Crude Observations

Nope, not 150 facts about Canada

While last week was significant in that I was able to celebrate a major milestone birthday (cue eye roll in 3, 2, 1 …), this week of course presents a much more unique opportunity. I am referring of course to Canada’s sesquicentennial, or 150th birthday. And who am I to resist the rather obvious temptation of waxing poetic about one of my favourite subjects, the true north strong and free.


That’s because Canada, while dull (let’s face it), is nonetheless a remarkable construct.


As a country and nation, we were not forged in the hot contest of bloody revolution and trial by fire experienced by our much larger southern neighbour or the result of some geographic accident of tribal movements across a continent like much of the rest of the world.


Nope, Canada as a nation is a meticulously assembled patchwork of distinct geographic areas and populations, brought together through polite and deferential negotiation. The articles of Confederation that came to being in 1867 were motivated as much through a desire to form a nation as to establish a bulwark against the emerging industrial powerhouse that the United States was becoming after the end of the US Civil War. A “thanks but no thanks” economic and political union.


The initial proponents of this union were of course the Maritime provinces, Upper Canada (Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec) soon to be followed by British Columbia and the “middle” – Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba and, finally, perfected with Newfoundland joining on April Fool’s Day in 1949. (Ironically, it was the promise of a massive infrastructure project to the coast that convinced BC to come on board but I suppose that’s a matter for another day.)


At any rate, one of the defining features of Canada is the spirit of compromise and shove it together that allowed it to be formed in the first place. I can think of no other place in the world where a fiery and proud Francophone culture like Quebec coexists with the stiff upper lip blandness of the British/Anglo Saxon heritage of the rest of the country while continually getting poked in the eye by brash upstarts from those crazy frontier people in the West. It’s a goofy marriage of convenience that should never have worked yet somehow does. And people wonder why duct tape is so popular here.


So, a bunch of guys in a room saying hey, let’s tie all these things together, see what happens and carry on. And from these humble beginnings we get the remarkable thing that is Canada today.


So what is Canada today? Does anyone really know, aside from Peter Mansbridge and Rex Murphy? (hint to our American friends – these are some of our more famous journalists, like Peter Jennings, Ali Velshi and Morley Safer – wait, they’re Canadian too!).


If Canada were a person, we would say that Canada is compassionate. Canada is polite. Canada is firm. Canada is inventive. Canada talks incessantly about the weather. Canada is welcoming. And Canada has some nasty baggage it is dealing with.


Chief among this – meh, pretty much exclusively since most of the other stuff is pretty petty, Canada’s legacy of colonialism and mistreatment of its indigenous populations (a history we share with many former colonies) is one which we are incrementally but painfully trying to deal with as a nation. No discussion of Canada is complete without addressing with this history. It isn’t easy and a large part of our next 150 will be defined by how we deal with this history and ongoing issues, but in this, as in many things Canadian, I have confidence in progress. Why? Because it’s what we do. There is no real sweeping under the carpet in Canada, our warts are always played out for all to see. Think Olympic doping and national inquiries. Are we going to get it right in a big hurry? Nope. But we will persevere and get ‘er done. Because.


This aside (or even included, for what country is without original sin), we have much to be proud of (aside from weather, who’s kidding who) and Canada remains one of the best countries in the world in which to live and a land of innumerable and occasionally remarkable accomplishments, invention and natural bounty.


So, as is common in most of these pro-Canada celebratory missives, in no particular order some of Canada’s most significant contributions to the world should at this point be highlighted.


Canadian inventions/creations of significance include the zipper. Seriously. Imagine a world without the zipper? Not only that, how about peanut butter, insulin, the telephone, basketball (sorry USA), the pacemaker, bagged milk, POUTINE, the paint roller, the Wonderbra, the retractable beer carton handle, plexiglass, IMAX, standard time, snowmobiling, ham and pineapple pizza (hawaiian), the lightbulb, the Bloody Caesar (try it), , the caulking gun, lacrosse and SUPERMAN!!!!! Holy cow!


Geographically and resource-wise, Canada is the second largest country in the world, has the 3rd largest reserves of oil and the 10th largest reserves of natural gas. At 348 million hectares, we have 9% of the world’s forest land (an area 4 times the size of Texas!). Canada is the world’s second largest producer of uranium and has the largest reserves. Canada is the world’s largest producer and exporter of potash. Canada is the 5th largest producer of gold, in the top 5 in diamond production and in the top 10 for virtually any other metal you can think of or find in a high school text book. We also have lots of Tim Horton’s stores and donuts.


Speaking of food, Canada is the 5th largest agricultural exporter in the world, and the agriculture and agri-food industry employs 2.2 million Canadians. We produce about 80% of the world’s maple syrup, and we’re one of the largest producers and exporters of flaxseed, canola, pulses and durum wheat. Our beef is without peer, sorry Texas.


On the cultural side, yes we did produce Celine Dion, Nickelback, Justin Bieber, Drake and Jim Carrey and we collectively have apologized for them repeatedly. However, we are also responsible for such cultural icons as Neil Young, Michael J. Fox, Ryan Reynolds, Leonard Cohen, Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdam, Kiefer Sutherland, Mike Myers and Seth Rogen among others. And who could forget the crown prince of Canadians hogging the spotlight south of the border – that’s right, James T. Kirk or as we know him, William f-ing Shatner!


And, of course, there’s hockey. ‘nuff said. Our sports icons are legend – Gretzky, Lemieux, Nash, Jenkins, Crosby, Howe, Roy, Fox, Wickenheiser, Parnell, Richard, Bailey, Lafleur, Lebron… OK, that last one is a lie, but he could be Canadian, right? Probably wants to be!


But we’re not just food, natural resources, entertainers, stick swingers and creators of both remarkably and questionably useful inventions. Canada is much more than that.


We are a country with world-leading innovators across virtually all industries – from finance to biotech to engineering.


We are a society and a nation built on immigration. We don’t actually care where you are from, we are more interested in what you bring.


We are inclusive and welcoming. If you can handle winter and slightly higher taxes, fill your boots!


We are governed by a fundamental belief in human rights, social justice and progressive ideals. Equality of all people and equal access to rights and liberties is fundamental to who we are. And we will fight for it.


A peace-loving nation, Canada has nonetheless participated in most of the major conflicts of the last 150 years because it was the right thing to do and our armed forces are recognized for their valour and skill.


Some people will say we are defined by our approach to health care. And notwithstanding that universal health care isn’t unique to Canada, it is hard to argue with that. While often maligned and mocked here and abroad for some of its widely known inefficiencies, our Canadian health care system is a fundamental projection of the Canadian progressive spirit, a fully funded single payer system that recognizes that universal access to affordable health care is a right. Can it be better? Sure. Can it be worse? I don’t know, is there a readily available example of a broken private health care system handy? The point is, as a country we decided that we would take care of each other’s health. And we do. And it works.


As Canadians, I believe we are among the luckiest people in the world because we get to live in the best country in the world.


We elect governments that sit on either side of the ideological divide, but never so far in either direction as to really screw it up.


And looking to the future, it is hard not to believe that Canada has some of the greatest opportunities for economic and social advancement of any country in the world.


Where am I going with this? Not some “post-national” absurd navel gazing, instead some very practical  and very Canadian “this is the way things are” pragmatism. It’s hard to miss the Canadian opportunity when you actually think about it.


As we look back and celebrate how far we have come in the 150 years that have passed since that day in Charlottetown, we need to not lose sight of how great the next 150 years can be, so that our kids and our kids’ kids can look back and tell their kids:


“See, no matter how hard they all tried to screw it up, Canada worked out just fine, eh?”


Prices as at June 30, 2017 (June 23, 2017)

  • The price of oil rallied during the week on a marginal change in sentiment.
    • Storage posted a marginal increase
    • Production was down marginally
    • The rig count in the US continues to grow
  • Natural gas was up marginally
  • WTI Crude: $46.33 ($43.15)
  • Nymex Gas: $3.041 ($2.929)
  • US/Canadian Dollar: $0.7723 ($ 0.7553)


  • As at June 23, 2017, US crude oil supplies were at 509.2 million barrels, a increase of 0.1 million barrels from the previous week and 13.3 million barrels ahead of last year.
    • The number of days oil supply in storage was 29.7, behind last year’s 31.9.
    • Production was down for the week by 100,000 barrels a day at 9.250 million barrels per day. Production last year at the same time was 8.622 million barrels per day. The change in production this week came from a decrease in Alaska deliveries and lower Lower 48 production.
    • Imports rose from 7.876 million barrels a day to 8.016, compared to 7.555 million barrels per day last year.
    • Refinery inputs were down slightly during the week but still strong at 16.890 million barrels a day
  • As at June 16, 2017, US natural gas in storage was 2.816 billion cubic feet (Bcf), which is 7% above the 5-year average and about 10% less than last year’s level, following an implied net injection of 46 Bcf during the report week.
    • Overall U.S. natural gas consumption was down 1% during the week – with decreases in power, retail, industrial and commercial demand
    • Production for the week was flat and imports from Canada were down 5% compared to the week before. Exports to Mexico were up 11%.
  • As of June 26, the Canadian rig count was 170 (27% utilization), 101 Alberta (23%), 20 BC (28%), 45 Saskatchewan (39%), 3 Manitoba (20%)). Utilization for the same period last year was just above 10%.
  • US Onshore Oil rig count at June 23 was at 756, down 2 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 184.
    • 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 flat at 21
    • Offshore rig count at January 1, 2015 was 55
  • US split of Oil vs Gas rigs is 80%/20%, in Canada the split is 56%/44%


  • Nothing major, let’s let Canada’s 150th take center stage
  • Trump Watch: Another slow news week. Wait, no, I’m wrong. Insulting tweets to the media. Misogynist bullying. In so many ways, I am glad my daughters don’t follow the news.
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