Crude Observations

Post Forecast Let Down

So, the aftermath of the Fearless Forecast blog, which sucks out a lot of energy from yours truly is really akin to a massive hangover. I am devoid of ideas, writing skill, desire – you name it. The random number generator is spent.


And yes, I apologize for the worst Super Bowl call in all of forecasting history. I picked the Cowboys because they seemed good and were likely to go far. I never anticipated that a bunch of pro athletes would have that little motivation or competitive fire and get completely whipped in the first round by a team that squeaked into the playoffs. Until I saw the Eagles. How either of these coaches are still employed is beyond me, the teams have clearly quit on them, even the most sheltered billionaire rich owner can see that, right? Right?!?!?!?!


Yet the world goes on. And on. Why just this week the US and the UK, with Canada providing moral support by picking the colour of pen to sign the order with, elected to bomb the Houthi terrorists who were lobbing rockets at freighters traversing the Red Sea. This is bad, right? Disrupting international commerce? Generally frowned upon. Except by a certain professional protestor class in North America that equates defending international shipping to an expansion of genocide and an escalation of Middle East wars.


Look, I don’t agree, but you are entitled to your opinion. You’ve been heard. This seems like a big deal but I don’t have the energy to tackle it – that’s how spent I am.


At the same time this week we have the annual spectacle of the Davos Forum – the annual hobnobbery put on by the World Economic Forum and its Dr. Evil founder Klaus Schwab. Look. I know we all think the WEF is the nexus of woke evil in all the world but this year it feels like no one actually cares. I usually am good for a whole blog about annoying elitism, but this time I actually forgot it was going on.


The highlight of course was new Argentinian president Mieli flying from Buenos Aires to Davos commercial to get up and give a keynote speech to the assembled elite masses wherein he told them they were all full of shit. It was brilliant! Absolutely crazy. But brilliant.


Begs the question of course – why hadn’t anyone done that before? I feel like Davos is done.


Or, hear me out, we had the Perplexing Power Predicament of 2024, wherein cold weather, generation constraints and massive demand put us poor folks in Alberta into, horror of horrors, a grid alert. Rest assured, I unplugged my iPhone to help save the day.


A couple of other items of note this week. One, the City of Calgary continued with their “death by a thousand empty gestures” approach to the “climate emergency” and two, I tried to book a flight on Air Canada.


First, the Calgary nonsense. Joining a few other virtuous Canadian cities, Calgary city council approved some time ago a new bylaw that makes it illegal to provide single use bags and/or utentils and other “stuff” from stores and restaurants. Unless you pay for them. And the price rises over time.


It seems like a great idea, right? Free the landfills, reduce plastic, save the world. Except the savings are so minor against the inconvenience that all it will accomplish is the ejection of the current council and mayor when the next election rolls around.


Imagine for a second you are at McDonalds and you want a quarter-pounder with cheese combo (yum). Youi make your order and at window 2 you are handed your dripping drink, piping hot fries and a burger in a box, a handful of ketchup packets and a napkin. Where’s the bag you might ask? Well you had to request and pay for that. No problem, I’ll just put this greasy, drippy food down on my fine Corinthian leather seats and get them cleaned later $100. Dumb.


Look, I’m all good with reducing waste, but legislating this is a recipe for disaster.


Oh, and I saw in the news where some federal agency was gearing up to study the climate impacts of the woodburning pizza and bagel ovens on the environment.


We have crossed the rubicon. Want to know what Poilievre is leading in the polls? This is why.








Finally, I had to book spring break. As some of you know, I am a rare breed. I fly Air Canada. Always have, always will.


But last year I noticed that they had cut non-stop flights from Calgary to Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. And I was hopping mad about it. So mad, I wrote a letter to the President of Air Canada about it.


It went nowhere, but I wanted to be heard.


Well here we are this year and lo and behold, those flights are still gone.


Worse still, the Canadian market continues to be carved up between West Jet and Air Canada and the federal government is sitting on the sidelines doing sweet fuck all about it. It is collusion – overt or covert and it is happening beneath our noses.


Did you know that Air Canada has gone from about 100 departures out of Calgary a day to less than 40 in a matter of years? And that WestJet has made up this slack at the expense of flights in Eastern Canada?


Has anyone stopped to think what the airline market in Canada might look like in a few years with the country divided up between Air Canada and WestJet, each with their own fiefdom and hubs, select international destinations and the ability to set prices with virtually no competition?


It’s not going to be pretty.


At any rate, I wrote a follow up angry letter to the president of Air Canada about that fact that my super privileged non stop flight with a cheese plate no longer existed, the text of which is below.


But the real story is how we, the Canadian flying consumer, is getting screwed out of thousands of hard and soft dollars by colluding airlines while our federal, provincial and municipal governments micro-manage our lives and spending habits, in the name of an environmental goal we can’t possibly achieve.


Oh well, at least we can still get chop sticks. Wait. We Can’t? Dammit it all to hell.




Mr. Michael Rousseau

President and Chief Executive Officer

Air Canada


Re:  Air Canada Service from YYC and YEG – A Follow Up – via Email


Dear Michael,


I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing today to follow up on the letter I sent you last year around this time wherein I registered my extreme dismay at what I feel is an egregious slight perpetrated on flyers coming out of the Calgary and Edmonton markets by your airline – Canada’s branded “National Carrier”.


At the time, I remarked on how bizarre it was that Air Canada had apparently chosen to abandon these markets, in particular the non-stop service to the following US markets – Phoenix, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco. Which of course are the markets covered by your “Sun Destination” flight pass, of which I had been an enthusiastic purchaser until, of course, they became virtually impossible to use. (I would note you are still, cynically, selling them).


I don’t know what is more puzzling – that there are two flights a day to Phoenix from Vancouver (not even close to a traditional vacation spot for Left Coasters) and none from Calgary or that it is easier and more timely for my sister to fly to Phoenix and stay at my condo from Toronto (4 hour direct/non-stop) than it is for me from Calgary (used to be a 2.5 hour flight, now it is a Lord of The Rings style epic journey via Vancouver requiring a 6 am flight (who gets up at 3 am to catch a plane) to connect via Vancouver and land, in theory, a full 7 hours later – does Air Canada hate families?


At any rate, at the time, you had an executive based in Vancouver contact me and we had a delightful and informative conversation about the challenges of scheduling an airline, corporate strategy, equipment and (lack of) manpower. I left that call satisfied that someone had listened to my concerns but knew that any action was unlikely in the immediate term. At the time, I also thought that these flights had a small likelihood of returning in the latter part of 2023, so I extended my pass from October to January. No flights of course appeared – fool me twice right?


The reason for my letter today is that at the end of next week my remaining flight pass will expire with 10 credits still unused. There is now an opportunity to extend it for another 3 months, but I had already done that once and couldn’t use it – do I need to keep throwing money away? What would you do?

I am not able to use them for an upcoming trip because I already booked – on Lynx – god help me. And besides, there is no prospect for the return of Air Canada to these routes before May, is there?

So, as you can see, I am in a bit of a pickle – a real conundrum you might say. Keep supporting an airline I like that doesn’t appear to like me? Or throw in the towel and toss away $3300?


As I said in my earlier correspondence, perception is reality and you appear to have abandoned us rubes in Alberta and ceded the market to WestJet, Lynx and Flair and for many passengers – both past and potential, this tells them all the need to know about what Air Canada thinks of them and their dollars – not very much at all.


I don’t need to get into all the detail about population and markets that I did previously, you know your market and have a strategy. To the layman, it certainly appears that you and WestJet are conveniently apportioning the market in Canada amongst yourselves, a development that is worrisome to consumers from an affordability and availability standpoint – so rest assured, I’m not just singling out Air Canada.


I waited to reach out as I had assumed you would have bought Lynx by now to be honest – they have all the landing slots you gave up and are an obvious target. Not soon enough to help me though. And as can be seen from the Jet Blue/Spirit Air debacle sentiment can turn pretty fast when government decides something isn’t a “good thing”.


Look, I know that this is 100% a first-world problem and that I am coming at this from a place of extreme privilege. I also know that I can just as easily book my Phoenix flights through WestJet (or Lynx, never Flair), but habits are hard to break and it is the principle that matters.


As I said in my earlier letter, I love Air Canada and have a history. I will gladly pay more to fly Air Canada and do so more often than not – I have not flown within Canada on another airline in more than a decade.


Ultimately, I thought I could console myself on the return I got on my Air Canada shares between letters, except the stock is down 8.9% from February 26 to today. So, I have lost money there too. Oh well.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to my concerns. A mentor of mine told me long ago that to effect change, you should always start at the top, hence this correspondence.


I will leave this dilemma in your capable hands.


Best regards


Mr. Stuart H. Parnell, CFA, Managing Director    

Stormont Capital Advisors


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