Opinion by Helge Nome
The increasingly volatile situation in the Middle East is causing an increase in commodity prices right across the board on world markets. That includes grains, energy, metals and everything that goes into making finished products. In the long term, that can only mean one thing: The inflation in prices of finished products. For those that are direct participants in this apparent oncoming boom, such as commodity producers, exporters and their employees, contractors and so on, this would seem to be good news. For those that are sitting on the sidelines, it is decidedly bad news because their monies will buy less of what they need to sustain themselves and their families. This is particularly true in third world countries in the Middle East and can only become an additional stimulus for revolt against the status quo. So, we are dealing with a process that has the potential to feed upon itself, sending commodity prices soaring even higher.
In the short term, oil patch workers here in Alberta are being overloaded with tasks involving the construction of new facilities and pipelines and labor shortages will develop as the boom gains momentum: Alberta’s huge tar sands deposits are considered to be a safe haven for energy supplies in light of Middle East upheavals and energy companies from all over the world are now investing heavily in energy properties and related infrastructure. The Americans in particular are taking some comfort here because of the effectively integrated political systems of Canada and the US.
For us Albertans it is a different story. Property ownership for us means less and less as Big Energy effectively runs our government and designs legislation to suit themselves by planting their people within the political parties and the civil “service”. For example, the President of the ruling Progressive Conservative Party here recently resigned from his post (after presumably long service) as he is one of the Vice Presidents of Altalink, one of the two companies given an estimated $16 billion construction contract by the Alberta Government for major power lines to be constructed to carry electric power from Northern Alberta to the south, including United States markets. Even people with plugged up noses can smell what has been going on here. So Albertans are taking their place alongside folks in third world countries, watching minorities in their midst get into bed with large corporate interests and doing you-know-what.