Justice for the gas gougers?

Here we go again: another long weekend, and in what is becoming a Canadian tradition like cheap beer and furniture store sales marathons, the oil companies are no doubt scrambling to boost the price of gas for your long weekend travelling. Despite years of exposure in the media and calls for parliamentary investigations from every quarter, Canada’s gas stations continue to raise prices on summer long weekends. But things may be changing, in Ontario at least, as the “Gas-Busters Hotline” takes on the multinationals this Canada Day weekend.

Ontario’s Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations is asking consumers to report gas price jumps over the Canada Day Weekend by calling the Gas-Busters hotline. Callers can leave a recorded message indicating the brand of gasoline, the location of the gas station and the price before and after the increase. Consumers in the local Toronto calling area can dial 326-8555 and those outside Toronto can call toll-free at 1-800-268-1142.

Consumer calls will be recorded throughout the summer and the information compiled into a report and sent to Industry Canada, the federal body which regulates gas prices.

“I am detmined to continue to press the federal government to act,” said Bob Runciman, Ontario’s Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs. “Information compiled from the Gas-Busters hotline will further help make the point to Ottawa. The federal government should appoint a special investigator and amend the Competition Act to allow federal regulators to take action against price gouging.”

To which most drivers would say: “fill ‘er up”. If the oil companies were telling the truth about “supply and demand”, why doesn’t the cost of beer go up each long weekend? Could it be because of, um, competition?