Pumps that pinch
We have gone from being held hostage by OPEC to being held hostage by private companies that own refineries, and speculators who care nothing about the rising price of basics such as food when they bet on energy outcomes (Speculators Fuel High Gasoline Prices – Report on Business, April 5).
How did we get here? When does a government finally say enough is enough?
Trevor Amon, Victoria
Imagine this: Cheap Canadian oil exports are fuelling high North American gas prices.
Because of the glut of bitumen and other Canadian oil exports in its heartland, the U.S. economy is enjoying lower energy prices than other oil-importing economies. Counterintuitively, this is contributing to the surge in gas prices. Since domestic oil is now $20 cheaper than the lower-quality overseas oil that accounts for about half of U.S. supply, many older refineries on the U.S. East Coast have shut down rather than buy oil at overseas prices. The result? Lower refining capacity which, combined with annual refinery turnarounds, has led to a dramatic drawdown in gasoline stocks and – presto! – higher pump prices.
Behind this debacle is a continental pipeline system that does not reflect the realities of contemporary oil supply. That system is roiling global oil markets. Perhaps when consumers realize that dysfunctional pipeline systems affect their bank accounts, there will be greater resolve to sort out these problems. In the meantime, U.S. refiners are laughing all the way to the bank. They, after all, are buying North American oil cheap largely because of Canadian exports and selling gasoline dear. The crack spread is a wonder to behold.
Peter McKenzie-Brown, Calgary
What I find really shocking about the government’s apparent initial willingness to throw good money ($10-billion) after bad ($15-billion) on the F-35 file is the Conservatives’ wastefulness (Ottawa Hits ‘Reset Button’ On Plan To Buy 65 Fighter Jets – April 5). Consider how many gazebos could be built, how many prisons the government could construct or how many helicopter rides our Defence Minister could take with $10-billion.
I’m so upset with this profligacy that I’m tempted to ask that Poutine fellow to arrange a robo-call to Conservative MPs, misdirecting them to a shopping mall prior to the next confidence vote in the House.
Geoff Read, London, Ont.
The real issue with the F-35 purchase is the lack of civilian oversight in managing the public purse. The Minister of Defence, followed closely by the Minister of Public Works, are both accountable because they did not take DND to task for circumventing a competitive bidding process.
David Carment, editor, Canadian Foreign Policy Journal
The Auditor-General has given the Tories a way out of having to buy this flying (?) lemon, with the blame attaching to unnamed bureaucrats. The Conservatives take a bit of static in Parliament, then can go on to buy something useful. I think they may not be unhappy at how things turned out.
Barry Millman, Ottawa
Re What The Avro Arrow Should Have Taught Ottawa About The F-35 (online, April 5): Had John Diefenbaker not shortsightedly scrapped the Arrow and the entire industrial base that built it, we would now be selling advanced aircraft to the U.S. and not the other way around – aircraft that would actually fly.
Kent Peacock, Lethbridge
Caution: old age
The Canadian Medical Association says drivers over 65 should have graduated licences that could restrict driving at night or on high-speed roads (New System For Senior Drivers Proposed – April 5).
The Harper government says if you don’t have a generous RRSP (what were you thinking?), you’ll have to work till you’re 67. I hope there won’t be any 66-year-olds who need to work shifts, start early, stay past 4 p.m. in the winter or travel on a highway to get to work.
Cathy Pike, Toronto
If senior drivers are such a menace, why do insurance companies charge higher rates for younger drivers? As a regular Highway 401 user, it’s not the older drivers I see who are endangering themselves and others by tailgating, speeding, talking on cellphones and making heart-stoppingly dangerous lane changes. It’s young men.
D.J. Baptist, Toronto
Antibiotics and climate
The analogy of the emergence of antibiotic resistance to climate change is right on (How To Say No To Too Much Prescription – editorial, April 5). Resistance, like climate change, is a problem that has accumulated over time, for multiple reasons, is increasing at a rapid pace, is becoming self-sustaining and has the potential to be catastrophic.
Stabilizing it will require numerous actions, no one of which will be decisive but the cumulative effect of which will be. This is like “Socolow’s 15 wedges” approach to stabilizing climate change. The challenge for Canada, and even more so globally, is to identify the “15 wedges” and to act on them now.
John F. Prescott, professor, Department of Pathobiology, University of Guelph
Casino’s a gamble
How sad, really, that Ontario’s Finance Minister, Dwight Duncan would deliver a take-it-or-leave-it message to Toronto about building a waterfront casino (Toronto Could Lose Casino ‘Golden Mile,’ Duncan Warns – April 5). As seductive as the inevitable millions in profits that would result, these profits would flow from the equally inevitable losses of gamblers, many with severe addictions.
The larger issue, of course, is why a casino is the very best idea the province (and city) can come up with. Do we not have enough creative minds in our so-called “world class” city to develop a sustainable and flourishing waterfront that attracts locals and visitors and spins off jobs and revenue? Why gamble on a lousy casino?
Marty Cutler, Toronto
I have been appalled by many things that the Harper government, as the Conservatives like to be known, has done, but I will never, ever forgive them when I hear the first commercial advertisement on CBC Radio (CBC Radio 2 Will Apply To CRTC To Run Ads – April 5). As an old crone and a long-time CBC listener, I will be scouring my witch books for appropriate curses!
Elizabeth Dornbush, Sudbury, Ont.
Commercials on CBC Radio Two? The horror! Well, why not? I can think of few commercials as annoying and tedious as the relentless self-promotions currently inflicted on us. Commercials could be more entertaining than the oft-repeated anecdotes and gee-whiz enthusiasms that are the hallmark of Radio 2’s classical music hosts. What’s more likely to happen, of course, is the promos will stay, the anecdotes will stay and there will be even less music and informed commentary than there is now.
Jerry Ezekiel, Victoria
Vindictive Tories get their way, But had they asked me, I would say: Reinstate full GST, Then do the same for CBC.
John Greenhouse, Tobermory, Ont.