Crude Observations

Ministry of Silly Walks

You know how every once in a while you get this sudden wave of inspiration flowing over you and you feel that you can do no wrong and are pretty much on top of the world? I get that every once in while working on this blog and the words just flow from my brain to my hands to my non touch-typing trained (sorry ma!) carpal tunnel wracked index fingers onto the blank slate word document and create something without peer. A true creative transfer that leaves the writer with a sense of smug satisfaction. Or so I tell myself.


Well this probably isn’t one of those weeks. However, in an effort to break the ennui of, you know, Waiting for TrudeauTM (soon to be a major off-off-off Broadway production), I thought I would cast my gaze further afield to see what current events were out there that could inspire me to release the hounds so to speak.


So I looked around at the various things happening around the world for a subject to tackle…


  • Brexit – Well since for the longest time I thought Brexit was a type of cracker and I don’t really get it anyway, I’ll pass.


  • Trade Wars – nah, trade wars are too easy.


  • Trump – nope, not going there.


  • Crashing oil prices – too easy again, and I’d just end up writing the reverse article in a month or so when refineries come back online.


  • TransMountain – no, I need to save all my dry powder and outrage on that one for June 18, just in case.


  • Elizabeth May and the Green Party – tempting… very tempting… but I hate to give them any oxygen until they can adequately reconcile their antisemitism with protecting the environment.


  • The Saudi/Iran proxy war – nope, not fully engaged yet.


Wow. So many topics, so little inspiration. Undaunted, I turned my attention inwards, to good old reliable Alberta, because there is always so much going on here, not the least of which was the swearing in of the Jason Kenney led UCP government and the “Speech from the Throne”.


(For the benefit of any American readers, a speech from the throne is an arcane Canadian tradition whereby the appointee of the Queen (Lieutenant Governor provincially and Governor General federally) who is the actual, titular head of state for Canada and its provinces delivers a speech laying out the government’s priorities for a parliamentary session and many of the bills it hopes to pass. Think State of the Union, but in costume.)


At any rate, the Alberta Speech from the Throne laid out the UCP government’s priorities, many of which we knew about  – carbon tax repeal, tax cuts, red tape reduction, but the one I have chosen to focus on is the UCP “war room” which will serve to promote the Alberta energy sector and implement the “fight back” strategy against the dastardly American, foreign and, sadly, majority Canadian-funded ENGO’s seeking to undermine our very existence.


Now, the War Room isn’t a Cabinet post, but it is for want of a better term a department and it will have a budget and staff and like any department will have a leader. In fact, some of the fun this past week has been watching the Twitterverse blow up about which member of the media may or may not be falling all over themselves to get this important role. Heck, maybe I should throw my hat into the ring! Can you imagine the hilarity that would ensue? But, I’m getting ahead of myself. We all know who the job is being offered to (Andrew Leach anyone?).


But really, take a step back. Are we not missing the bigger picture here? Aside from its decidedly awkward and militaristic name, the very fact of the single issue department is kinda bizarre yet brilliant, no? Is this a thing with the new government? Will we see more of this?  We need answers.


And then I thought, why should Alberta have all the fun with the kooky departments? Why can’t other provinces and jurisdictions come up with their own non-traditional departments and ministries to represent specific interests or serve a special purpose?


Look, I’m not talking the Ministry of Silly Walks or anything that radical, but small-budget, targeted departments that could, much like the War Room, fulfill a specific function for the government of the day.


So, let’s have some fun with it. And you know what, I’ll go first. In fact, keep your ideas to yourselves – I’ve got this.


Let’s start in Canada and see where it goes.


British Columbia.


Ministry of Hypocrisy – this one is pretty easy, but low-lying fruit and cheap shots is kind of par for the course for me these days. This ministry in the province of British Columbia will exist specifically to manage and deliver government policy and positions that both suck and blow. For example, one policy platform they are required to manage is the promotion of natural gas development and export from the coast while vigorously fighting against the export of oil from the same coast and port. Another key plank will be the “we don’t want your expanded pipeline, but we want more deliveries on the existing, overloaded pipeline”. See how easy this is? I don’t know who should head this department, maybe the post should be assigned to someone from the green party, if only because their hypocrisy is already so apparent.


Department of Spurious Lawsuits and Pointless Face-Saving Studies. A bit of a mouthful, this department was originally going to be called the Department of Every Tool in the Toolbox but like all things government it inevitably grew in scope. Key files here are any and all anti-pipeline lawsuits, appeals, reference cases as well as studies into such things as “gouging by oil companies because our gas prices are so high”. The beauty of this department is that it isn’t accountable and isn’t bound by niceties such as “inter-provincial trade and the constitution” nor does it have to ever look at the impact of current provincial policy on the price of gas for its study because, well, that gets subsumed into the Ministry of Hypocrisy. One last responsibility of this department is to coordinate the provincial response to the turn off the taps bill.




In addition to the War Room, another department for the new provincial government is the Department of Argh, That’s Not What I Said. This department will exist solely to refer speculative newspaper articles and out of context Twitter quoters back to the actual UCP platform or words uttered by Jason Kenney both on the election trail and in government. Like his policies or not, like the man or not, Jason Kenney is very precise and definitive about how he speaks. This department will become important when provincial budgeting gets discussed, federal-provincial relations get debated and new bills get introduced.


Picking up on the UCP government’s pledge to “end the war on fun” (what is it with all the militarism in the UCP platform? Is there something we need to prepare for?) I think it’s high time Alberta had a Ministry of Fun, since as we all know, nothing puts the fun in “fun” more than government.




Often cast as a wallflower in the heated intensity that is the debate about Alberta oil and gas production versus the insidious incursions of the federal government and the obstructionism of the BC government, Saskatchewan is no shrinking violet in the energy production discussion. That being the case, wouldn’t it be grand if Saskatchewan had a Ministry of We’re Here Too? They could travel the land, preaching the gospel about Rider Nation oil production, showing people out east that no, the Bakken doesn’t just stop at the North Dakota/Saskatchewan border like the maps show, but actually extends well into the province. Other duties could include inter-provincial participation in such weighty matters as the Alberta War Room, pipeline escape routes, Al Capone’s secret tunnels and tanker bans.




A senior ministry that it seems Ontario needs just about now is the Ministry of Oh God, What Have I Done. This Ministry, which will report to the Health Ministry is laser focused on providing mental health support and counselling  to any and all Ontario voters who are experiencing what can only be described as an acute form of buyer’s remorse as the Ford government continues to pursue its bizarrely disconnected from Ontarians mandate unfettered.


The next department for Ontario is the Department of Don’t Screw it Up for Scheer. While small, this department is intended to provide advice to the Ontario premier to rein in his worst instincts and stop him from continually implementing policy that seems to have only one purpose – inflame Ontarians to such an extent that once the federal election rolls around, the last person they will ever vote for will be one that has the word Conservative even remotely associated with them.


An offshoot of the above department is the Put a Sock in it Board. The mandate for this board is to deal with any MPP who steps out of line and off message by any means necessary. This is a bad-ass department staffed by all of Doug Ford’s crony ex-cop friends.




Ah Quebec. There are so many ministries we could create here, not the least of which would be a French Language Ministry. The purpose of this ministry would be to mandate and regulate the use of French in the province, measure the size of English letters on signs, force multi-national businesses to francicize their names, create duplicate French websites and otherwise be a kind of French language police. Oh wait. That already exists. Ah, parody. Mock thyself.


OK then, what can we give Quebec? It has to be something different because they are distinct after all. A couple of ideas…


The Ministry of Rug Sweeping will be tasked with hiding/obfuscating from the rest of Canada and Quebec itself all the inconvenient fossil fuel facts about La Belle Province, such as the existence of major refining complexes on both the island of Montreal and Levis near Quebec City. Other tricky subjects they will cover up will be the hundreds of thousands of barrels imported by multiple daily oil tankers plying the Saint Lawrence River, the nation-leading SUV purchasing growth in the province and that Quebecois gas consumption is both the fastest growing and highest per capita in Canada. Oh, and there’s a pipeline that passes under the river to the Island of Montreal. So there.


The Department of Don’t Look Behind the Curtain will do its best to hide some of the “inconvenient truths” about Quebec’s anti-carbon bonafides starting with the interesting tidbit that Quebec’s cap and trade program, approved by the Federal government likely results in a cost of carbon lower than the federal minimum and less than that imposed by the Federal government on other provinces that don’t have their own plan – like soon to be climate scofflaw Alberta. Oops! Also hidden by this department will be that concrete plant conceived and built without real environmental consultation of substance that has carbon emissions as high as 2 million tons per year. Plus they will run the headfake on anyone who dares to question the greenness of hydro and will gloss over the methane trap that is the flooded regions of Northern Quebec that made all this green power possible. Shh – nothing to see here!


Another new ministry will be called called the Ministry of Very Important Companies. This ministry will have four members – a representative from each of Bombardier, SNC Lavalin, the Federal Liberal Party and the Caisse de Depot. Their mandate is to meet in secret and decide how best to divvy up pension money and federal bailouts to line their pockets, rescue failing businesses, protect jobs that aren’t at risk and, when required, bribe the heck out of narco-terrorists from Middle Eastern countries that need infrastructure built.




There are so many different ministries and new departments that could be established federally that it is hard to know where to start. But let’s give it a shot.


The most obvious one should be a Ministry of Apologies. This one is likely a cabinet post and can be the repository for all of the wrongs committed by Canada and Canadians vis a vis whatever special interest group, immigrant population, first nations groups, the environment, international NGO’s, species at risk and whatever virtue signalling cause du jour comes to mind up to, but never past, the date the Trudeau Liberals were elected since, as we all know, the current government can do no wrong and has absolutely nothing to apologize for.


The second important ministry is the Ministry of Obstruction, Obfuscation and Political Interference. The thinking behind this department is that since the Prime Minister’s Office has done such a hack job as the “Not Ready For Prime Time Players” when it comes to political interference and obstruction that the country would most assuredly be better served if this became an official ministry staffed by full-time career civil servants as opposed to inner-circle sycophants and hangers-on who have no training in how to effectively execute and cover-up a scandal. Not that Canada’s civil service is skilled in that, rather they have just seen so much of it they are likely experts by osmosis.


The Department of Costumes and Socks is another new department that should be a fairly obvious requirement. No real description needed, the name speaks for itself.


Department of Climate Change Virtue-Signalling. Separate from Environment, this department would take on responsibility for publicly signalling to the world all the good intentions Canada has relative to climate change, specifically emissions and tax, while having absolutely zero accountability for actual delivery of any impossible to achieve promises. The genius of separating the aspiration from the execution means no one is accountable and everyone wins.




While I hesitate on making extra-jurisdictional recommendations, I thought it would be worthwhile to float a couple of ideas just for fun.


Given the rise to prominence of this new way of combating perceived enemies and achieving nothing of substance in return, I thought it was time that the United States developed a Department of Trade Wars. This unit would be responsible for setting strategy and execution of the various trade wars that the US has entered into, preparing the propaganda and disinformation campaigns for both domestic and international audiences and bullying the WTO and Canada. Since most of these trade wars have been entered into with similar flimsy analysis and support that prompted the Iraq invasion and have been subjected to the same rigorous costing as that expensive campaign, it seems only appropriate that while the Iraq war was financed by taxes on poor Americans, borrowing from China and oil concessions to Halliburton and Exxon in Iraq, then the Trade War Department should be 100% financed by the tariffs it collects from targeted countries (otherwise know as US consumers). This will ensure both the continuity of the Department into perpetuity and the continuation of useless trade wars until, well, forever. Kinda like Middle East interventions.


In a similar vein, I would suggest a Department of No Collusion/No Obstruction should be established to develop, produce and deliver all messaging relating to the Trump administration’s rebuttal to the Mueller Report, mainly because the non-stop repetition of the words seems to be relatively unconvincing. To be effective, it likely requires some skilled political operatives to run it, I am thinking Paul Manafort, Julian Assange and a couple of hundred Russian Twitter bots.


The last Department I am thinking of recommending is the Department of Old White Guys Who Can’t Let Go. Modeled after the VA, this department should be established to provide counselling and support for what I would call “political veterans” – current and former politicians who may or may not be past their prime but have a demonstrated reluctance/inability to step out of the way and let the next generation take their shot at running the country. It’s specifically targeted at “Old White Guys” because, let’s face it, that’s the demographic that can’t move on. Don’t believe me? I have the (un)holy trinity of Trump-Biden-Bernie to back me up – and no, Trump’s orange hue and Bernie’s redface don’t obviate the whiteness – average age is what… 102?


United Kingdom


Look, I had to go there. It’s just too easy. Clearly with Brexit front and centre and Milkshake attacks against politicians on the rise, it only stands to reason that what the United Kingdom actually needs is in fact a…


Department of Silly Walks. This is what the whole Brexit situation needs. It’s what we all need actually in the face of the near constant onslaught on our sanity and desire for a little political stability every now and then. A healthy dose of humour. And Monty Python’s brilliance in calling out governmental absurdity is unassailable.


Enjoy the video clip linked below.


Prices as at May 24 (May 17), 2019 

  • The price of oil was up early in the week before cratering on renewed trade war fears
    • Storage posted an increase
    • Production was down
    • The rig count in the US was down, slightly
  • Injections to storage were below expectations for gas. The market was unmoved
  • WTI Crude: $59.02 ($62.66)
  • Western Canada Select: $42.67 ($49.71)
  • AECO Spot *: $2.07 ($2.16)
  • NYMEX Gas: $2.594 ($2.612)
  • US/Canadian Dollar: $0.7465 ($0.7434)


  • As at May 17, 2019, US crude oil supplies were at 476.8 million barrels, an increase of 4.7 million barrels from the previous week and 38.6 million barrels above last year.
    • The number of days oil supply in storage is 28.9 compared to 26.4 last year at this time.
    • Production was up for the week at 12.200 million barrels per day. Production last year at the same time was 10.725 million barrels per day.
    • Imports fell from 7.612 million barrels to 6.943 million barrels per day compared to 8.159 million barrels per day last year.
    • Exports from the US fell to 3.922 million barrels per day from 3.347 million barrels per day last week compared to 1.748 million barrels per day a year ago
    • Canadian exports to the US were 3.688 million barrels a day, up from 3.484
    • Refinery inputs fell marginally during the during the week to 16.578 million barrels per day
  • As at May 17, 2019, US natural gas in storage was 1.753 billion cubic feet (Bcf), which is about 14% lower than the 5-year average and about 8% higher than last year’s level, following an implied net injection of 100 Bcf during the report week
    • Overall U.S. natural gas consumption was up 1% during the report week
    • Production for the week was down 1%. Imports from Canada increased 4% from the week before. Exports to Mexico were down 4%
    • LNG exports totaled 38.2 Bcf
  • As of May 17, 2019, the Canadian rig count was up at 78 (AB – 53; BC – 11; SK – 11; MB – 0; Other – 3). Rig count for the same period last year was 79.
  • US Onshore Oil rig count at May 24, 2019 is at 797, down 5 from the week prior.
    • Peak rig count was October 10, 2014 at 1,609
  • Natural gas rigs drilling in the United States was up 1 at 186.
    • Peak rig count before the downturn was November 11, 2014 at 356 (note the actual peak gas rig count was 1,606 on August 29, 2008)
  • Offshore rig count was unchanged at 22.
    • Offshore peak rig count at January 1, 2015 was 55

US split of Oil vs Gas rigs is 80%/20%, in Canada the split is 68%/32%


  • On Friday the 24th, the BC Supreme Court ruled in a reference case that the BC government couldn’t restrict the type of oil flowing through the TransMountain Pipeline. While this will be appealed, because, well, because, it is a significant win for the TransMountain project.

Trump Watch: Trade War! Trade War! Trade War! Take that Huawei! Please ignore the flashing red on the stock market.

Kenney Watch (new!): New parliament – lots of bills! Busy. Busy. Busy!

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