Monday, August 22, 2005

It's A Weird Day When...

I agree with Liberals and disagree with the NDP. I've only voted Liberal once, and that was to ensure the defeat of Ernie Eves.

In the Good News category, the Ontario Liberals are planning to introduce a european-style subsidy for renewable energy, where green projects get a guaranteed selling point for long periods. This kind of subsidy has been instrumental in the success of wind power in Europe. So good for the Liberals, if they actually bring it through. I believe (though I could be wrong) this would make Ontario the first jurisdiction in North America to use this kind of policy. So go us!

In the Bad News, however, NDP leader Jack Layton is recommending we investigate the gas companies for any collusion or price-fixing. Now, I'm not so naive as to think there's no collusion, but frankly the symptom Jack's seeing - gas prices all moving at the same time - doesn't indicate the disease he thinks. Rather than foul play, the fact is gasoline is a pretty simple commodity, and it derives from a single, very dear resource - oil. Rather than a sign of mischief, this is just a sign of a very competitive market in a simple, easily produced good.

Now, if prices were extremely stable, that would be evidence of market collusion.

Anyway, it gets worse - Jack wants the feds to set a maximum price for gasoline, nation-wide. Oh boy, it's hard to believe the NDP has a single economist working for them, that idea's so bad. See, China's done the same thing, and as a result scores of cities have gasoline shortages now.

Look, the price of oil is going up - whether you believe it's driven by asian demand or oil peaking, it's heading up for the forseeable future. Therefore, the price of gasoline is also heading up. Period. Setting artificial prices won't actually help matters - if anything, it'll make things worse.

If the NDP wants to really help matters, it should propose an alternative to oil and gasoline - the alternatives are out there, and they could use a political champion.

Oh, and just so people don't think I'm really a Liberal in disguise, let me take this opportunity to say that no, Ontario does not need new Nuclear plants, contrary to Minister Duncan's assertions. If Ontario is serious about renewables and efficiency, we can quickly eliminate the "need" for new nuclear plants. I don't, however, think that we should shut down the nuclear plants before the end of their lifetimes, however. Rather, shutting down our coal plants should be the priority.

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