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Be it resolved

Here we are, three weeks into the New Year and I’m already struggling for original content. It’s a tough go, but I promise all of you I will struggle through. It’s just going to be that kind of year. Fortunately, I made a personal resolution last year that I was going to write shorter, punchier blogs. Well except for last week – that was a forecast and there was a lot of ground to cover. But shorter blogs means more time for me to do the deep dive research required to write the blog and less time commitment expected of the reader to, well, read the blog.

 

Another resolution I made this year was to ski more. Now I know no one cares about this, but I do. And in the spirit of resolutions, I managed to get out skiing yesterday and it was great. Pandemic skiing features less people, riding chairs by yourself and face coverings. Apres ski is a little more challenging but as a society I think we will survive.

 

Where am I going with this? Well since I went skiing by myself yesterday and spent the whole day riding chairs and ripping down runs as a virtual perpetual motion machine I had lots of time to think about “stuff”. Stuff like resolutions. I made two. Which I have described above. I wonder if anyone else has. Maybe, right? Have you? I’d be interested to know what they are. Unless it’s “get in shape”. We all know about that one and make it ourselves every year. I want the real ones.

 

Then I wondered what resolutions some of the people and nations we know may have made when the calendar flipped over from 2021 to 2022. For some, probably decent ones, for others, who knows. But working on the assumption that maybe they aren’t making the resolutions that we all want them to make, I thought it would be an interesting exercize – wait, scratch that, my duty – to think about and make those resolutions for them.

 

So here goes. I’ll start with some obvious people who need resolutions to get the ball rolling. And to keep it short (my own resolution), I am sticking to a top 10.

 

Boring Joe Biden. This is a tough one. He’s got a lot of things he wants to accomplish. Like Building Back Better. Passing Voting Reform. Reasserting the USA on the global stage. Avoiding electoral disaster in the mid terms. Wiping the January 6 Capitol mess off the bottom of his shoe. So here’s the resolution – it’s time for Grandpa Joe to start being Tough Joe Biden. Come out swinging against your detractors in the GOP, the media and your own party. Yell at some clouds. You’re a “hard-scrabble” protector of the little guy, a middle of the road centrist who knows how to get people together and achieve results. Get the elbows up and get it done.

 

Donald Trump. This one could go several ways. But I know where it should go. The Don needs to resolve to stop grifting and distracting everyone with this fake 2024 presidential run. It’s time for America to move on.

 

Justin Trudeau. Our fearless leader, who has been in hiding since, well, the least election, needs to make multiple resolutions. The first of course is that if you want to be Prime Minister anymore (which I actually doubt) then maybe you should be more front and centre and maybe, just maybe, recall Parliament early, so we can see a functional government. Second resolution – stop it with the environmental showboating and pay the F attention to the economy, because we are headed for a major shock. Inflation is a huge issue as is disastrous productivity numbers. If your only answer to Canada’s affordability crisis is “we’re subsidizing day care and handing out some carbon tax rebates so that’ll save you money” then maybe it’s time to step aside.

 

Jason Kenney. Here in Alberta, we have the most unpopular premier in the country. He’s heading into a leadership review in April that he may very well lose. He’s got a party that is fractured into rural vs urban, vax vs antivax, inner circle vs outsiders. It is entirely likely that it will come unglued if you get punted, all while the rising tide of royalty billions will eliminate the deficit. Resolutionstop being an ideological stump and reach out to your caucus to rebuild the party from the inside out. If you make it past April, there is a full year for you to rebuild confidence in and inside the party. It may seem hopeless now, but there is a path to victory for the UCP. It may not include you, but you can help it. Second resolution – whatever happens, accept your fate gracefully and don’t burn the whole thing down on your way out.

 

Rachel Notley. Can’t do Jason Kenney without his most viable competition (from a different party). Anyway, the resolution should be clear to anyone who follows Rachel on Twitter. You have a chance to get re-elected, enough with the amateur hour social media presence… Stop posing with bacon.

 

Vladimir Putin. The big poutine. Saber rattler and sh** disturber extraordinaire. Half naked, bareback riding, bow and arrow bear hunting hockey superstar. Here’s the resolution. Stop messing around in other countries’ business. You know it’s going to backfire. If you put half the effort into rebuilding Russia’s economy as you do into destabilizing neighbouring democracies you too could be as successful and handsome as Justin Trudeau.

 

Erin O’Toole. Who? Oh wait, he’s actually a major party leader? In Canada? Who knew! Resolution for the leader of the CPC, and the official opposition party in Canada – start acting like it, get control of your party and be present and visible, or you’ll get the metaphorical knife in the back, the sharks are circling.

 

Speaking of sharks, the most visible (and annoying) member of the Conservative Party of Canada is the “Finance” critic Pierre Poilievre. For some reason he is treated in conservative circles as some sort of genius, but I suspect that is because most people don’t actually listen to what he says since his voice would make nails on a chalkboard sound like the Ave Maria. So here is a multi-part resolution for the erstwhile Finance guy – first off, if you’re going to comment about “finance”, then learn about finance. Second, you can’t become the leader of a party if you rely on self-promoting gimmicks and stunts that make you look foolish, so start acting like a serious person. The CPC will never beat the Liberals if they continue to act like a team of barking seals.

 

Energy Industry as a whole. The energy industry, or more specifically the oil and gas industry, has gone through a number of tough years with cratering prices, lack of investment, restricted access to capital, divestment, demonization, calls for the industry’s elimination, accusations of environmentacide (new word, it’s mine, don’t steal it), derision, scorn, lefty elitist condescension and plain old general dismissiveness. Now, all of a sudden, and predictably, with rampant (transitory?) inflation, rebounding demand, lousy policy chickens coming home to roost, renewable energy transition over-reliance and just general result of constrained supply the oil and gas industry is seeing renewed interest in its role as a critical supplier of abundant and dense energy, rising prices and robust profits. Resolution – keep doing what you’re doing, head down, resist the temptation to say “I told you so” and keep the maniacal laughter to yourself.

 

Elon Musk. Everyone’s favourite global genius, big brain and manufacturer of recalled cars that occasionally drive themselves and kill people. Oh, and seller of stock after he pumps it up on Twitter mere days before yet more bad news. That guy. Resolution. Make better cars and finish that Mars rocket, be on the first mission. Don’t come back.

 

Saudi Arabia and OPEC +++++. This energy alliance earns a spot on this list thanks to its herculean efforts to manage production and help reduce global inventories to such a point that prices have stabilized across the board and literally every oil producer on the planet is making money, except Venezuela and Pemex. Resolution. Avoid the temptation to really cash in and keep production below quota. And keep the group together, because the other temptation is to open the taps too quickly and sink the market the other way.

 

US Light Tight Oil and shale gas producers. Back in the early 2000’s as oil and natural gas prices surged, a bunch of US producers cobbled together some of their own tech as well as plenty of process stolen from Canadians and unlocked gas from shale and then solved the riddle of light tight oil and proceeded to unleash a boom in production that transformed the energy industry and the geopolitics of oil before ultimately collapsing the entire industry (including Canada’s) under the weight of unprofitable over-investment, unrestrained production and OPEC revenge. Resolution. Don’t do that again. Prices are up, production is restrained. Profits are back. Be happy. No need to strangle the golden goose’s baby brother.

 

Alberta Oil and & Gas companies. Unlike their American counterparts, our homegrown energy companies only got to participate in the first round of the LTO energy boom, mainly because well-documented egress and political issues exacerbated the knock-on effects post 2014 and held back much needed growth investment in the sector until pretty much today. But they learned some important lessons along the way. Canadian companies got lean. They deleveraged faster than their American counterparts. They learned to live within their means. They got more efficient. They waited patiently for more egress. They are currently producing at the highest levels ever. They survived to thrive. Resolution. Remember what got you here. Keep your eye on the prize.

 

Serious Environmental People. You know who you are. You are the silent warriors who work both the front lines and the back offices, doing the hard work. Measuring. Counting. Observing. Cataloguing. Mitigating. These are the people who are making a real difference by being part of the process and the solution. Holding all polluters and laggards to account. They develop policy. They make a real difference. They occasionally even get the ear of government and/or the companies they are focused on. Their weapons are facts, figures and solutions. Not shameless self-promotion. Resolution for them? Stand up and be seen. Stop letting the keyboard warriors tell your story.

 

The Keyboard Warriors. You know who they are. These are the people on either side of the political aisle whose sole reason for existence is to criticize from the safety of their cushy work from home locale. They pile on to whatever they don’t agree with and encourage their legions of sycophants to join the party. They are typically more like drive-by shooters than people who want to engage in meaningful dialogue. The quick snark, followed by the acolyte pile-on, generating yet more engagement is all they want. The come from the right, the left and the middle. They are… Annoying? Unarguable? Tired of being crowded in a room with each other catching Omicron? You get the point. Resolution? The coffee cup.

Antivax conspiracy people. Yup. I have a comment here. Vaccines work. They don’t prevent transmission, especially when so many are unvaxxed and a virus is able to mutate. But they do reduce hospitalization and extreme outcomes amongst those who are vaccinated, especially with a virulent mutation that has escaped the immunizing capability of the vaccine. The numbers are obvious to anyone who looks. Resolution. Remedial math. If 50% of hospitalization is coming from 90% of the population and the other 50% is coming from 10%, it means that the 10% are screwed. Any other conclusion is dumb. Sorry.

 

Media. When they’re not busy amplifying Biden’s perceived policy failures, pumping up Trump’s relevance, beaking about the “transitory” nature of inflation, detailing the inevitability of the energy transition, adding to pandemic panic or promoting anti-vaxxer rhetoric, the media in the last few years has been a massive fever swamp of garbage. Whether it’s Fox “News” and the increasingly toxic and unhinged Tucker (will always be an F) Carlson or leftie loons on MSNBC or both sides’ism’d CNN or the rudderless subsidy riddled CBC, we have been subjected to a level of curated, click-driven misinformation that is unprecedented in a supposed “free” society. When Twitter or Redditt is a more reliable source of information than the mainstream media, we have a serious problem. Resolution. Less opinion. More fact. If I want to know what you think, I will subscribe to your Substack.

 

Central Banks, especially the Bank of Canada. For the past several years, central banks worldwide have engaged in a systematic effort to push cheap credit into the market to support economies through various economic shocks, most important of which has been the pandemic and the very real need to provide liquidity. But the party has gone on too long. The result has been an orgy of borrowing and asset inflation that makes the subprime fiasco look like a tea party at American Girl. And now? Inflation. Wage pressure. Asset bubbles. Resolution? Soft(ish) landing. 50 bp this quarter. 25 bp in June. 25 bp in September. You can make it higher if you want.

 

Doug Ford. Teflon Doug is an interesting one. Derided from the left for his perceived colossal mismanagement of the pandemic (hey, I live in Best Summer Ever land, I can’t comment), regularly mocked for his recurring disappearing acts to his cottage anytime things got tough and just generally perceived to be serially incompetent, deeply unpopular and facing the voters this year, Doug Ford against all odds is leading in the polls and if an election were held today, would be re-elected with ease. Whether this is due to his policies or his ability to massively trigger the outraged punditry by digging out a stranded motorist and talking about it on Face Time while driving (second trigger), I can’t say. Given his propensity to defy expectations, I hesitate to make a resolution on his behalf, but I’ll try. Resolution. Keep doing what you’re doing, the stumbly-bumbly thing works. Buy a bigger shovel.

 

And now a few quick hits:

 

Crypto Bros. You know these guys. Made a fortune on crypto! Spend all their time promoting crypto on line and figuring out which profile picture looks best with the red laser eyes. Resolution. Finally move out of parent’s basement.

 

Kyrie Irving. Unvaccinated NBA superstar and part-time player. Flat-earther. Noted intellectual. Resolution. Finally get around to reading the encyclopedia mom bought me when I was 3.

 

 

Jordan Peterson. Who? Exactly. Resolution. Find a rock. Crawl back under.

 

 

Joe Rogan. Man with a podcast. Many opinions. Very few facts. Questionable advice giver. Resolution. Buy Ivermectin farm.

 

 

Aaron Rodgers. QB. Green Bay. Immunized. COVID toe. Resolution. Shut up and play.

 

Murray Edwards. Billionaire. Hockey Team owner. Swiss miss. Resolution. When CNRL shares breach $100, I will consider paying for sidewalks and a solar rechargeable parking meter in front of a city-owned events centre, but nothing more.

 

Stormont. Blogger. Advisor. Energy knowledgeable. Resolution? Ending blogs before the well of creativity runs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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