. Again. By the end of this year, every school in Canada will be hooked up to the Internet, and “courseware” for students from kindergarten to MBA is growing like Topsy. TeleEducation New Brunswick, a provincial agency that keeps a database of online courses from around the world, has more than 10,000 registered with nearly 1,000 courses being added each month. Colleges and universities are salivating at the money to be made in employee upgrading as 90 per cent of large corporations say they intend to open some form of electronic learning right on the desktop or shop floor. Online learning—available to anyone with a computer modem at any hour of the day or night—is a hot ticket. So hot that the Rock and Roll Flail of Fame in Cleveland promises to deliver its pop culture course online by fall. Whole lotta shakin’ going on.

A TIME OF TEEN TYRANNY

Move over, baby boomers—your kids have all the power now. The most influential consumer group to emerge in today’s market is teenagers. With money earned from parttime jobs or allowance, and no mortgage to crimp their spending, 2.8 million Canadian teens wield considerable buying power, as astute marketers have started to realize.

Aiming products at young people is not new, but in the past

companies often wooed the parents. Teens nowadays have more freedom and power in making choices. It’s the age of teen tyranny. There are marketers whose primary occupation is to monitor what teens buy, eat, watch and wear. And a fashion style adopted by trendy teens in New York City or Los Angeles has a good chance of showing up on the shelves at Eaton’s— and not only in the youth section.

Teenagers, it seems, not only decide how to spend their own money, but their likes and dislikes influence how the family spends—affecting the choice of restaurants, entertainment and even car purchase. And some version of what they are currently wearing may very well be part of mom’s and dad’s wardrobes six months or a year down the road. But young people are also fickle, so what seems like a good idea today can be old news in a couple of months.

Teen power is most apparent in the entertainment industry. Teenagers love to watch TV and movies, of course, and they have the power to make or break a production. The film Titanic has earned over $1.8 billion worldwide, most of that from love-struck teenage girls who saw it five or six times because they couldn’t get enough of Leonardo DiCaprio. For movie producers to make easy money this year, they have to cast a young star from a hit teen TV show, such as Dawson’s Creek, Felicity, Party of Five and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Then hire Kevin Williamson, the 33-year-old creator of Dawson’s Creek—the number 1 show in the youth market—to write or direct. Williamson, who seems to have his finger on the pulse of teen cool, was involved with three of the biggest movie hits of the past two years—Scream, Scream 2, and I Know What You Did Last Summer. His winning teen style will continue in 1999 with the much-anticipated Killing Mrs. Tingle and Scream 3. But, thankfully, the success of unabashedly adult movies like Shakespeare in Love means that there will continue to be entertainment for the not-so-young.

Hope for aging baby boomers

Aging baby boomers are letting the fight against the ravages ^ of time go to their heads, literally. Herbal supplements that promise improved memory and mental vigour are hot. At the cutting edge of smart drugs are nootropics, a class of supercharged vitamins and herbs recently approved for sale in the United States and presently being tested in Canada. “This stuff makes you alert without any of the harsh effects or edge of amphetamines,” says Robert McMaster, a natural health consultant in Toronto. In Canada, those who anxiously await the approval of nootropics can still turn to ginkgo biloba capsules, zinc lozenges and antioxidant vitamins available on drugstore shelves. Older Canadian boomers will also be poised for happy news from Ottawa in ’99: federal approval of Viagra, the potency drug.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN 1999

The retro novelty of

swing music __

and dancing W1 has waned, T , j while the \

success of \

Madonna’s rave-music inspired Ray of Light will haul techno and similar styles into the mainstream.

TV networks will lay on big lavish mini-series—such as ABC’s $46-million, four-hour Cleopatra, starring Timothy Dalton and airing in May. Event TV is the small-screen’s bid for viewers in a world cluttered with visual distractions.

In celebrityland, ^FTFJD

who's waxing, J^p ' wk 1

whos waning, wk

in 1999? ^

— . Vl0rissette Canada’s holy trinity of

music megastars, Celine,

Shania and Alanis, will continue to reign. But Twain and, especially, Dion, are so huge and ubiquitous that a major backlash could be building. Morissette—recently back from an 18-month sabbatical—seems destined to peak again with her latest album, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. Morissette’s upcoming North American tour will keep her in the limelight.

She even gets to play God in the upcoming movie Dogma.

Young film heartthrobs Matt Damon,

Ben Affleck,

Vince Vaughn and Leonardo DiCaprio will continue to blow

jttg Mel Gibson, ¿■f Harrison Ford

f ^ and anyone A else over 30 out of the water.

THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION

Get ready for the next major phase of the digital revolution, as the technology spreads from computer screens directly to your eyes and ears. This year, virtually every major electronics

company will bring to market new televisions, audio systems and other such ubiquitous appliances based on digital technology.

Foremost among these products are various permutations of digital television, which promises super-clear pictures and CD-quality sound. DTVs were the talk of the massive Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev., last week. Dozens of models will hit the shelves this year, as well as set-top boxes that will enable viewers to receive digital broadcasts on their soon-to-be-obsolete analogue tubes.

High-definition television is the bestknown version of DTV, but there are now lower end variants that still provide better pictures than the old analogue systems.

Though the first sets only hit the market late last year and are still stratospherically priced, DTV is guaranteed to be big: 43 U.S. stations are already sending out digital signals, and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has set 2006 as a target date for the complete phasing out of analogue broadcasting.

Similarly, digital video disks are about to send VCRs the way of the Betamax. With price tags under $300 (U.S.), DVD player sales reached almost one million south of the border last year.

Digital camcorders and cameras, which can swap images with a computer or digital TV, are likewise encroaching on older technologies. On the audio front, watch for new DVD systems and improved CD formats.

All of this has sparked heated competition for a system to integrate digital appliances and control them with a single remote. The death of analogue appears inevitable.

Rearview

mirror

Call it a new way to reinvent the wheel: this year automakers are reaching into their old stack of designs to update a couple of classics. Ford has unveiled a prototype for a Thunderbird that borrows from models of the late ’50s, complete with rounded headlamps and a hardtop with porthole windows. GM, meantime, plans to start selling a six-passenger Chevrolet Impala sedan with a V-6 engine by next summer. Even DaimlerChrysler’s bulbous hybrid of a car and van—the so-called crossover vehicledraws on the familiar profile of the old Volkswagen Beetle.

HOT CARS:

Daimler Chrysler’s new ‘crossover’ vehicle; retro T-Bird with porthole (bel

A breakthrough year for the Web

The search for more speed and simplicity will be the key trend fuelling the growth of the Net in 1999—a breakthrough year for the Web. Everlower computer prices, plus the convenience of faster, simpler

connections, will draw more Canadians to the Internet. Until recently b surfers were confined to slow dial-up modems, which can take frustrating minutes to download Web images and text. Now, so-called broadband connections, the high-speed services offered by some cable-TV and telephone companies, give Internet access the instant users turn on their computers, and allow Web pages to appear in split seconds. Faster connections will vastly improve the quality of Internet sound and video. And the enhanced services that result, such as videoconferencing with customers or friends, will increase the Net’s appeal. Only about 22 per cent of Canadian homes are currently connected to the Internet, but that is expected to rise to 30 per cent this year, according to Toronto-based consulting firm IDC Canada The real breakthrough in making the Internet a mass medium will come with the spread of more user-friendly computers. The popularity of Apple Computer Inc.’s innovative, easy-to-use iMac will prompt PC makers to introduce similar, plug-and-play personal computers in 1999, analysts predict. Telephones and handheld computers that allow users to send and receive e-mail are already available. High-tech companies are now busy developing “Internet appliances”—small, inexpensive gadgets that will make using the Web as easy as a phone call. Free Internet service funded by advertisers could also become more readily available in 1999. NetZero Inc., a California-based company, unveiled the idea last fall. Customers must first fill out an online profile, allowing marketers to target their ads to certain users.

Flat-panel monitors will be the rage in ’99 as their bulky counterpart—the cathode-ray tube monitor—slowly disappears. Falling prices will boost sales of the liquid crystal display monitors, which are only a few centimetres in depth. Analysts believe that prices could fall as low as $500 this year, compared with about $1,000 now. (Prices for flat-screen TVs will fall more slowly because they are larger and more expensive to produce.) “Long term, flat panels [for computers] will actually be cheaper than CRT monitors," says K. Y. Ho, president of Thornhill, Ont.-based ATI ^ Technologies Inc., which makes graphics chips and boards ■S for the computer industry. “That’s partly because they’re smaller and much cheaper to ship.”

Merger-mania will gather momentum

n 1998, food, energy, telecomnunications and media compares broke all merger and acquiition records in their quest for narket share and global clout.

Vhat do the M&A types do for an encore in ’99?

Experts foresee another hot year, marked by more consolidation among energy, entertainment information companies. The M&A loom will also sweep hrough industries that lave been the subject 'f much talk but no ction. Tops on the list re real estate, natural reources and retail—all eyes belg on Eaton’s—as well as financial ervices firms. Canadian bankers, thwarted i their urge to merge, will look to other coundes for potential acquisitions and partners. Many Bay itreeters believe Canada Trust could be sold outright to a foreign 'ank. Whatever happens, the pace will last as long as the economy stays robust; the low dollar will :eep companies attractive to foreign buyers, not only from the United States but also Europe.

FASHION GOES UTILITARIAN

Fashion in 1999 is a blend of something old and something new, with nothing too shocking—except the continued vogue of the colour pink. A brief rundown on what people will be wearing this year:

9 Military-inspired clothes for men and women are popular in 1999, led by the hot trouser style, the khaki cargo. Among younger fashionistas, such drab, austere clothes have been dubbed “prison chic.”

9 Good news for most women, hemlines are still below the knee, and pants tend to be wide-leg.

91999 will be the year of white; pastels are also in.

9 For men, wearing a check shirt with a check tie of a different colour and pattern is very cool.

9 Women’s clothes inspired by sportswear will continue to be stylish—suit jackets with hoods and zippers, and pants and skirts with drawstring waists.

9 Stilettoes are out, while flat soles and small heels are in.

9 Continuing on a recent trend, the hottest “activewear” comes from designers—DKNY, Polo, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, to name a few—with sweatpants costing four times as much as non-designer brands.

9 Babies are the hot fashion accessory, showing up in the arms of models in recent runway shows and on magazine spreads. High-end designers now have infant lines, and one of the hottest-selling carryalls in London and New York City this winter is a diaper bag designed by Kate Spade.

A FEW BETS FOR BUSINESS THIS YEAR

What to watch for in the business world in 1999.

In the wake of failed knot-tying, the status quo won’t be an option for two of Canada’s big bank chairmen who sought to merge. They will take fat buy-out packages home by summer.

Media tycoon Conrad Black

will make another attempt in his quixotic 19-year quest to get his hands on The Globe and Mail.

This time he’ll succeed, merging it with his National Post to create the National Globe Post.

In Washington, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson

will smack Microsoft with a fine for violating antitrust statutes.

Bill Gates will plead unfairness and appeal. Then, he will roll out Windows 2000.

The people who are going to move ahead fast are those who combine “cyber experience” with “land skills’’-—meaning computer programming combined with a knack for retail sales. Computer-savvy young folk with a track record selling ties at Eaton’s will be in hot demand.

Expect an explosion in class-action lawsuits,

launched by U.S. and Canadian investors against any company whose stock drops enough to make somebody mad.

Report cards for health

Watch for the notion of report cards and performance rankings to come a lot closer to the local hospital. The hot trend in the health-care system is accountability— the need to provide the public with information about how well their regional or provincial health-care system is functioning. Health authorities in several regions across Canada have started releasing comparative data on such critical factors as administrative costs, rates of complications after surgery and levels of nursing care. So far, those studies have been mainly of use to hospital administrators seeking to improve their operations. But powerful forces within the health-care community want to give the public a better idea of how effectively Canada’s $76-billion health-care budget is being spent. With some authorities estimating that as much as 40 per cent of that money is going to inappropriate or unnecessary services, there is room for more accountability. “Canadians deserve a report card,” says Health Minister Allan Rock, “not ritual rhetoric.”

Seeking inner calm

Madonna, the material girl, has found cabalism, a medieval form of Judaic mysticism now trendy in Hollywood. Alanis Morissette took a transcendental trip to India. On Jan. 16, rapper and former drug abuser Vanilla Ice appears on MuchMusic to announce his new Christian fervour. Everywhere you look, or so it seems, pop icons are rejecting worldly pleasures. People crave the inner calm that only religion and/or philosophy can bring. In 1999, spirituality is a pragmatic affair anchored in the belief that modern issues are incomprehensible without a moral compass to navigate them. It is also a commodity, and those willing to pay for it can find guidance in a plethora of self-help books, yoga classes, retreats, mystic movies and television shows. Moral Divide, a coproduction from CBC TV and Vision TV examining current events from a spiritual perspective, debuts on Jan. 17 on Newsworld. “You can only analyze news in political and business terms for so long,” says host Anne Petrie. “People are looking for spiritual renewal.”

POLITICS OF SLEAZE

Every action produces its own reaction—in politics as in all else. Just when it looks as if American politicians are locked in a death embrace over morality (call it sexual assured destruction—or SAD), there are signs the public tide is turning. The political victims are strewn across the land—President Bill Clinton and a host of Republicans forced to own up to extracurricular carryings-on. But the Clinton scandals have already set off a backlash.

In poll after poll, voters have said they are fed up with what the President himself calls “the politics of personal destruction,” and the message seems finally to be sinking in.

The test will come this year.

The federal independent counsel law,

the statute that gave special prosecutor Kenneth Starr the power to explore every corner of Clinton’s life, comes up for review in the spring. Republicans and Democrats will almost certainly join to kill the law or drastically weaken it, a blow against the culture of endless investigation that has destroyed so many Washington careers.

More important will be the kind of candidates who emerge as front-runners in the fight for their parties’ presidential nominations for 2000. The public may well want to take a long hot shower after wallowing in Clintonesque sleaze for so long. That will benefit candidates with apparently squeaky-clean personal lives, like Vice-President Al Gore among the Democrats and Elizabeth Dole on the Republican side.

Less obviously, though, the reaction against the Clinton-Starr era could be good for less-pristine candidates such as Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Arizona Senator John McCain. Both men acknowledge dissolute episodes in their pasts—recreational sex and alcohol for Bush in the 1970s, before he married; and affairs that destroyed McCain’s first marriage after he was released from five years in a Vietnamese POW camp. Such goings-on might once have been fatal to a presidential hopeful. Now, after the revelations about Clinton’s behaviour, voters are more likely to say: so what?

Output, employment keep growing

Lost amid the hand-wringing over Canada’s slipping productivity is the good news: a lot more Canadians are working. Canada’s output of goods and services is estimated to have grown by nearly three per cent in 1998— almost entirely because employment grew dramatically in the final quarter. Full-time jobs increased by 2.7 per cent in 1998, while the number of parttime positions rose by 5.3 per cent. “Right now, I’d rather see employment over productivity growth,” says Andrew Sharpe, executive director of Ottawa’s Centre for the Study of Living Standards. “Higher employment means there are a lot more people who can go shopping and pay taxes.”

Job growth is expected to slow down in 1999, to about 1.5 per cent, Sharpe estimates. The impact of global financial upheaval on the economy will inevitably lead to more corporate mergers and subsequent plant closings, says Andrew Jackson, senior economist of the Canadian Labour Congress. But job losses in traditional industries will be minimal.

READY TO LEAVE HIS LEGACY?

Politicians worry about their place in history the way hockey players obsess about seeing their name on the Stanley Cup. Add the impulse for end-of-millennium grandeur, and 1999 offers perfect conditions for a bout of legacy building. For Jean Chrétien, this year may be his opportunity to lay down some markers to his 36 years in politics. He has made no secret of his desire to preside over the turning of the millennial clock, and the hot breath of putative Liberal successors on his neck has subsided—for now. But last year’s $2.5-billion Millennium Scholarship Fuqd was the first sign that Chrétien is thinking about how he will be remembered; something more dramatic than a modest tax cut or restored health-care funding seems in order. ' Perhaps he will turn the sod for a new National War and Peacekeeping Museum. What better way to mark the turn from the world’s most horrible century of war to a more hopeful future?

Not that the Prime Minister is about to abandon his low voltage modus operandi, which he has recently taken to calling “governing without fanfare.” There are some mini-storms ahead—the APEC inquiry will generate more heat, for example, though the controversy seems likely to stop short of the PM’s desk. But most events will continue to break his way. A Quebec referendum is almost impossible to imagine. The Liberals have some money to spend (and they will, on tax cuts and health care). Even federal-provincial relations promise no more than the usual head-butting. If a new formula for running social programs—known as the “social union” in current politico-speak— cannot be negotiated with the premiers, “it will not be the end of the world,” Chrétien told Maclean’s in a year-end interview. ‘We’ll carry on with what we’ve got now.”

From the opposition benches, Preston Manning does not have recourse to a bricks and mortar legacy. Instead, he may be remembered for a selfless political act. Unable to break out of his western base, Manning has put his leadership and even his Reform party itself up for grabs at a February convention aimed at establishing a new political alternative. It could be his last hurrah. If he fails, Tory leader Joe Clark would be the likely beneficiary, securing an unexpected chance to rewrite his own political obituary.

The year of the Red Planet

For earthlings, 1999 is the year for Mars. NASA will oversee two missions to the Red Planet, part of a continuing series of voyages. This September, the Mars Climate Orbiter is to begin studying Martian weather. Then, it will act as a communications system for the Mars Polar Lander, arriving in December after a 750-million-km, 11-month journey from Earth.

The lander will jettison two basketball-sized satellites equipped with probes. They will smash into the rocky Martian surface to a depth of up to two metres, then test the soil for water. The lander itself will come to a gentler rest 200 km away, where it, too, will search for water. It will also open a microphone to allow Earth to eavesdrop on Mars.

AS THE UNIVERSE UNFOLDS

What in the world will (or won’t) happen in 1999?

Economic and political chaos will reign as Indonesia becomes the world's hottest hot spot.

Russia's Boris Yeltsin will fade away.

So will Jean Chrétien. He will announce his retirement in December; Liberals will call a leadership convention for ^---y April, 2000.

E* Prince

mp /%J0P Charles and Br |Kf Camilla Parker ^El flffiL Bowles will

® " announce their intention to wed. The Queen will not be amused.

Lucien Bouchard will struggle to bridge a chasm in the Parti Québécois between those who want a referendum and those who think it would be the kiss of death.

North Korea’s renewed nuclear ambitions will provoke a confrontation with the United States.

Latin America—especially Brazil—will go through new financial conniptions as cheap Asian exports attack its markets.

Pressure will grow for a North American currency to

counterbalance the euro.

The Americans, however, will refuse to call it the beaver.

Newly moderate Iran and newly democratic Nigeria will rejoin the world.

Iraq won’t—and the United States and Britain will launch 11 another Desert Adventure.

In Ontario, Mike Harris’s Tory government will cut taxes this spring, then win re-election, handily, in June.