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A hundred years ago, a European visitor to the US remarked that there was nothing more remarkable than the complete and utter indifference of the rich towards the poor.

That was the hallmark of the Guilded Age, and I suspect that we will experience that age again because America is a nation of individuals and not "communities", and no matter how many times the political talking heads trumpet the word "community", it will not conjure up a real one.

There are few real communities in America, and these will all be stomped on by the government, which is run by individuals.

Jim Smith

Elaine, you say as Canada is an oil exporter, we Canadians can consume all the oil we wish! I WISH that were so! Unfortunately, because of NAFTA and other tie-ins, we produce oil in the West and the bulk is locked in to being exported to the U.S.A.

The East of Canada must import its oil from overseas and since we have NO national energy plan, will be hung up high and dry when the next oil crunch occurs. Seemingly, there is no short or intermediate term remedy and no signs of a long term remedy, which would be at massive cost.

What stupid childishness and recklessness! You are absolutely correct: "The Market" and the forces that influence the so-called free market, couldn't care less about the common good, only for the (not so Almighty) dollar. It is to cry.

Elaine Meinel Supkis

Yes, the people of Canada can't guzzle gas as merrily as we in the US but Canada is a net exporter and our #1 source for oil. And yes, we are guzzling it for the Canadians.


Jim Smith please explain how eastern Canada "must" import it's energy needs from the Saudi's and Venezuela. The fact of the matter is that Eastern Canada is going to be hoisted by their own petard for their shortsighted historical efforts to prevent political and economic power shifting to Western Canada by turning their backs on energy development.

Since the days of the Turner Valley oil discoveries the Eastern Canadian establishment has declined to participate in Western Canadian development as required under the Canadian constitution and the BNA act. When the eastern power brokers found that they were stymied in controlling Western Canadian resources they not only declined to participate through financing but actively blocked development initiatives and marketing channels.

It was the Eastern Canadian establishment who decided they would be better off associating with foreign suppliers than hand over crucial energy reliance to “A bunch of western rednecks”.

This and only this is why the Americans stepped into the Western Canadian Energy scene with such success. Unless the Eastern establishment could own and control a resource they’d not only not participate they’d act as an impediment, even to the point of continued purchasing of crude from gulf states after the 70’s oil embargo.

Here’s a little Western Alienation for you. Eastern Canada is going to get exactly what they deserve. To think that now with oil at $130 were talking about Western Canada as a strategic Canadian energy resource. We’ll it surely wasn’t good enough for Bay Street 1910 – 1947 when they told Turner Valley entrepreneurs to go shit in their hats.

Further it still wasn’t good enough for Bay Street after Leduc #1 in1947 whereby the American participation into Western Canadian energy play was morphed into full integration. After Albertans determined they’d rather work alongside the Americans than have to continue to bow, scrape and take one in the rear entry from Bay Street and the old money families in Central Canada, why, low and behold Central Canada didn’t really need Western oil anyway they’d buy it from the Saudi’s.

From out here in the land of the monster Quad Cab 4X4 having to listen to neo-bullshit about sovereignty of “Canadian” energy just sheds more light into why Canada barely deserves to be a country after endless divisive federal rule. Unrelenting myopic hyper-concern over every minuscule Ontario and Quebec issue and economic downturn painted as a national catastrophe. Ugh, not many tears out here.

NAFTA… NAFTA, well Mr. Smith you may well want to ask yourself why Canadians negotiators would be so astoundingly stupid as to engage in a contract where they would be unable to reduce the percentage of energy production mandated for sale to the United States. Really, where’s the benefit here? Surprise surprise, we’re back to Bay Street. It wasn’t guaranteed markets for Canadian resources, the Americans would always take resources if the price was right, with global markets we couldn’t do anything about pricing anyway. The real benefit was Bay Street got unfettered access to set up shop in the New York financial district, loan to American hotshots (OMG even Texans) and play leveraged buyout and derivative games with the big swinging dicks. Something they’ve been salivating over since the beginning of Canada. All they had to do was hand over energy security to the Americans at the detriment of the entire Canadian nation, which, lets face it, they weren’t really interested in until recently when energy plays by other Alpha’s just couldn’t be ignored any more.

So lets all wrap ourselves in the flag, cry crocodile tears, ignore the machinations of Bay Street and poke the Alberta Redneck in the eye! How very Canadian.


Oh, Check out the soothing serene wind turbine... :)


Canuck, you pretty much took the words out of my mouth, truer gospel has not been spoken. As the price of energy continues up it will get tougher and tougher for the Goldman Sachs thug running the BOC to keep the dollar from appreciating vis a vis the US dollar. As Ontario manufacturing finally throws in the towel due to this currency re-evaluation it will simply follow the rest of Joel Garreau's Foundry into destitution. Call it Michigan North, with a financial enclave carving out Bay Street and a political enclave consuming Ottawa. Their future is very much the same as Detroit, Pittsburgh, or Buffalo-not very bright.

I suppose I could give a shit but it's tough to believe in a country where you could step twelve inches over the Manitoba-Ontario and you are forced by prison term to sell your wheat to a single solitary marketing board. Pretty obvious what that is about, eh!

My family settled in Alberta decades before it was a province. I grew up with values and ideas more in line with my brethren to our immediate south than the smug bastards out east. I think that point is illustrated in finer detail when Ol' Eon performs at the Black Diamond Hotel and the trucks out in the parking lot all have licence plates from the Empty Quarter. Some nations don't got borders.

Elaine Meinel Supkis

Thanks for the Canadian perspectives. The main thing here is the US is the world's #1 consumer of EVERYTHING. Just everything! And this is totally hopelessly unsustainable and is bad for the US itself.

And we have drawn both Canada and Mexico into this trap as BOTH feed our outsized appetite for more and more of everything.

Jim Smith

Canuck & Thirsty: Such bitterness! It can't be healthy.

Not only does the Central/Eastern Canadian person-in-the street get perenially shafted by the Bay Street Boys and the Ottawa leeches, but also damned and condemned by (some) fat cat Albertans for existing! Many wonderful Albertans I have met are somewhat more broad-minded and the milk of human kindness has not curdled in their throats.

WE could have voted differently, of course,but what are the choices? I will be surprised if in the long run the oil money trickles down to benefit ALL Albertans.

By the way, I'm not an apologist for the establishment, but you guys sound like you've swallowed the works, hook, line and sinker!

Elaine Meinel Supkis

Dear readers in Canada: I see these debates here and am a little puzzled. Can you all give me some good links that are by Canadians, talking about these things here?


A primer on western alienation.


Well smith I agree, bitterness indeed. I’m not alone, I’m glad for that. It lets me know that people are still aware of how regions have been pitted against each other in Canada in service of the primacy of Ontario and Quebec. In person you and I would likely get along quite fine I can be as pleasant as you please. You will note that I challenged you on issues and perceptions and reserved venom for
Bay Street, Central (Eastern) Power Elite and by proxy the Politicians to whom the Power Elite give their marching orders. You on the other hand offer disparaging anecdotes towards my character, good for you. I’m sure you’re not curdled at all, such a comfort.

I hold no countenance with the idea that the “man on the street” in Eastern Canada is disassociated from unfair economic and regulation burdens impressed upon the rest of the country and is also at harm from Bay Street power brokers. Frankly regulations and credit restrictions were and are imposed to keep that historical power structure in place and there’s never been a sigh of protest from the Central Canadian Hoi Polloi in favor of power sharing or fraternity of purpose with other regions, except of course cutting special deals with Quebec which is essential to “triangulate” the rest of the country. The benefit continues, you are however becoming aware that it is reducing in it’s quality and quantity, hence we have the reports of hardship and calls for the end of transfer payments.

Not only Bitterness, but we’re guarded too. As with Canadian Wheat board, the Crow Rate and the National Energy Program Federalists in service of Central Canadian primacy will always utilize regulations to control resources they have no right to under the constitution, in particular international trade controls presents an iron lock for resource control, but it’s the big gun and makes a large noise when it goes off.

We’ve got a perfect example coming down the pipe with the Montreal Carbon Exchange Bourse. Here we have an economic redistribution scheme which will invariably have the greatest negative affect on Alberta. It’s not the actual resources so it’s a fair play under the constitution. Will it be international, oh my yes, therefore Federal Jurisdiction. Will it be ascended by Parliament? Lets see, resource control (check), economic redistribution (check), international leverage on the back of a provincial resource (check), mollifies and ingratiates Quebec to Ontario power structure at the expense of another region (check). Sounds like a 100% chance of getting Ottawa backing. Will the Ontario man in the street rise up in defense of Alberta or will he comfort himself once again that it’s for the good of the country/environment and it’s a good thing because Alberta’s getting to big for it’s britches again?

I travel the country a lot and I’m hearing the same things again from your eastern man in the street, namely nationalization. I’ll say the same thing as I did during the NEP, fine, nationalize, but nationalize everything then. Start with Quebec hydro, Ontario steel production, Coastal fisheries, all the far flung mines and mineral production. Go for it, share the misery! That’s not how it happens though the west is rich in resources and easily out-maneuvered with Ontario and Quebec block voting, throw a few crumbs to the Atlantic provinces and you can impose damn near anything on the west. I’m sure your Eastern Canadian man in the street will assuage himself in the manner he’s accustomed to since, say, the Riel rebellion.

If it’s all the same I’ll continue to stand in defense of all the people who struggled to make Western Canada what it is despite having to get in bed with multinationals in order to provide a viable economic structure. It wasn’t our first choice, not at all. Offers of solidarity and kinship from other regions of Canada will always be tempered against the response Premier William Aberhart received from the Eastern Canadian Banking establishment when requesting interest relief to alleviate starving in Alberta during the dirty thirties, “We will have our interest”

If we’re swallowing anything its Canadian history which richly illustrates power centralization perpetuated through divisive political machinations, this at the expense of some regions to the benefit of others. On the whole this has meant that Canada is much, much less of a country than it could have been, or will be, since it continues.

Your right, my attitude on these matter probably isn’t good for me, thanks for caring.


The refusal of eastern banks to finance Alberta through the Great Depression would be par for the course. When William Aberhart died, Earnest Manning didn't even bother any more with Bay Street or Ottawa, he took his request for financing to New York and got credit from a consortium of banks led by Chase Manhattan. They were more than eager to lend the money, and this was in 1943, four years before Leduc #1.

A guy could write a book about this but why bother. Unless it's knee deep in old loyalist agitprop the majority of Eastern Canadians just wouldn't be interested.


Canuck, if it is any consolation, in Australia we have the identical problems, except that ours is North-South.

Jim Smith

Well, "Canuck" (odd choice of a nom de plume for such a belligerent defender of provincial rights) I am for unity, not division and still hope Canada as a whole can find a way to pull together sufficiently to realize some of its awsome potential for the benefit of all humankind as well as its citizens.

I am not in a position to debate/argue most of the points you raise and I doubt if anyone can dent your firm convictions. Perhaps instead of striking out only at Central/Eastern Canadians en masse, you should start with the likes of the many supporters of the National Wheat Board in the West, such as National Farmers Union members and many other Western Farmers with credentials to speak for the West as good as yours.

The long and short of it is that by the evidence of your pronouncements in this forum you ARE bitter, not amenable as far as I can see to any form of reason or co-operation and will just have to do your thing -- work to join the failing U.S.A.? --set up the independent State of Alberta?

Go to it -- it's all yours, including your devasted and blasted North country after the International Oil Cartel has had their way with it, polluting all the water, wasting what will be precious Natural Gas. Heaven forbid that any outsider would dare lift a finger to interfere with the BIG ENRICHING WASTE!

Jim Smith

Elaine, I apologize for rising to the bait presented and getting away from the main thrust of your blog. Like I marvel at the antipathy of the Clinton and Obama camps to each other within what is supposed to be one party, I am also disturbed that "my" country is seemingly so vehemently split. Sadly to me, the world seems to be splitting apart much more than coming together. I pray that I am wrong and that my perception is faulty. We MUST find common ground, or Die.


One minute you're complaining about energy security the next about enviromental devastation wrought by the big multi-nationals in their attempt to placate a North American concern. I guess whatever tactic works to keep those uppity westerners in their place.

As for the Canadian Wheatboard the majority of farmers out here want it gone. The fact that it is a crime punishable by jail term in only three provinces in confederation to sell grain to anybody but the wheatboard is a farce. All this talk of unity and egalitarianism pretty much falls short when held up to these bright shining examples.

As this is an economics board we won't get into the burning desire of westerners for a Triple-E Senate, the absolute senselessness of Bill C-68, and an Equalization Payments system right out of Stalinist Russia.


Smith like many westerners we vacillate between being proud Canadians and raving separatists on issue. A fine example is NAFTA, we’re likely in full accord. Would I rather see energy directed to Eastern Canada providing national energy security over heading south? Absolutely. Centrist all or nothing policies causing defensive regional postures have set the stage for some very difficult times for all Canadians, understanding the nature of these impediments is essential to alleviating their negative effects. Your wish for a more united Canada is better served by acknowledging legitimate grievances instead of arguing against complicity. Consider giving some comfort in the mind of Westerners and the Rest Of Canada that they won’t be perpetuated.

Canuck isn’t odd at all, this is an international forum. In fact I’ve already been accused of being a hyper-nationalist.

Jim Smith

Thirsty: Well, you've got your boy running things in Ottawa. If that's not good enough I suggest you emigrate to Texas. When the oil runs out, Alberta will be ruined. Or is the "man-in-the-street" supposed to straighten out the mess the Big Boys make? Sounds to me like it should be your way or the HighwaY.

Jim Smith

To: Canuck -- OK OK OK -- I somehow did not see your post before my latest. Your latest leaves me some breathing room. I fully retract my suggestion to emigrate. Canada needs MORE people, not less, and intelligent ones, even if strong willed, are especially needed (IMHO).

I really think we could develop some common ground given the opportunity and do appreciate the painful roots of many of the divisive issues in our Country.

Just the same, maybe I have been misled, but I understood there is plenty of support for the Wheat Board amongst Western farmers but if there truly is none, it should be abolished (Democracy). But if the NFU is correct, this is NOT an east/west issue.

Elaine Meinel Supkis

The Wheatboard is a hang over from the Great Depression. It is designed to keep prices UP, not down, oddly enough.

I used to belong to a sheep board, namely, a government cooperative. It fell apart when we signed free trade treaties. My sheep went from over $300 a head to under $60 a head and I sold the entire flock. I really miss them.


Guys, relax.

You're arguing issues of a previous decade and a previous century. The universe continues to unfold and some get left behind. More important to live in the day.

The issue here is the unwinding of the global "system" and in essence, the Decline and Fall of the American Empire. Everything you've known and believed all of your life is probably no longer valid.

The challenge is "what comes next" and who decides.

We do, collectively. First we get rid of NAFTA, then we take New York, then we take Berlin.


Yes Allen old issues old animosities but they will play out in their traditional patterns when the country falls under duress. Say under continued peak oil stress or the shutting down of the straights of Hormuz.

The Montreal Carbon Bourse is not a historical footnote, it’s a current risk to the Alberta and Western Canadian economy, as is Kyoto. These historical precepts are not irrelevant they have been used in the manner they have because that’s what the law allows under the constitution. The Carbon Bourse shows all the characteristics of a “traditional” resource grab. For people concerned about the welfare of the not just Alberta or Western Canada but the whole country, we have to watch these socio-economic moves like a hawk and stand to defend our interests as we have had to in the past.

Take a look at any of the recent Canadian economy reports from BOC, BMO, CIBC, RBC. They all report that Western Canada is currently the economic driver of the country. Putting the economic momentum at risk with something like a Carbon Bourse or onerous GHG emissions will affect the entire country.

The main problem for Canadian energy security under current economic conditions is that Canadian Financial Institutions are unwilling to get into play within the Western energy economy. Therefore they’re going to have damn little to say about where the energy flows if and when energy is restricted by foreign suppliers. BP, Total, Husky, Shell, Husky and Exxon through Imperial oil are all outmaneuvering energy security potential for Canada simply because Canadian investment principals couldn’t be bothered. They won’t blame themselves for not participating when things get bad, they’ll demand the federal gov’t fix the problem through a nationalization initiative

A lot of this has to do with these old, not so dormant animosities.

Jim Smith

Allen: I find your post right on the money and will be guided by it if I post in the future to this blog.

I thought someone else might find something positive to say about Kyoto and the Montreal Carbon Exchange, both attempts to do something constructive about a problem with the potential to destroy humanity, but no dice so far.

Perhaps there is no point in arguing with untrammeled greed. "Forgive them, for they know not what they do".

Elaine Meinel Supkis

I just saw a piece where a Funny Money™ pirate is talking giddy about how the CARBON MARKET WILL BE WORTH TRILLIONS!

It has become, alas, the tail of the Derivatives Beast: infinite in size, fake money as the basis, selling absolutely nothing except POLLUTION. Which is perfect: this is an Outer Darkness thing attached to death.


Here in New Zealand it is the Queen's Birthday. Maybe the price of a barrel of oil is a birthday present for her BP. ;-)

I love to listen to inane cocktail party chatter from ex-pats here who think the price of oil is going up because of China's demand. If they only knew that....


“Today, Index Speculators are pouring billions of dollars into the commodities futures
markets, speculating that commodity prices will increase. ...In the popular press the explanation given most often for rising oil prices is the increased demand for oil from China. According to the DOE, annual Chinese demand for petroleum has increased over the last five years from 1.88 billion barrels to 2.8 billion barrels, an increase of 920 million barrels.8 Over the same five-year period, Index Speculatorsʼ demand for petroleum futures has increased by 848 million barrels.


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