The cost of energy in Canada—and Ontario in particular—is shooting through the roof. This despite Canada being a “have” country when it comes to energy sources. Canada has rivers in Quebec and Labrador producing enough surplus hydro-energy to export to the United States. Canada is ranked tenth in the world in total proven coal reserves. Canada is the world’s largest producer of natural uranium and the owner of huge surpluses beyond national needs of both natural gas and oil. Canada is the largest supplier of energy exports to the world’s biggest economy, the United States.
Yet our governments have mostly stood on the sidelines and allowed our province and country to slip from a situation whereby energy supply and cost gave us a competitive advantage on the world stage to being also-rans as we follow along paying so-called world prices.
We are told we must pay the world price for domestic consumption of domestic fossil fuels, but I ask: why so? Well, we are told, it’s the “market” price, and every good conservative knows, a “market” economy is the way to go. But what does a price set by some foreign cartel—made up primarily of petty Arab, African and South American kingdoms and dictatorships—have to do with a free (supply and demand) market? Why not, therefore, set our own prices for oil and, by extension, other energy we produce and consume here in Canada?
The entire concept of a “world price” is a sham, because it’s set, for the main part, by a cartel and then boosted by speculators and profiteers—real supply and demand is merely an afterthought. We must, therefore, find creative ways to uncouple ourselves from this mechanism that serves mainly to enrich a privileged few companies and their shareholders at the expense of the many. And, while I’m at it, too often those same privileged few seem frequently to be the beneficiaries of corporate welfare—we should cut them off immediately.
We have become slaves to the needs of everyone but ordinary Canadians. We seem prepared to beggar ourselves so that some can feel good about fruitless battles against the world’s natural inclination to become warmer. When, in reality, Canada will almost certainly be a net beneficiary of a warmer planet. Go figure.
At some point, ordinary Canadians have got to receive some direct financial benefits from living in an energy rich country in an energy hungry world. Governments need to recognize this and cut/eliminate the taxes they collect from energy consumption. They need also to eliminate subsidies and other forms of incentives to profitable energy companies, especially those who produce even more expensive energy products than we already have, as many producers of “green” energy do.
Here in Ontario, hydro rates have increased by a total of 84 per cent generally, and an unconscionable 150 per cent for households unfortunate enough to have activated smart meters. As if this isn’t bad enough, Premier Dalton McGuinty admitted in last year’s Fall Economic Update that hydro bills will rise by an additional 46 per cent by 2015.
But, readers, there is a silver lining of sorts. Come October 6, we will get the opportunity to stop some of the bleeding: we can rid ourselves of the Dalton McGuinty government with its expensive energy experiments and its Alice-in-Wonderland Green Energy Act.
In the news today, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party leader Tim Hudak announced that, if elected, his PC government would remove consumption taxes (HST) from home hydro and heating bills, and eliminate the so-called debt retirement charge from home hydro bills—the McGuinty government shamelessly extended the debt charge to 2018, even though the full amount was collected as of 2010.
Hudak’s promise may not be a complete solution, but at least it’s a move in the right direction.