Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jeffrey Simpson rightly notes that Alberta (like other resource-heavy jurisdictions) should be trying to diversify its revenue sources and economic development instead of relying on the one-time sale of publicly-owned resources to pay the bills. And Robyn Allan points out why we shouldn't let oil barons pretend they need yet more concessions when it comes to pipeline construction:
U.S. consumers are not benefiting at our expense. A benefit from lower-priced Western Canadian crude oil at the refinery gate in the U.S. is not passed onto U.S. consumers in the form of lower prices for gasoline, jet fuel or diesel. U.S. consumers in the Midwest are price gouged.

It's the refining sector that sees the benefit of lower priced WCS in the form of windfall profits from low feedstock costs. To the extent U.S.-based refineries are owned by companies producing oil in Canada, there are no losses -- real or imaginary. Cenovus is one of those companies. After claiming a huge hit for the industry, and by implication, Cenovus, five minutes later Ferguson told his audience, "we are substantially benefiting (from the wide differentials) at our refinery in Wood River" where 130,000 barrels a day -- the majority of crude Cenovus produces -- is delivered.

So Ferguson's company is not suffering. And any other integrated oil company with refinery interests is not suffering.
- Michel Barnier, the EU's Internal Markets Commissioner, makes the case for a financial transactions tax as both a source of revenue and a check on rampant speculative trading:
"The financial crisis ... broke the back of growth and after all we helped out the financial sector, it's perfectly right and fair that it should give something back," he said.
The controversial tax on trading in stocks, bonds and derivatives came a step closer on Tuesday when European Union finance ministers allowed some member states to proceed with the plan, intended to reap billions of euros for struggling European nations.

Barnier said the tax was "perfectly bearable," and could be "applied fairly easily in technical terms."

Barnier acknowledged the fact the tax would be limited to Europe was a weakness.

"I would prefer it of course if this tax were a worldwide tax," he said. "I would prefer it if the UK and even the U.S. were on board."
- Mark Kennedy and Jason Fekete report that Stephen Harper doesn't consider Canada's First Nations to rate even a mention in his discussion with the Con caucus. But even the fact that's hardly the most hostile response the aboriginal movement has seen from Harper and his party just this week seems to fall short of capturing the Cons' wilful neglect of First Nations: instead, the Cons seem to have decided that they've heard more out of the Idle No More movement in the past few months than they expect to have to address in their entire stay in office, and are working to sever any remaining lines of communication so they can get back to their trained seal routine.

- Finally, the Star Phoenix weighs in on how Saskatchewan's new electoral boundaries finally bring us closer to nationally-recognized standards for communities of interest. But naturally, the Cons have laid the groundwork to preserve artificial divisions which serve their electoral purposes.

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