Once again, we’re witnessing a sharp increase in the price of gasoline and diesel fuel, plus everything related to those commodities. To give you an idea of the implications of these price increases on the ordinary person, quite apart from the cost of driving to work, let me give you an example of something from my own life.
Until recently, every Sunday morning, my partner and I would go to K-W Books in Kitchener to pick up our copies of Saturday’s Guardian, Le Devoir, and La Presse. From there, depending on how we felt, we would go to Slices, a family restaurant just steps away from K-W Books where we would have breakfast and begin to read the papers. But one Sunday morning, recently, we were informed that our papers had not arrived and that there was a very good chance they would no longer arrive on Sunday morning. Instead, they would arrive on Monday morning. We were left standing there, wondering what we were going to read at breakfast without our papers. I had, long ago, stopped buying the Globe & Mail and the Toronto Star and I only subscribed to Kitchener-Waterloo’s Regional Record for a limited period because I felt sorry for the poor salesperson who had approached me on the street, imploring me to subscribe. But that subscription and expired a while ago. The idea of eating our ritual Sunday breakfast without something decent to read was very depressing. We really had no longer a reason for going to our friendly restaurant as it was the tail end of our ritual of getting the papers and eating breakfast. (Who said that religion is dead?).
It seems that one of the reasons why our newspapers were no longer delivered to K-W Books on Sunday was the cost of fuel to transport such a limited cargo. In other words, the continuing and unjustifiable cost of gasoline and diesel fuel is beginning to have an effect on everyone. Even the small family restaurant is in danger of losing business because we have nothing decent to read, apart from various kinds of books. Of course the cost of operating the restaurant has gone up too due to the increased cost of transporting supplies to keep the restaurant going.
While there is no shortage of the fuels necessary for transportation and power generation in Canada, there are many good reasons why we should avoid doing as we have in the past. Energy-wasteful modes of transportation, including automobiles, and low fuel prices were the norm but global warming and diminishing non-renewable resources require that we re-think what we have been doing and come up with something better.
Some people think it is a good things that fuel prices are high as they discourage modes of transportation as in the past. The solution to environmental degradation and the waste of precious resources is to develop better, faster, cheaper and more widespread modes of mass transportation and to educate people into using them and at a price that most people can afford. It is not enough to leave all this to the “markets” (read speculators), however. Government planning at all levels should be brought to bear to make this work.
Oil company executives, in the name of “markets” choose to sell our birthright and that of future generations to other countries from which we buy finished manufactured products from factories that used to be in Canada and which employed thousands of Canadian workers. Of course the corporate leaders, supported by some politicians, believe that Canadians are too passive to challenge this appropriation of public resources. But they are wrong! Canadian history has enough examples of brave citizens physically resisting being robbed or otherwise being made to support governmental policies that they believe to be bad for Canada, for themselves and for other people.
Prime Minister Harper, speaking in Columbia with the leaders of the U.S. and Central and South American countries (except Cuba), announced that Canada is open for business, inviting in foreign capital to Canada, to develop our resources for their benefit.
First Nations and Environmental Groups are on the right track in opposing the Northern Gateway Pipeline from near Edmonton in Alberta to Kitimat in British Columbia for all the above reasons. No matter how many hearings are held, our present Federal Government appears already to have made up its mind that the pipeline will go ahead, democratic opposition notwithstanding.