What comes first, supply or demand? The federal Conservatives and the provincial Liberals both seem to believe that supply begets demand.
Their strategy for expanding the economy has been to stimulate supply by giving money to firms mostly by way of tax cuts. Most firms have simply banked their excess funds and are not making plans for expanding till they see a demand uptick. The exception is the petroleum companies working in the Alberta oil sands. They have expanded production to the point that they have to sell their product at a discount. One might say that "that is their problem". But no. A Calgary think tank assured us recently that it is Canada's problem.
It is not that the oil companies are losing money, they would have us believe. It is Canada that is losing millions of dollars every day.
It follows that Canadians should rectify the situation presumably while the companies continue to overproduce. That reference to Canadians riding to the rescue refers especially to British Columbians. We should cease our resistance to the pipelines for the economic health of the dominion. Why should we object to pipelines crossing our territory and tankers plying our coastal waters? Aren't we behaving like a bunch of tree-hugging hippies resisting economic progress?
I believe the answer to that question is no. We already have industries well established within our borders which have been contributing to the Canadian economy for a long time and which rely on our land and waters not being subject to industrial pollution.
Should there be an accident those industries will be curtailed at least temporarily. And at what economic cost? I have heard the pipeline company's assurances that they will clean up their messes but I have seen no reference to compensation for other industries impacted by their accidents. So what if there was a serious spill into the northern rivers or into the coastal waters, and I think Enbridge has conceded that the question is not if but when, how many millions of dollars is Canada going to have to forgo because of losses to fishing and tourism to name but two industries?
I doubt we could ever answer that question because there are too many variables involved. We know how much we are losing now by selling discounted oil so I suggest we either live with that or, more sensibly, leave the oil companies to solve the problem that they created. Lay off workers? I can hear the diehard Conservatives screaming as I write this. Well whose job counts for most? The fisherman's, the cook's at the tourist resort or is the roughneck on the oil rig in someway special?