Crude Observations

Vote Smart and Often!


So if last week was a time for giving thanks, this week is shaping up to be something completely different.  That’s right. It’s Debbie-downer time, otherwise known as time for my bold and completely detached from reality Canadian election prediction.


That’s right. The Canadian federal election campaign is finally coming to an end and, as the self-proclaimed “most important election in history”, it deserves a fitting send off. Given that, I think we can all agree that there is nothing more fitting than this esteemed blog and blogger passing judgment on the campaign and the campaigners and sparing you the suspense, telling you exactly what to expect on Monday.


First off, how did we get here? It has been a long and tortuous journey, filled with many twists and turns, controversies and startling revelations. Some candidates have risen in the public mindset while others have seen their lustre fade. Others have fought for relevance while still others have enjoyed renewed interest.


When the campaign started, it all seemed so straightforward. Justin Trudeau and the Liberals would duke it out with Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party of Canada while the other parties sat back and hoped to pick up some bits and pieces along the way.


This was because when the writ was dropped some 40 days ago, Canada was doing fine. We were humming along, the economy was OK, the election issues were relatively straight forward and it was business as usual – pretend to care about the West, trade jabs in Eastern Canada, hope Ontario likes your platform and cruise to a win.


But a funny thing happened on the way to the ballot box, except much of it wasn’t actually that funny. Let’s review some the greatest hits.


Yearbook Photo-op!


The first shoe to drop was the Trudeau “blackface” scandal wherein it was revealed that in his younger years and up til he was 29, our very own multi-culti uber feminist racial justice warrior and apologizer in chief Justin Trudeau had on multiple occasions appeared in blackface in order to … well I just don’t know. The pictures speak for themselves. This is clearly a Justin Trudeau thing and there was to be no hiding from it. While a contrite Trudeau immediately apologized and acknowledged a privilege-induced blind spot to the harm such actions could cause, there is really no excuse for this and many expected that the political damage could be so great as to cause the young Trudeau to step down. No such luck for the conservatives as the polling numbers barely changed. But the rot was there and, like the moldy strawberry in a non recyclable tetra pak, it spreads.


Conservative Scandals!


Not to be outdone by the Liberal blackface fiasco, the Conservative Party managed to trip itself up with a smoking gun scandal of their own as it was revealed that, horrors, CPC leader Andrew Scheer was not so much an insurance broker prior to becoming an MP, but was rather in training to become a broker. The shock of this revelation was quickly followed up by a controversy surrounding what institution actually granted Mr. Scheer his degree – was it the University of Ottawa where he took the bulk of his classes or the University of Regina where he completed his course-load after moving and transferring credits back and forth. The Horror!!!


Of course, since we know all scandals come in threes (there were after all three blackface photos (that we know of)) there was one more and this was the piece de resistance. That’s right, the full calamity was brought to bear when it was revealed that the man who would be prime minister actually held dual citizenship between Canada and a country so horrific that he should be immediately disqualified. That’s right – Andrew Scheer has dual Canadian/US citizenship. While he has indicated that he is in the process of renouncing his US citizenship, this revelation is, in the eyes of the Liberal partisanry at least, the equivalent of Scheer saying that he is a card-carrying member of the Trump inner sanctum.


Note to American readers – yes, this is considered scandalous here. I don’t know how we would cope with something like the Ukrainian Shakedown – probably just give up and wind down the country.


The Rise of the NDP promise machine


After the scandals broke, it was clear that the election had turned into an all-out war and we headed into the busy debate section of the campaign, which consisted of two debates (one in English and one in French) over a four-day period.


It was during these debates that a party previously left for dead was resurrected by the inspired performance of their leader Jagmeet Singh. That’s right, Jagmeet (who I swear had dropped out of the race) won the English debate easily with a mix of intelligence, wit and a calm demeanour. Actually, he won the debate by not being Andrew Scheer or Justin Trudeau. I may not agree with all the NDP policy platform, but it was refreshing to have someone so articulate on stage. Of course it’s easy to be “the voice of reason” when you are the third party in the land and have no hope of forming government so you can stand on the sidelines and lob in promises of fully funded pharmacare and universal dental plans without regard for what they may actually cost or how to implement them or whether they are even allowed under the Health Canada Act  – pshaw, details! Free Stuff! Vote for me! Forgive interest on student debt! Pipeline vetos!


This NDP promise machine, which is much like those T-shirt launchers at a sportsball event, did serve a purpose though, it shook a large bloc of left-leaning voters from their lethargic, semi-vegetative state that Trudeau had put them in and told them that they could indeed park their votes somewhere aside from the Liberals.


These guys again?


Not to be outdone in the debates, we saw the glorious return to the national consciousness of the Bloc Quebecois, a party once thought extinct. Hah! Think again suckers. Much like the Terminator, this party keeps coming and won’t stop. As Quebec soured on the Liberals and the effete Trudeau, the tide turned to the Bloc. So much so that the Bloc leader handily won the French language debate, notwithstanding a spirited showing by the aforementioned and re-energized Jagmeet Singh.


To me, the Bloc Quebecois has a mavericity that is downright Albertan and is relentless in its single-minded pursuit of Quebec’s interests at the expense of all other regions. This of course drives everyone outside of Quebec completely batty and no doubt amuses Quebecers to keep poking the federal government in the eye by having so many seats held by a party that doesn’t actually want to be there.


Emergence of a sock


No, not Justin Trudeau’s socks. I’m talking about something much older and potentially smellier. I’m talking about Ed the Sock. Yes, Ed the Sock who used to be so entertaining on Much Music back in the late ‘90s and early 2000’s, in particular his Fromage show where he ripped apart pop culture and music videos. Well he’s back and he’s angry and he’s politically active and guess what, he’s a Justin Trudeau fanboy/fansock. If you had told me in 2000 that Ed the Sock would be a guest on a major network on election night I would have told you – I just don’t actually know.





It didn’t take long for the election to become all climate all the time. Carbon tax here, regulations there, sprinkle in a little economic suicide by advocating shutting down the oil sands, some apocalyptic fear mongering by Canada’s purported intelligentsia (Margaret Atwood – please stick to books) all mixed with paranoia and terror and what do we have? Impending doom and disaster. An emergency. A crisis. And not one party with a truly credible plan to do anything about it that doesn’t involve shooting ourselves in the face, taxing us, secretly taxing us, doing all three or hoping for a unicorn to fly in and deliver us from our evil fossil fuelling ways.


Look, climate matters but it’s not the only thing. All that the noise about climate did was sideline important policy debates about other issues that matter, like the economy, foreign affairs, health care, education… I really don’t know where some of the parties stand on these issues. But hey, who cares about that, I want my photo op with Greta.




The final point I want to make before informing everyone about what it is going to happen is the dreaded “C” word, which of course is the bane of any major party and the Holy Grail of the fringe, the dreaded “coalition”. Canada’s parliamentary seat distribution reality is that the right side of the road occupies about 40% while the left side occupies the other 60%. As the Liberals slide and the NDP ascends the 60% just rearranges itself and the balance of power almost always resides to the left of the Liberal party. This means that the fear on the conservative side is that they may win more seats than the Liberals but not enough to form a majority and that the parties on the left can gang up on them with the hammer residing in some fringe party with an unreasonable demand for their base. Fortunately, the Liberals and the NDP despise each other, but the Liberals love power so it is conceivable to see a coalition form around a Liberal minority which I think any sentient being would call an “abomination”. Note that the Conservatives have no natural coalition options, notwithstanding (heh) that the Bloc Quebecois is basically the spin-off of the Quebec wing of the Progressive Conservatives. This means that any coalition favours the left side of the political calculus and is a major talking point in the last few days of the campaign. Coalitions aren’t bad in and of themselves and work in many jurisdictions. It’s the conditions for participation that make them bad. A Liberal/NDP or Liberal/Green coalition of convenience is quite likely to break the federation.


Okay. That’s the groundwork. Now on to the good stuff.


First, let’s revisit the parties using the handy table I prepared before the election writ dropped, updated for recent events. Then I will make my prediction.


Liberal Party of Canada. (the current government)

Leader:                 Justin Trudeau

Slogan:                 Choose forward

Likes:                    Spending. Power. Vote-rich regions that keep them in power. The Middle class and those working hard to get there. Socks. Costumes. Apologizing. Blackface. Greta.

Dislikes:               Stephen Harper. Stephen Harper. Oil. Stephen Harper. Conservatives in general. Alberta (so we’re told)

Claim to Fame: Balanced the budget. Nice socks. Decent economy. Always very remorseful. Building a pipeline for Alberta. Canada’s natural governing partyTM

Achilles Heel:    Arrogance. Lying. SNC Lavalin. Hypocrisy. Building a pipeline for Alberta. Blackface.

Conservative Party of Canada. (official opposition)

Leader:                 Andrew Scheer

Slogan:                 It’s time for you to get ahead

Likes:                    Cutting taxes. Cutting spending. The energy sector. Pipelines. Stephen Harper. Chocolate Milk.

Dislikes:               SNC Lavalin. Liberals. Canada Food Guide. Bills C69 and C48. Taxes, especially if they are carbon.

Claim to Fame: Didn’t screw up the country during the Great Recession. Capable government in waiting and nowhere near as extreme as people make them out to be

Achilles Heel:    Social conservative influence in the party. Stephen Harper. Brokergate. Universitygate. Dog tail gate. Passportgate.

New Democratic Party.

Leader:                 Jagmeet Singh

Slogan:                 In it for you

Likes:                    Taxes on rich people (loosely defined), Pharmacare. Dental plan. Social programs. The environment. Immigration.

Dislikes:               Energy. Stephen Harper. Spending cuts. The vote-stealing Green Party.

Claim to Fame: Official Opposition when the Liberals got eviscerated in 2011. The ghost of Jack Layton (sadly fading). Cool as cucumber leader.

Achilles Heel:    Lacklustre campaign. Perceived as not caring about Canada outside of GTA and GVA. Lost the union vote a long time ago.

Green Party of Canada.

Leader:                 Elizabeth May

Slogan:                 Forward together

Likes:                    The environment (duh). The spotlight.

Dislikes:               Oil and gas (icky), industry, the economy, Israel, Canada (apparently), Muslims, pipelines

Claim to Fame: Plucky up and coming party that is finally polling at 10% and might make a breakthrough to become the balance of power in a minority situation

Achilles Heel:    Polling at 10% which means that people have now read their absurd economy killing fantasy platform.

People’s Party of Canada.

Leader:                 Maxime Bernier

Slogan:                 Strong and Free

Likes:                    Maxime Bernier. Protectionism. Pandering to all the ‘phobes they can

Dislikes:               Immigration. If you’re from somewhere else – probably you. Andrew Scheer

Claim to Fame: Hiding place for alt-right racists, disaffected conservatives who haven’t figured out the first point. A leader who almost won the Conservative party leadership race.

Achilles Heel:    A satirical party has put up a candidate named Maxime Bernier to run against the leader, Maxime Bernier in the only riding they have a chance of winning, so it’s a toss-up as to whether his misguided supporters will be able to tick the right box. Oh, and the racism.

Bloc Quebecois (those guys)

Leader:                 Yves-François Blanchet

Slogan:                 Le Québec, c’est nous

Likes:                    Quebec. Quebec. Quebec. Bill 21.

Dislikes:               Immigration. The Rest of Canada. Pipelines.

Claim to Fame: Still relevant even though support for Quebec sovereignty is at generational lows. Mavericity.

Achilles Heel:    A wasted vote if you want to make a difference federally. Oh, and the implicit racism.




I have parsed the numbers. I have done the calculus. I have my opinion.


The Conservative Party of Canada has run a steady campaign. They are nowhere near as evil as the Liberals would make them out to be. Their support in Western Canada is rock solid but they need Ontario to break right for them and some gains in Quebec and the Maritimes to win.


The Liberals are of course the self styled natural governing party of (central) Canada and have run a successful demonization campaign against a pretty non-threatening conservative candidate. They have sacrificed seats in British Columbia to press a pipeline that is in the national interest and have presided over a resurgent economy in Ontario and Quebec. But they have a compromised leader and are bleeding support to the NDP.


The NDP is resurgent at the expense of the Liberals and should return to respectability in BC and make inroads in Ontario.


The Green Party has close to 10% support and in a proportional representation scenario would matter, but as it stands, they are not a real threat to anyone except NDP candidates on Vancouver Island.


The Bloc has re-emerged as a force because the Liberals are a fail in Quebec, the Conservatives are weak with Francophones and the Bloc has Albertan-style mavericity. If the support holds, this is the big story of the election.


The PPC are what they are. Racist, xenophobic.


There are 199 of 338 seats in Quebec and Ontario and 32 in the Maritimes. The Conservatives are likely to get 60 seats in Western Canada and have 40 seats in Ontario and Quebec and thus require 70 additional seats to form a majority.


The Liberals are likely to have 30 seats in the Maritimes and a lock on an additional 70 seats in Central Canada (25 in Toronto!).


If the Bloc has 30 locked up in Quebec and the NDP holds at least its 30-40 this means there are likely no more than 60 seats up for grabs, making it mathematically impossible for either major party to secure a majority unless the votes break decisively against the polls in the next 3 days.


This election will likely be over before I even vote here in Calgary. And it’s going to be a Liberal plurality but not a majority. And I suspect we are back to the polls sometime in 2021 and at least one major party if not all three will have new leaders.


Final tally:


Liberals               137

Conservatives    124

NDP                     43

Bloc                      30

Green                    2

Independent       2

PPC – thanks for playing, now go away.


Liberal Minority.


What does it mean? Well that’s for next week. But at least there is no abomination coalition needing to be formed and the damn pipeline goes ahead.


Prices as at October 18, 2019

  • Oil prices are down for the week and it’s been a hell of a ride.
    • Storage posted an increase week over week
    • Production was flat
    • Rig Counts: Alberta flat; US down week over week
    • Natural gas storage down relative to 5-year avg, but remains higher than this point last year
  • WTI Crude: $53.67 ($54.71)
  • Western Canada Select: $36.72 ($41.32)
  • AECO Spot: $1.684 ($1.593)
  • NYMEX Gas: 2.352 ($2.214)
  • US/Canadian Dollar: $0.7612 ($0.7589)



  • As at October 11, 2019, US crude oil supplies were at 434.9 million barrels, an increase of 9.3 million barrels from the previous week and 18.4 million barrels above last year.
    • The number of days oil supply in storage is 27.3 compared to 25.4 last year at this time.
    • Production was flat for the week at 12.600 million barrels per day. Production last year at the same time was 10.900 million barrels per day.
    • Imports rose to 6.295 million barrels from 6.224 million barrels per day compared to 7.615 million barrels per day last year.
    • Exports from the US fell to 3.276 million barrels per day from 3.401 million barrels per day last week compared to 1.782 million barrels per day a year ago
    • Canadian exports to the US were 3.276 million barrels a day
    • Refinery inputs fell during the during the week to 15,436 million barrels per day
  • As at October 11, 2019, US natural gas in storage was 3.519 billion cubic feet (Bcf), which is about the 5-year average and about 16% higher than last year’s level, following an implied net injection of 104 Bcf during the report week
    • Overall U.S. natural gas consumption was down 1% during the report week.
    • Production was flat for the week. Imports from Canada fell by 6% from the week before. Exports to Mexico fell 3% for the week
    • LNG exports totaled 35 Bcf
  • As of October 18, 2019, the Canadian rig count was down 3 at 143 (AB – 95; BC – 10; SK – 34; MB – 3; Other – 2). Rig count for the same period last year was 213.
  • US Onshore Oil rig count at October 18, 2019 is at 713, up 1 from the week prior.
    • Peak rig count was October 10, 2014 at 1,609
  • Natural gas rigs drilling in the United States was down 6 at 136.
    • 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 down 2 at 21.
    • Offshore peak rig count at January 1, 2015 was 55

US split of Oil vs Gas rigs is 83%/17%, in Canada the split is 69%/31%


Trump Watch: Syria. G7 self-enrichment.

Kenney Watch (new!): No invite for Greta. Presumably voting.

Trudeau Watch (for balance): Election baby!

Crude Observations
Sign up for the Stormont take on the latest industry news »

Recent Posts