Friday, September 21, 2007

More oil stuff

So the Albertan government has finally decided to deal with the mess that Ralph Klein left them -- oil royalties were way, way too low by international standards even before $80/bbl prices came along. The report by a government panel concludes that a) royalties should be raised for all oil and gas projects, but especially the tar sands, and b) nobody should be grandfathered out of the hike.

The oil industry is reacting in it's usual calm and measured fashion:
Some Calgarians were angry, with one broker e-mailing his clients with the subject line: “Caracas on the Bow River,” comparing Alberta with Venezuela and its socialist President Hugo Chavez, who expropriated oil assets this year.

“If [the report is] enacted, investment decisions will be impacted … [the report] reads a bit like a Chavez-style manifesto,” Steve Larke, a Peters & Co. Ltd. broker, said in the e-mail.
This is the oil busines' reaction to an incredibly modest tax increase -- being called an authoritarian socialist. (Whether you think Chavez is one or not, it's clearly how it was intended.) Clearly, these people have no sense of perspective, nor any feeling of obligation to the public.

So let me respond in an equally calm and measured tone: Alberta-style conservatism is the Canadian equivalent of Saudi Wahhabism. Not particularly useful or beloved, even by the people who originated it, it's largely succeeded in political and ideological terms simply because of the vast torrent of oil money that it can draw on. It serves no higher purpose except serving it's political masters and their underlings, in this case brokers who got used to treating public property like an all-you-can-eat buffet.

So for once in my life, I'm going to say huzzah to the Conservative government of Alberta. Raise the royalties, piss off these whining toddlers who call themselves businessmen, and take one step closer to joining the political reality of the rest of Canada.

No comments: