It’s been a glorious week of sunny December weather, cold and bright and the reflection of the sun is sparkling off the waters of Howe Sound. The tops of the mountains are frosted and the only sounds are the screeching of the gulls and the crunch of the gravel under my feet. I hold on to moments like this but I know there is trouble in this vale of tears and laughter and my friend Campbell, Camp to all of us, didn’t disappoint.
“GM is laying off 2500 workers in Oshawa; Alberta is crying about the dismal price for their heavy crude; ‘tariff man’ is treating desperate migrants in Tijuana worse than feral dogs; the world’s climate is changing much too fast, the financial markets are in free fall and nothing seems stable,” Camp lamented as soon as Vicky put two foaming mugs in front of us.
“It’s a fast changing world out there,” I said, reaching for clichées, “and the old union jobs that got passed on from father to son are disappearing like snow in the sun. I guess the same goes for Canada Post, which will probably not exist in another 20 years. I used to have a friend that was a typesetter back in the seventies and his entire job was replaced by computers.”
“Exactly, it’s the old world that many people are desperate to hold onto, or even want to go back to and this new world is hard to get used to.”
We both paused and concentrated on our beers.
“What about Alberta and its oil sands. They’re producing 38 million barrels per year, twice what they put out just 10 years ago,” I said.
“Well, there is a world wide glut on oil and the Americans are a net exporter now and can turn on and off their fracking on a whim. A lot cheaper infra structure than the oil sand extraction requires. Also there are the pariahs like Venezuela and Iran with vast reserves, not to mention Alaska,” Camp said.
“But at the same time we have the Chinese gearing up for electric cars and carbon neutral power production as well as the US car makers like GM changing their whole line-up towards fully electric cars. I’m not so sure if we need all this oil.”
“We need oil for plastics, fibre, bitumen for roads and tires, fuel for ships and plains, as well as a few million cars that won’t go away and most small island nations depend on diesel for their power supplies, and with the increased demand for electricity – due in part to electric cars – we need to produce more of it, hopefully from renewable resources,” Camp said, taking a long swallow from his pint, “and we need to get the oil shipments off the rail and into pipes and cap the production levels at current levels.”
“Spoken like a true politician,” I said.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Camp said laconically. “Our local problems are far less dramatic but equally important. I’ll mention three things: Water, Air and Land management.”
“That about sums up everything.”
“Vicky brought our second round and asked Camp: “Did I see you at the gym the other day? Were you just checking out the action or did you actually do some exercise? “
Camp almost snorted out his beer and then tried to hide a coughing fit. Now it was my turn to raise an eyebrow.
“Well, Muriel thinks I should eh… do some physical activity besides lifting books and beer,” Camp said, giving me a dirty look that said: “Don’t you dare.”
“I’m just not sure what’s right for me. It all looks like self inflicted torture.”
“It wouldn’t hurt,” I said instead of what I really wanted to say which was: I’d love to see you in spandex with a headband on a treadmill, but Vicky can apparently read our minds.
“You’d look good in active wear,” she said, leaving Camp speechless, which is in itself unusual.
“Maybe a little shopping spree at Lulu Lemon is in order.” I said, enjoying myself at my friend’s expense. “Out with the old Camp in yesterday’s clothes, in with the new, urban cowboy in leisure fashion outfits.”
“I knew it. That’s what I said to Muriel. It’s not about feeling good; it’s about looking good. I can do that here at the pub.”
“You should join me on a walk along the shore or maybe a hike up Soames Hill. I think the outdoors is the best gym. Mind you, in these dark and rainy winters, a little indoor activity wouldn’t hurt,” I said. “Would feel good to get in shape.”
“That presupposes that I’m out of shape. Not everybody is a jock, “ Camp said. “I’m just a sedentary fellow, content to sit on the sidelines and watch other people making fools of themselves.”
“Let’s just admit it, we both look our best sitting at the bar,” I said and we drank to that.