Some bloggers today have put forth some interesting arguments regarding "to carbon tax, or not to carbon tax". I'm in favor of measures to help our environment, but I think we need to rethink the whole "oil deal". We tend to approach these discussions with the mindset that the oil belongs to the oil companies, and they are "making" the gasoline and giving it to us. I think we need to take the view that much of the world (Saudis, China, Russia, etc.) take with their oil - ie - that it is OUR OIL. Big oil simply comes in and refines it for us.
Now to put that into perspective. Imagine you have a garden. A landscaping company wants to come in and "prune your trees" and "mow your lawn". Now this is very well something you can do on your own, but you concede that you "don't have the time". So, you hire the company, thinking it will be a reasonable cost, and your yard will be beautiful. You come home and find, however, that your trees are gone, your veggies have all been dug up, your lawn is now a private golf course with "brought to you by XYZ Landscapers" billboards, and the lawn jockeys are sitting in your driveway selling you your vegetables at a nice mark-up. You are upset, but deep down inside you're kind of happy not to have to do the work yourself. Besides, all the neighbors are doing it. The landscaping company also happens to be a part of a conglomerate that indicated your giving them access to your yard means their "home security division" will provide you lo-cost security.
This is basically what has occurred to us vis-a-vis OUR OIL.
That oil belongs to you and me. It surprises me how many of the general public treat the oil as something the oil company provides.
These money-grubbing leeches (yeah, I love BIG oil) cajoled successive federal and provincial governments into rights to resources on vast tracts of land to make mega-trillion dollar profits over the years. Now when times are tough, and we have an economy that is seeing inflation and stagnation, and gasoline is a key contributing factor, expect BIG oil to sit back and do nothing. Actually - correction - they will do something - they will spend countless millions advertising to ensure that people like Albertans will think those companies look out for their best interests. You'll see citizens who may not even work for big oil agreeing to the blatant raping of Canadian consumers.
Yes, BIG oil will cry and say, "but we developed your industry. We found your oil". Oh really? I suppose they also created it. When the commodity itself is worth so much, you don't need a mega-rich FOREIGN (emphasis on foreign) conglomerate coming in to "assist" us in getting it out of the ground.
It's like having a garden, but letting ridiculously highly paid lawncare pros come into your back yard, harvest it, then resell your tomatoes to you, at a nice profit (to justify paying for the employees earning 100,000-plus, plus, plus, per year).
We need to be a LOT tougher as a government, and also institute price controls in the oil sector to ensure that a vital commodity is available to the very people who own it - the Canadian people. Yanks will still come here to find some of the safest oil in the world - no matter the price. We also need to have an "export price" and a "domestic price" to give Canadians some of the benefits of the oil. Keep the taxes where they are (yes the Cons will argue agains the taxes, but the taxes create our only legacy from the oil currently - the highways, bridges, etc.). A controlled and regulated "domestic price" will be fair. Heck, it won't hurt the companies at all, considering our population is less than California's (one state), and we own less cars.
We would regulate pollution as well, and need to ensure that the oil companies pay for the damage to the environment - more importantly, ensuring the damage doesn't happen in the first place.
Regulation is a tough one. We can't expect local or provincial governments to be responsible. Yes, resources are partially provincial, BUT, it's too easy for a provincial government to see itself as "owned" by the oil cos... just take a look at some semi-arid Western provinces... Regulation has to be a federal duty. The federal government HAS to look out for the best interests of ALL Canadians - not just the ones who happen to live in an oil-rich province. Environmental protection will be huge part of the regulation. We will have to be tough on the industry that for many years has treated our beautiful landscape as a dumping ground. We need to protect our water too, as so many hundreds of thousands of liters of fresh water are pumped through each oil well daily... and we watch while rivers like the Bow run dry... The oil industry will need to right these wrongs before they come for more. They will still come, however, as paying a little more is still better than paying a lot more AND getting shot at in the Middle East.
Our nation is a vast one, and we rely heavily on fossil fuels for heating and transport across our vast distances. We need to ensure the growth of our land - while we continue to take measures to protect the environment. Real government regulation is the key.