Stuff Happens, week 31: Oil falls, gas goes up … again.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog (and if you are, ask yourself why), you’ve probably grown tired of my ranting about Big Oil’s rip off of the Canadian consumer. From the Globe and Mail, a little proof: “Crude prices have tanked since early May, but gasoline prices have remained stubbornly high. The leading international benchmark, North Sea Brent, fell to $50 (U.S.) per barrel last week from $69 on May 1 – a drop of 28 per cent. But the average Canadian pump price actually rose over that period by three cents to $1.17.6 per litre last week, according to a survey done by Kent Group Ltd. Crude prices are 50-per-cent lower than last year, while the average pump price last week was down a mere 10 per cent, from $1.31.1 in the first week of August, 2014. Refining and marketing margins in Canada were 10 cents per litre higher as of July 21 than for the corresponding period last year, Natural Resources Canada reports.” Translation: we’re getting screwed. And just to add fuel to the fire (sorry) comes this week’s 15 cent a litre increase. The reason: a refinery went off-line in the Chicago area, resulting in an IMMEDIATE jump in the cost of gas in WESTERN CANADA in anticipation of a shortage. Yes, gasoline that was manufactured who knows how long ago went up 15 cents a litre overnight because of something that MIGHT happen. OK, I’m done with rants about oil. Seriously, I promise this is the last one …. until the next time.

CBC reporter Megan Batchelor was doing a live report from a music festival in Squamish, B.C. when a man planted a quick kiss on her cheek, took a selfie, and ran off. Summertime silliness at a concert, right? Nope. Ms. Batchelor said she was “rattled” by the incident, and the CBC asked the RCMP to investigate the “incident”. Yes, it’s an incident. There was, you may remember, the case of the idiot who screamed a vile vulgarity at a female reporter in Toronto earlier this year; the guy was ID’d and lost his job. But this? Turns out the guy came forward (he’s 17), and apologized. But really, have we gotten to the point where a silly little impulse is enough to “rattle” a TV reporter and serious enough to call in the cops?

On a much more serious crime note, have you heard of fentanyl? If not, you should.

Fentanyl is a painkiller, but calling it a painkiller is like saying Michelangelo was pretty good with a pen. Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine, and is not something you should play with for a quick high; an overdose as small as a grain of salt can result in death. But illegal fentanyl is flooding Canadian cities. Sometimes it is sold as Oxycontin, a very powerful (but often abused) painkiller, and frequently turns up at concerts, where it is sold to teens and young adults. A report released this week says between 2009-14, fentanyl killed 655 Canadians, and the numbers are soaring. In BC, there were 90 deaths in 2014, and 60 this year alone. Here in Alberta, there were six deaths in 2011 — and 120 last year. In Edmonton, there have been 36 deaths from fentanyl this year; in Calgary, that number is 45.  If we had 36 murders in Edmonton this year, we’d be up in arms. But 36 drug overdose deaths? Just one of those things, I guess.

The Mike Duffy trial continued this week, with testimony from former Harper chief of staff Nigel Wright. Wright, who gave Duffy $90,000 that he owed the government apparently out of the goodness of his heart, continued to assert that Harper knew nothing of the payment. But it stretches credulity to believe that Harper, the most controlling prime minister in this country’s history, wasn’t involved. Now, Harper’s current chief of staff is being drawn into the scandal, and he’s making the claim that he just didn’t read emails from Wright regarding the Duffy payment. It’s looking more and more that there won’t be a single, explosive revelation that will bring down Harper (dammit), but there is a good chance the steady drip, drip, drip of revelations of the Harper teams lies and deceit will wear down the Teflon Harper wears.

RIP: Frank Gifford, 84, NFL hall of famer, husband of Kathy Lee Gifford, and former Monday Night Football announcer for 27 years.

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