As one among the 29% of Canadians who, really, couldn’t care less about the increase in prices at the pump, I read the Canwest story “Pent-up anger unites nation” feeling like I imagine separatists do when Canadian nationalists bemoan the possibly imminent departure of Quebec:
According to a new poll by Ipsos Reid, carried out for Canwest News Service and Global Television, 71 per cent of Canadians are “really angry or upset” about gas prices.
In my experience, many drivers feel really angry about gas prices no matter what the prices are. They also complain a lot about paying for parking. And then, when they can’t take it any more and move to public transit, they complain about poor service and “sardine-like” conditions. (Apparently there is some special Canadian packaging for sardines that I’ve yet to see that has a few fish almost touching at either end of the package, with an inexplicable unused space of about 12 centimetres in between. Sounds interesting — I’ll have to keep my eye out for it.)
If that were all that Canadians felt mad about, it’s certainly not news. But apparently, the dark northern rage is more serious than that:
Of the 1,022 people surveyed in the poll, 62 per cent say they’re angry about inaction on environmental issues, 53 per cent are angry about taxes, 51 per cent are upset about neighbourhood crime and 47 per cent are upset by Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.
Does anyone else find the anger about environmental issues somewhat at odds with the fury about gas prices? Just me? And given that fewer and fewer Canadians are actually experiencing neighbourhood crime, the anger they feel about it seems… well… misdirected?
20% of the respondents overall were angry and committed to acting upon their anger, while another 35% of respondents were mad, but, I guess, can take it indefinitely, because they don’t think there’s anything they can do. Ipsos-Reid vice-president John Wright thinks that’s “deeply concerning”: “It’s like having natural gas in the air, and if there’s a spark of some kind, it can explode.”
Oooh, explode. That sounds alarming. What happens when dull-edged Canadian survey participants explode, I wonder? Maybe something like this, from an anecdote further on in the story:
In 2004, when gas prices were still under $1 per litre but rising fast, [Terry] Blake decided to make a statement.
He drove to a nearby station, pumped $25 worth of fuel and gave the attendant only $20 — saying that’s what the gas was really worth.
The woman said to me, ‘Don’t do this.’ I said, ‘I’m doing it. You’ll probably call the police, but give me 10 or 15 minutes to get away. If they want to come and get me, that’s fine.’ ”
The Ontario Provincial Police said he’d be arrested if he didn’t hand over the remaining $5, which he later did. But Blake had made his point, and soon he was being interviewed on television and radio stations as far away as California.
Scary stuff indeed.