It's easy to be driven to exasperation by television. On Monday night I'm driven past the point of no return by the original reality format -- the news.On the coldest night ever recorded in March, there's John Baird, our minister of energy, telling us to conserve our consumption.
Conservation is a decent enough goal. But then he begins to warn of rolling brown- or blackouts. It's -25° C. outside, and he's considering turning off the heat? That, Mr. Baird, is a threat.
I walk through my apartment itemizing all electrical devices using power. Our consumption: two lights turned on, one refrigerator, two clock radios and the TV. That's for three people.
Perhaps I live a little less ostentatiously than my Annex neighbours. But when I look out the window, most of my neighbours have only the porch light on and have gone to bed. Their houses are dark. I can only assume that either they heard the minster or have ditched this frosty day in hopes of a better tomorrow.
In the background I hear Mr. Baird warn that there may not be energy for us when we wake up. Is he suggesting that I not add the toaster to my extensive consumption list?
Perhaps it's not me that he is trying to threaten. Would he be speaking to all those energy-efficient suburbs around the city, because that's his constituency?
No. It wouldn't do to threaten the two-cars-in-every-drive types, with a spring election looming. They're more interested in burning gas, and the markets have taken the fun out of that.
Perhaps the minister is referring to industry. Everyone knows that industry is the largest consumer of electrical energy. He might very well be suggesting that major manufacturing plants slow production of whatever widget they make. Is he saying the economy should slow down?
Everyone but the Eves government seems to remember the dire predictions concerning the privatization of energy.
The salt in this wound is that they're effectively using our tax money to pay for the remainder of an electricity bill that they made higher. Either way, you pay.
So what the hell is Baird talking about? The only possible answer is that after so many screw-ups, the Tories have fallen back on what they do well. They threaten well.