Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with B.C. Premier John Horgan at a pre-election announcement in Vancouver, Aug. 29, 2019. (B.C. government)

B.C.’s 13-cent gasoline gap still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

B.C. gasoline prices are still higher than other parts of the country, Premier John Horgan says, and he intends to ask Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help find out why.

Horgan was asked about gasoline prices Tuesday, after the B.C. Utilities Commission released a follow-up report on its investigation into the province’s motor fuel market. That report, by independent experts who regulate electrical and natural gas utilities and ICBC, continues to describe an “unexplained difference of 10 to 13 cents per litre” for gasoline.

The commission said the extension to allow more submissions from fuel companies after last summer’s hearings didn’t resolve the reason for pump prices running higher than neighbouring Alberta and Washington state, and there still hadn’t been time to drill down into the dynamics of wholesale sources.

Gasoline prices in B.C.’s Lower Mainland dropped sharply last week, and by Tuesday pump prices in Surrey were hovering around $1.40 per litre according to monitoring service GasBuddy.com.

RELATED: Metro Vancouver gasoline prices drop by up to 15 cents

RELATED: Inquiry finds B.C. prices higher, but reasons are unclear

Horgan said the utilities commission was the appropriate first step in seeking answers. It was prevented from examining taxes, environmental regulations or other B.C. government actions that may contribute to higher prices. If the B.C. commission has done all it can, Horgan said Ottawa’s watchdog, Competition Bureau Canada, has the legal tools to protect consumers.

“[The BCUC] did that in the summer, and it highlighted about a 13 cent-a-litre increase, or a gouge, on local drivers, which translates into hundreds of millions of dollars and more, out of the pockets of the travelling public of the Lower Mainland and British Columbia versus other locations,” Horgan said at an event in Richmond Tuesday.

“I’m going to reinforce this [gasoline price gap] with the prime minister when I meet with him,” Horgan said. “The federal government has an ability to look at competition in markets. Clearly there’s something wrong with the gas market in British Columbia, and we want to get to the bottom of that.”

Trudeau is meeting premiers as he prepares to announce the cabinet for his minority government. He met Tuesday with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, one of four premiers who are challenging the Liberal government’s national carbon tax as an intrusion into provincial jurisdiction over natural resource production.

Horgan said his government will be presenting its own proposed solution in the B.C. legislature, which resumes sitting next week until the end of November. And he hinted that his meeting with Trudeau will continue to press the B.C. NDP’s opposition to expanding the Trans Mountain oil pipeline as it resumes construction.

“It’s not just about supply, although we need more gasoline,” Horgan said. “We need less diluted bitumen. That won’t move your automobile, but gasoline will, and we only have the one refinery in Burnaby.”

B.C. also has a second refinery in Prince George that processes natural gas liquids into motor fuels.

The B.C. Liberal opposition resumed its political battle over gasoline prices, which has included “Blame John Horgan” billboards placed for viewing by Metro Vancouver commuters.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson issued a statement saying the NDP government “rigged” the BCUC review to avoid looking at its own policies, such as opposing the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline that brings refined fuel as well as crude oil from Alberta to B.C.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Santa Claus coming to Tofino and Ucluelet

Two pancake breakfast events on Saturday.

Aid a priority for idled Vancouver Island loggers, John Horgan says

Steelworkers, Western Forest Products returning to mediation

COLUMN: Zero Waste Holidays, is it possible?

Kristen O’Keefe and Diane Rudge co-own The Den Ucluelet, a zero waste soap dispensary and refillery.

Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP Gord Johns says Scheer’s resignation not surprising

Pressure is on NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, as the lone major party leader remaining in the opposition

Ucluelet Aquarium celebrates “best” season to date

“We had some wonderful, really engaged visitors,” said curator Laura Griffith Cochrane.

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

The Conservatives have a Toronto convention already scheduled for April

Most Read