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It has been more than 15 years since tear gas filled the streets of Seattle and tens of thousands of people protested the meeting of the World Trade Organization, or WTO. That week of protests in late 1999 became known as "The Battle of Seattle," as the grassroots organizers successfully blocked world leaders, government trade ministers and corporate executives from meeting to sign a global trade deal that many called deeply undemocratic, harming workers' rights, the environment and Indigenous people globally.
Canada's economy has been thrown into turmoil by the dramatic decline in oil prices over the last six months. World crude prices have plunged by half: from around $100 (US) per barrel in summer 2014, to around $50 today (see Figure 1). Worse yet, Canada's oil output receives an even lower price: our unprocessed heavy oil exports sell for only about $35 per barrel in the U.S. market (because of its lower quality and a regional supply glut).
Public ownership of oil refineries will see Alberta through low oil prices, says AFL President Gil McGowan
Low oil and gas prices may be benefitting consumers in the short-term, but small victories at the pump come with some grave long-term effects for Canada's economy.
With oil prices 40 per cent lower than they were last year, the Conference Board of Canada predicts that national economic growth will be just 1.9 per cent in 2015, down from 2.4 per cent in 2014.
Last week, very wisely, the New York premiere of the film The Interview was cancelled. This week, Sony Pictures cancelled the release of the film, then changed its mind and announced it will release it on Christmas Day.
Am I the only one to find an air of déjà vu in the North Korean-The Interview affair? Has everyone forgotten, or are they too young to remember, that in 1980, the British film Death of a Princess, by Antony Thomas and Gladys Ganley, provoked similar responses on the part of Saudi Arabia?
Number of rail cars carrying Bakken crude oil that crashed into the Quebec community of Lac-Mégantic in July 2013, killing 47 people. (Source)
Percentage of tank cars carrying crude oil in North America (at the time of the accident) that were outdated DOT-111 rail cars deemed unsuitable for such transportation. All 72 cars on the MM&A trains that crashed into Lac-Mégantic were old DOT-111s. (Source)