Canada first

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Up, up, up.

That is the only direction we have seen gasoline prices go in these first few months of 2012. I am pretty sure that for those of us who drive, it is starting to not only be a pain, but also a fear. One can only guess what the summer months are going to bring us! For those who do not drive, don’t think you get off the hook. Higher fuel prices means higher retail prices to make up for the increased transport costs. So, while you might only get screwed once, for us who drive we get screwed twice.

So why do we in Canada, one of the largest oil producers in the western world, pay among the highest prices? Even the Americans are paying less than we are despite the fact that their gas is made from our oil. This is ludicrous. If only we had a national energy policy.

Oh wait, we did, And it failed.

Yet, all Canadians would benefit from greater domestic use of Canadian oil. We can all guess, however, who is being the stubborn anti-sharing kid on the block. If you guessed Alberta, you are right.

I understand that Alberta wants to make as much money from its oil for as long as it can. After all, eventually the market will either plunge or the oil will be all gone, so I am able to sympathize on that level. On a completely different sphere of thinking, though, wouldn’t it make just as much sense to spread that oil around Canada and make sure that Canadians have first right-of-refusal to what is Canadian, not Albertan, oil? Am I being too communistic with such a line of thought? Then, of course, there is this whole NAFTA issue of having to tie our Canadian oil to world prices even if we sell it to our own people. Thanks so much there, Mr. Mulroney.

So what are we to do? Well, quite honestly, we are stuck. Subsidizing our gasoline is poor practice, because eventually those subsidies would have to be shrunk or completely removed. China and Indonesia, for example, have been subsidizing their gasoline prices for years and Indonesia is at a point where the government can no longer afford to do so. China has been shrinking its subsidies as well, even though Chinese drivers still pay relatively low fuel prices in global terms. If we could utilize and refine Canadian oil without being stuck paying world prices for it, that would be a step in the right direction. At the very least we should be paying just as much as the Americans are. Our neighbours to the south are currently dishing out, on average, $1.02 per litre. Canadians, on the other hand, have to pay, on average, $1.30 per litre. Even with taxes and a little bit of leeway, I believe we are getting screwed.

I recently heard an American complain about having to pay $60 to fill up his extended Escalade. Canadians can’t even use that $60 to fill up a Corolla or Civic. Heck, $60 won’t fill up my vehicle or any of the vehicles of the guys I live with. So I say, quit whining you extended-Escalade-driving American and let Canadian oil be for Canadians, first and foremost. Everyone else, get in line at the back!

Sebastien Prost
Contributor

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