Which right wing Canadian party would you rather vote for?

Friday, June 8, 2007

Stephen Harper = Normal Guy

Stephen Harper is actually a pretty normal Canadian guy.

Like most normal guys Harper is: Christian, homophobic, stuck in his ways, stubborn, has 2 children and is an avid hockey fan. He also collects records of AC/DC and the Beatles.

If anything Harper is... quite boring. And very nerdish. He worked as a computer programmer during his 20s for an oil and gas company and later studied a masters degree in economics.

So he knows his numbers. He's a bean counter and he still maintains his close ties to the oil and gas industries.

He didn't even really want to be Prime Minister of Canada. He preferred to be the puppet-master telling old Preston Manning what to say and do and wrote speeches and ideologies for the Reform Party in his early days in politics.

A strong economy needs 3 things: Safety/Stability, cheap and ample supply of food for the masses, and affordable transportation for transferring goods/foods and people to and fro.

Oil and gasoline does play a very important part in Canada's prosperity. As a cheap commodity (thanks to subsidies it costs less to buy a litre of gasoline than it does for a litre of water). It allows us to transport food at cheap costs and bring cheap food quickly and easily to the masses.

It also allows us to transport other trade goods such as automotives, fashion, furniture and the like. Keeping the prices low = less cost for the consumer and more profit for the seller.

So logically one would think that using hybrid cars to keep costs down seems like a logical conclusion. Assuming of course that the car in question is affordable, has very good gas mileage and only marginally more expensive than a regular car.

For example if you were driving a 450 horsepower Lexus GS Hybrid and paid $77,000 for a new one you're not really saving any money. Its got a tonne of horsepower and torque that a lambo from the 1980s would be jealous of.

On the other hand you could also buy a 187 horsepower Toyota Camry for $31,000, still get tonnes of umph for your pleasure and the same fuel efficiency as a tiny Yaris.

As a typical boring nerd Stephen Harper probably doesn't know a lot about cars. He may know a fair bit about oil, gasoline and economics... but methinks he doesn't understand cars very well.

I lean towards Jaguars, Aston Martins and Mustangs myself. I've long had a dream of owning a gas guzzling 1970s powerhouse of a car... and sticking a hydrogen fuel cell engine in it to prove a point.

My father has a 1973 Plymouth Duster in green (he didn't like purple or orange so he went with puke green) that has been rotting in his shed since 1985. The car hasn't run in over 20 years. Fortunately he filled the engine with diesel to preserve it so it doesn't rust. It just needs to be cleaned out, replace anything that has been ruined, a lot of bodywork and a new paint job... that photo on the right is not the same car, but it is what it would have looked like when it was brand new.

For me however I'd be very tempted to just toss the engine out. Sell it for scrap. Fix the car up, stick a hydrogen fuel cell engine inside it, paint it cherry red or glossy black... and then take a vacation across Canada with it.

My reasoning? Thanks to the previous Liberal government there is a growing network across Canada of hydrogen fuel cell technology and ways to refuel a car that runs on that technology. Basically the idea is that people will be able to refill their cars with fuel anywhere they can find electricity.

Because all that is needed to collect and store hydrogen is electricity and water.

So the only real trick to this is how much will it cost to refill the car using hydrogen gathered using electricity, and how much will the electricity itself cost? And where is that electricity coming from? Coal plants?

Coal-burning electrical plants are the cause of roughly one quarter of Canada's greenhouse gases. More coal plants would hardly be good for the environment.

An important point is that coal isn't cheap. It cost the Ontario government 9 cents per kWh to make coal power, but they only sell it for 6 cents/kWh. Ontario taxpayers pay for the other 3 cents. Other sources of power are comparatively cheaper.

My hope is that someday I will be able to drive my "gas guzzling" car from the 1970s across Canada thanks to a network of cheap/environmentally friendly electricity.

Which I admit makes it sound like I'm some kind of freaking hippie. But I'm not. Like Stephen Harper I also like hockey, economics and I am a little homophobic (most guys are). But at least I'm not too stubborn and stuck in my ways to realize change is coming whether I like it or not and I am willing to embrace that change.

So when I say I hate Stephen Harper the truth is I don't "hate hate" the guy. I just don't like how stubborn he is and I don't agree with a lot of his policies. Especially his more wacko Christian ideas like bringing prayer back to public schools.

In short... I miss Brian Mulroney and the old Progressive Conservative party. At least then we'd have a government which was progressive with the environment instead of trying to ignore it.

I'd vote for Mulroney again given the chance.