Ryan Pollard notes (and praises) the NDP reaction to oil prices, which is to blame them on oil company collusion:
They Hate Us For Our Freedoms: Layton: Oil co.s colluding: Gas and home heating oil prices are going to be a national emergency, I bet. Our own oil people, and your neighbour who buys oil futures, are going to make, I'm going to predict, a literal killing off of the misery of poor and working class Canadians.
I've been thinking and reading up on this matter for a few weeks, and while I'm certainly not going to discount the effects of corporate practices on oil prices, I've also come to the conclusion that there are benefits to speculation in futures. That's because commodity futures speculation has a property that other kids of speculation perhaps do not, or at least it has it in greater measure. That property is the extent to which it is tied to future physical events: actual projections of oil supply rates, which determine, really, whether the speculator is going to win or lose money, particularly on the longer-term contracts.
At the moment it looks like we are starting to suffer real physical supply problems as proven, easily available oil reserves (meaning the light sweet crude in the ground) appear to have reached peak production and may indeed be starting to decline. So in this the speculators may be performing a useful role in raising the price: prices raised now means that demand drops means that depletion rates slow means that future prices don't have to rise as much as they otherwise would means slightly lesser effects from Peak Oil over the long term.
Now you may argue that this is going to hurt the most vulnerable first, and you would be right. But arguing for price and speculation controls may not be the best way to go about this sort of thing: taxing everyone else to subsidize weaker consumers is what I think the NDP should be pushing for instead.
You may also argue, more strongly, that oil dependence should be dealt with through democratic processes (as embodied in the government) and not via futures markets. Many Peak Oilers say that by the time the price rises enough to make it worth it to the private sector to invest in alternatives, we would have crossed the Rubicon, so to speak: prices would accelerate at that point at a rate that would quickly make the necessary investments too expensive. And, naturally, it is always prudent to wean yourself off limited resources as soon as possible in any case.
However, we (and in particular the US) lost that opportunity likely a while ago, and we have to throw ourselves on the mercy of speculators and hope that the libertarians are right.