Premier outlines terms for B.C. Utilities Commission investigation of sky-high gas prices

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      As the price of gasoline has skyrocketed across B.C., Andrew Wilkinson and the Liberals have encouraged the public to point the finger at the governing NDP.

      “Blame John Horgan,” reads a not-so-subtle message that appeared on billboards throughout the Lower Mainland earlier this month.

      To which the premier has now responded with a formal government investigation.

      "The rapid increase in gas prices in B.C. is alarming, increasingly out of line with the rest of Canada, and people in B.C. deserve answers," Horgan said today (May 21) quoted in a media release. "We asked the BCUC [B.C. Utilities Commission'] to conduct a fair, transparent and comprehensive independent investigation."

      The release goes on to outline terms and the scope of the review.

      The BCUC should examine market factors, price fluctuations, and competition concerns, it states, and “explain the difference in refining margins between British Columbia and the rest of Canada, including why in recent months refining margins for Vancouver were more than double the Canadian average”.

      The regulatory agency should also look for any evidence of “price fixing and gouging”, the release continues, and review options for new regulatory measures that could bring greater transparency to gas prices in B.C.

      The investigation's terms of reference do not include a review of any impacts that taxes might have on fuel costs.

      GasBuddy

      B.C. minister of jobs, trade and technology Bruce Ralston is quoted in the release with a veiled reference to the Liberal party’s efforts to blame the NDP for prices at the pumps.

      "High and wildly fluctuating gas prices in B.C. are hurting people and B.C.'s economy," he said. "Speculation and misinformation will not lead to solutions. The BCUC is a respected independent regulator and the appropriate body to investigate gas prices in the best interest of British Columbians. We look forward to the report and recommendations."

      The BCUC has been asked to respond with a report on gas prices by August 30, 2019.