By Andrew Rankin, Metro Halifax
Despite pressure this week from Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie to review gas regulation in an effort to lower prices, Minister of Service Nova Scotia John MacDonnell said the program is not going anywhere.
© Metro/Jeff Harper
Premier Darrell Dexter speaks to reporters about gas prices on Thursday.
[HALIFAX, NS] — Gas regulation isn’t going anywhere under the NDP government.
Despite pressure this week from Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie to review gas regulation in an effort to lower prices, Minister of Service Nova Scotia John MacDonnell said the program is here to stay.
“It’s not something we should consider,” MacDonnell told reporters following Thursday’s cabinet meeting. “It was never put in place with the idea that it was going to bring in the lowest prices.”
Currently the province’s Utilities and Review Board uses a complex formula to determine weekly gas prices. MacDonnell said he would support making that formula public so people could study the figures for themselves when prices fluctuate. But he said local media has a solid understanding of the formula and can accurately predict prices.
“I’ve got to say the media quite often predicts the price and hits it right.”
Media predictions for Friday’s price ranged from the price rising a penny to falling 4.5 cents. Last week, the spread ranged from a two-cent to seven-cent hike.
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil has consistently opposed gas regulation, arguing the program has done nothing but inflate and destabilize prices.
Baillie believes every option should be considered to lower gas prices for Nova Scotians.
Premier Darrell Dexter accused Baillie of trying to turn pricing over to big oil companies that will assuredly raise prices.
The Tories brought regulation six years ago.
“If anybody believes that big oil really looks out for the consumer, we haven’t seen evidence of that,” said Dexter.
Ed Kallio, gas director with Calgary-based Ziff Energy, called Nova Scotia’s regulation program perplexing and says it’s proof that government shouldn’t be involved in manipulating the market.
“There was an assumption that oil companies were doing something crooked, the fact that regulation has not brought prices down proves that oil companies weren’t crooked,” said Kallio. “The market and competition is the best way, that will keep the prices at the lowest possible level.”
He says essentially people are paying more at the pump to fund needless bureaucracy.
“If you want to keep gasoline prices as low as possible get rid of the bureaucracy,” he said.