Did Surrey-Whalley NDP MLA Bruce Ralston wave a white flag when he told us that cutting fuel taxes to lower gas prices would only create a price gap that gas companies would then fill?
Because if he did, that’s raising a red flag for us. It suggests perhaps government cannot effectively regulate skyrocketing prices at the pump.
Now B.C.’s minister of energy, mines and low carbon innovation, Ralston said in 2019, following the conclusion of a BC Utilities Commission investigation into gas prices, that British Columbians were being “ripped off” at the pumps.
But gas prices today, as any commuter knows too well, have since soared much higher.
Ralston told the Now-Leader recently that if the government removed fuel tax, gas companies would “just fill that and take the money for themselves.”
The Surrey MLA cited “a very good example” contained in the utilities commission’s most recent report comparing gas prices in Squamish with those in West Vancouver, where motorists pay TransLink 17.5 cents a litre whereas in Squamish they don’t.
“And guess what the gas prices in Squamish are? They’re higher than in West Vancouver,” he noted. “So they just fill it in, and they just take the money.”
Hopefully the government has some kind of tool in its box to regulate gas prices. The puny one-time $110 rebate it is offering motorists, however, in an attempt to compensate for the financial drubbing we’re all taking at the gas pumps does not inspire confidence.