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Pipeline fight to set gas prices | Kelowna Daily Courier

Premier John Horgan was fully prepped over the course of the legislative sittings last year about how to respond to questions about rising gas prices.

They started to skyrocket early in the year. That obviously prompts complaints, and complaints always find their way to question period, along the lines of: What are you going to do about this, and why haven’t you done something already? So there was a long briefing note at the ready throughout last spring, should the topic arise.

It came up only once. Horgan and the Opposition batted it around for a few minutes, inconclusively.

With gas in the $1.50-a-litre range, Horgan was pressed for his views.

“Very, very concerned as we go into the travelling months … unacceptably high … supply and demand.”

He said if there were any evidence of price-gouging, the government wanted to hear about it, but: “We do not believe that at this time there are many options available to us.”

Prices started to drop and the issue faded. But portions of the briefing note surfaced this week via a freedom-of-information request. With a lot more oil politics to play out this year, it might become even more relevant.

It’s a lengthy treatise on gas prices that concludes the government of B.C. would be better off not getting involved in trying to regulate or control prices, because it doesn’t work.

“Research does not show it leads to lower prices.” Past studies by the B.C. government in the 1990s, and other external studies, have concluded that “regulation is not the solution for high prices.”

So competition and all the other forces will continue to determine price, to the eternal mystification of drivers. B.C. gas prices and the huge western differentials in price are like the federal equalization program – beyond the comprehension of mere mortals. The only clear takeaway from all the explanations is that coastal B.C. drivers generally get screwed.

Gas is about $1.28 a litre today in Victoria, $1.09 in Prince George, 93 cents in Calgary and 88 cents in Edmonton, according to price-tracking websites.

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Pipeline fight to set gas prices | Opinion | kelownadailycourier.ca.

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