For Immediate Release

February 23, 2007

McTeague Demands Federal Inquiry Into Gasoline Shortages and Price Hikes

Pickering---Dan McTeague, M.P. for Pickering-Scarborough East, and Opposition Critic for Consumer Affairs, demanded that the Harper Government immediately undertake an inquiry into gasoline shortages and price hikes throughout Ontario and especially in the Greater Toronto Area.

"It is unconscionable that Canada's largest city has been held hostage by the major oil companies who are charging whatever they like under the pretext that a refinery fire affecting the supply of one company; a winter turned colder, and a CN rail strike has caused gas prices to skyrocket in Toronto and elsewhere", said McTeague.

"Today's unprecedented gasoline shortage and high prices originates from the reckless and deliberate failure by the Competition Bureau to appreciate the full effect that mergers and refinery shutdowns had on this vital industry. Canadians are now footing the bill for the unacceptable industry rationalization that occurred. Consumers are also questioning why a reduction in the supply of one retailer impacts so dramatically and instantly on the price of gasoline sold by the other companies? Where are the oil inventories oil companies say they have?

With the warmest January on record, inventory capacities should not be exhausted. As well, the CN Rail strike has nothing to do with the delivery of product to terminals that receive oil from pipelines", added McTeague.

"I call upon the Conservative government to investigate what is going on and take ownership for a problem they helped manufacture - in concert with the major oil companies. The Conservative's past disdain to amend the Competition Act sustained an anemic Competition Bureau. Their intransigence denied the introduction of civil remedies that independent gasoline retailers could have used to prevent being squeezed out of business. There simply is no competition left in the oil industry and it is a whitewash of reality for the Conservatives to say in the House of Commons today that high gas prices are the result of world market prices; the size of local markets; competition and limited capacity. An inquiry is needed and Canadian consumers deserve one", said McTeague.

"Canadian consumers are at the mercy of the major oil companies who routinely charge above world market prices and routinely gouge Canadians - even in times of perceived or real crisis. One can only imagine how much gasoline would cost if there were a significant shortage of product in Canada. More importantly, the government owes it to Canadians that they should not have to wait to eventually find out", concluded McTeague.


For further information contact: Dan McTeague, M.P.