Well, it’s official. The price of oil is going down south fast, even though oil itself isn’t. Last night, President Obama used his State of the Union address to specifically speak out against the Keystone XL Pipeline saying:
“I don’t want stupid Canadian oil. I don’t like Stephen Harper. He’s worse than a Republican”.
(I’m paraphrasing slightly)
Then today, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz surprised everyone, including, judging by the expression on his face, himself, when he dropped the overnight lending rate to less than 1% which caused the Canadian dollar to dip down almost as low as oil prices.
So now it costs almost nothing to trade a currency that is worth almost nothing.
Like all non-economists (as well as all professional economists) I don’t really know what all this means for the future of Canada. On the one hand, cheap gas and cheap money seem to be a good thing. Now more Canadians can drive down to the states where all the “good” Target stores are and those trying to enter the housing market may be encouraged by lower mortgage rates to buy bigger, more expensive houses! After all, who cares how many hundreds of thousands of dollars you owe? Those are Canadian dollars.
As for Albertans, well, it might be tough to get sympathy from other Canadian provinces after their run of what seems like forever being flush with cash and confidence. It’s been a great run, but maybe it IS time they paid provincial sales tax like the rest of us? (I could be arrested in Alberta just for saying this) On the bright side though, Newfoundland workers’ commute time will decrease dramatically.
On the other hand, the Canadian economy is directly linked to oil and energy prices. Too directly. I believe it’s a condition called “Dutch Elm disease” (again, I’m not a professional economist). So the continuing freefall in oil prices is ultimately bad for all of us. Less money for the oil companies means less jobs. Less jobs mean consumers spend less money. Consumers spending less money means more of us may end up having to shop at Walmart. More of us shopping at Walmart= the end of civilization.
So the way I see it (and I may WELL be alone here) we need to collectively do 1 of 3 things:
- Canadians need to find ways to consumer more of our own oil per capita.
This is pretty self-explanatory. Buy bigger vehicles. Drive further distances. Keep your thermostat at a toasty 33 degrees Celsius in the winter and a hypothermic minus 33 degrees Celsius in the summer. But then environmentalists (PM Harper calls them “radicals”) would get angry. Which most people seem not to care about. But irrefutable scientific evidence tells us this would, in fact, lead to an accelerated end of the world. In which case, our economic status is redundant (our PM doesn’t recognize this fact. True story) We could also think outside the furnace here and find new, innovative recreational uses for oil. For instance, you like water slides? You’d LOVE oil slides. Oil is more slippery than water. And black oil would make plus-sized pale water-sliders look slimmer!
- FIND NEW MARKETS FOR OUR OIL.
President Obama is NOT going to OK the Keystone XL Pipeline (admitting it is the first step towards waking the hell up Keystone proponents) China may be up for more of our oil, but it feels like Saudi Arabia is going to undercut us there and beat us to the punch. Plus, Chinese diplomats seem to be immune to PM Harper’s hypnotic piano serenades. In fact, everywhere on earth seems to have more than enough oil right now. So what do we do? We go OUT of Earth! Celebrity “space tourists” have already signed up to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars just for a glimpse of outer space. Why wouldn’t they pay more to expand their carbon footprint by each bringing their own barrel of oil on the trip! Money isn’t an object to these morons (sorry “trend setters”). So let’s send them to space with their individually monogrammed barrels of oil and then build a pipeline to outer space (working title “Keystone OS”) to service their colony. They need to pay in advance of course. And they can never come back to earth…as I write this it makes sense not only as an economic solution for Canada, but an improvement in Earth’s overall I.Q.
- We need to find something other than oil to export in that goddamn pipeline we keep talking about
We’ve been told ad nauseum (literally so much it is sickening) that the parts for an oil pipeline and the people to put those parts together are ready to go and simply awaiting approval from President Obama. But the President isn’t ready to let Canadian oil flow through his country, based, to a large extent on environmental issues. Fine. Let’s find something more environmentally friendly than oil to ship to our southern neighbours. Like…
* Canadian Maple Syrup: Americans consume more pancakes than all other countries combined (I’m just guessing here. But why else would all the INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF PANCAKES locations be there?) so it couldn’t be a better match unless we pipelined in turkey for their Thanksgiving. (note to self: make the maple syrup pipeline available for turkey gravy every Thanksgiving) Plus, if there were a rupture in the pipeline it would be the most delicious spill in environmental disaster history.
- Alberta Beef (you think “free range” chicken is delicious? Try “free falling” cows)
- Saskatchewan Potash: it’s fertilizer for God sakes! If it spills, YOU’RE WELCOME
- Quebec strippers: when you think about it, a pipeline is just a really long pole.