In the long list of market unknowns, Donald J. Trump and the US Presidential race is the unknown. The result of the election could have massive implications on the markets, even if we are unsure about what they are. When looking to commodities, a weaker US dollar will drive prices higher, but this may be offset by concerns over a slowing economy.
It sometimes sounds as though pipeline proponents are the true environmentalists among us. Commentary in favour of the pipelines has followed suit with generous explanations of our current needs and the realities of energy consumption. They ask: are opponents of the pipelines in denial about our current reliance on fossil fuels? And if these bleeding hearts do admit that we do need fossil fuels to power our country, are they comfortable importing Saudi oil forever? I believe that such questions willfully miss the point.
How is it that the national debate is not about bitumen and the future markets for that commodity? Instead, people drone on about pipelines, an abstraction of the petroleum production. The mantra has become: "If we build them, money will come." But will it? Is the world market price for bitumen so attractive that success is assured if we can only get it to tide-water? The answer is simple: No.
On April 17 we Italians will vote on a referendum which aims to hinder oil drilling near our coasts. The Italian government instead forces new domestic drilling for reducing oil imports. Simply opposing oil rigs before our door is short-sighted if we keep on burning more and more oil, provided that it comes from distant countries.
No government should ever be allowed to take money out of the EI fund, and it may be time to consider entrenching that principle in law. Legislation that guarantees that the money workers pay into EI will be there for them when they need it would give those workers and their communities a great deal of comfort. Our new government has made significant steps in ensuring that EI meets the needs of workers and their communities. Guaranteeing the money will be there for them when they need it would be the next logical step.
There is a catechism of the fossil fuel industry, with oft-repeated claims that seem by repetition to escape examination. Peter MacKay's recent opinion piece on pipelines was a veritable greatest hits compilation of such claims. He writes that "pipelines are by far the safest means of transporting oil." The first muddying of facts is the notion that we are talking about shipping oil. All the current pipeline proposals, including Energy East, are primarily about shipping unprocessed bitumen. Bitumen is in a pre-crude state and can only be casually referenced as "oil" if one accepted the idea that grain should be referred to as "croissants" when discussing markets.
The Canadian economy is "technically" in a recession, as 2015 ended with two consecutive quarters of contracting GDP. Whether or not you personally agree with classifying the current economic situation as such, we are going through tough times. However, the recession does not seem to be bothering most Canadian economists -- or, for that matter, most Canadians.
The role of the Canadian government in both the short and long term should be to embrace and foster the growth of all parts of our diverse economy. The government should certainly not champion some sectors and demoralize others. Sadly, we have already started to see that approach by the Trudeau government.
I am really confused by my government right now, because when it comes to climate action, it feels like I have two different governments. One government is in Paris, and their words on climate sound like the kind of ambition we need. The other one is in Ottawa, and its actions are looking more and more like the Harper government's on climate change.