Bellwether Events

The year 1973 was tumultuous for the world, and calamitous for the United States.

In October 1973, Richard Nixon, the beleaguered President of the United States, ordered his Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, to fire Archibald Cox, who was investigating the Watergate affair.  Richardson refused and resigned his post rather than fire Cox. Cox was ultimately fired for wanting to subpoena the Watergate Tapes. Eventually the tapes were made public, and Nixon resigned rather than face impeachment for lying to the American public. Continue reading

Another Bet on the Future

Despite the surplus of oil in the world, investments in Canadian oil sands projects continue.  This past week, two Canadian First Nations issued bonds totalling $545 million.  The funds, raised by the Fort McKay and the Mikisew Cree First Nations, will be used to purchase a 49% stake in an oil storage terminal facility run by Suncor Energy. Continue reading

Is This Oil’s Tobacco Moment?

In the fourth season of the television show “Mad Men”, Don Draper, the mercurial creative head of the ad agency Sterling Cooper Draper Price wrote an ad published in the New York Times claiming that the agency will no longer accept advertising business from tobacco companies.  Don stated that he was relieved to no longer advertise a product that made people sick and unhappy.  The circumstances, in the mid-1960’s, when smoking tobacco was coming under fire from doctors and heath professionals, feels familiar, when the anti-smoking lobby came up against ‘big tobacco’ and, ultimately, science and empirical evidence against smoking held sway. Continue reading

Stick and Ball Sports

The professional sports leagues have a few things in common.  In baseball, basketball and football, a ball is used.  In hockey, a ball with the top and bottom sliced off, makes a puck.  In baseball and hockey, a bat or stick is used to hit the ball or puck to score.

Baseball and hockey, both stick and ball sports, have different rules.  There are nine players in the field for one team, and one opposing player in baseball.  For hockey, there are two opposing teams made up of six players each.

Hockey has three periods of 20 minutes each.  Baseball functions with up to nine innings.  In baseball, each team takes a turn hitting the ball to score.  In hockey, there is a free-for-all during a period in which to score.

I’m sure you’ve had enough of the sports analogy.  Here’s my point: Continue reading

Connecting to the Grid

A New York Times article about the struggle solar panel purchasers are going through in Hawaii should give Ontario consumers pause.

The article describes the local utility, Hawaiian Electric Company, as making things difficult to get solar panels, installed by individual  homeowners, connected to the grid.  The article alleges that many electrical utilities are looking at reducing the monies paid for privately generated solar energy, adding fees and making it difficult for solar panel companies to operate.

HEC is a publicly held company, not owned by the government.  Is this what will happen with the proposed sale of Hydro One?  What certainties will we have that the initiatives brought in by the previous government will continue?  Will electric vehicle subsidies be the next to go?

It’s not a question of whether or not we can afford solar energy fed into the grid.  It’s a question of whether or not we can afford not to.


Kathleen Wynne’s New Year’s Resolution

I remember my father pulling into the Canadian Tire gas bar, and before he came to a stop, an attendant was at his window asking if he wanted ‘regular’ or ‘high-test’.  Without any more conversation, the windows of his car were cleaned and the oil level checked.  If memory serves, gas was about $0.35 a gallon, and a fill-up could cost about $2.50.

Today, we ask ourselves if we want to endure standing in the cold to pump our own fuel, and brave more of the nasty winter winds to clean our own windshield.  Cars don’t consume oil like they used to, even though we should still check the level at every fill-up.  Fuel, up until a few short weeks ago, was $1.30 per litre, and to fill the tank in my moderately sized sport utility cross-over vehicle, was $80.00 Continue reading

Category Busters

As a new year begins, and the automotive press works through its “best of” lists to close out 2013, I can’t help but wonder about the year that wasn’t.  We don’t have an affordable electric vehicle that will travel more than 200km on a single charge.  We don’t have a charging system that will top up that battery in the same time as it takes to fill up an internal combustion engine powered vehicle. Continue reading