Suspected gas pump price gouging prompts Alberta premier to demand investigation

Click to play video: 'Premier Kenney demands investigation into possible gas price gouging'
Premier Kenney demands investigation into possible gas price gouging
WATCH: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he wants an investigation into the price you're paying at the pumps. This comes as drivers are starting to see prices fall but many say it's not nearly enough. Lauren Pullen reports – Jul 22, 2022

Alberta’s premier is demanding an explanation for continued sky-high gas prices across the province.

In a news release Friday afternoon, Jason Kenney said he’s launching an investigation into potential price gouging.

“First, this afternoon I met with the Canadian Fuels Association to express Albertans’ frustration with recent gas price trends and demand an explanation for why this is going on,” Kenney said in a statement.

“Second, I will ask the Competition Bureau of Canada to investigate potential gasoline price fixing in Alberta. Under the Competition Act, it is illegal for competitors to mutually agree to set prices. Albertans deserve to know if this is going on.

Kenney went on to say he’s directed Service Alberta to explore any tools available to the province under the Consumer Protection Act.

Story continues below advertisement

“With Alberta no longer collecting fuel taxes at the pump, Albertans deserve to know why they are suddenly paying as much for gasoline as motorists in Toronto when as recently as two weeks ago they were paying far less.”

On Friday, the average price of regular gasoline in Toronto was around $1.689 per litre, according to GasBuddy.

In Calgary and Edmonton, the average price was $1.769 a litre — historically, Albertans have paid much lower prices than people in Ontario due to taxes and proximity to refineries.

One energy analyst calls it a “Category 5 fleecing.”

President of Canadians for Affordable Energy, Dan McTeague says Alberta gas station operators are taking advantage of drivers and need to start passing on savings immediately.


Get the day's top news, political, economic, and current affairs headlines, delivered to your inbox once a day.

Get daily National news

Get the day's top news, political, economic, and current affairs headlines, delivered to your inbox once a day.
By providing your email address, you have read and agree to Global News' Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

He told 630 CHED and 770 CHQR’s Shaye Ganam gas stations are raking in profits off the backs of consumers, even as the price of crude falls.

“Their retail margins, which have always been very competitive in the range of 10, 12 or 13 cents a litre, are now 40 cents a litre and that is wrong and unacceptable,” said McTeague.

Story continues below advertisement

“Whoever is managing those gas stations ought to be ashamed of themselves, because what they’re doing is creating an environment where people are rightly going to ask for regulated gas prices. There’s no way under the sun they can justify that.”

Gas prices in Calgary have fallen slightly over the past couple of days, ranging from 147.9 to 178.9 cents per litre.

But McTeague says that’s not enough. He’s calling for an immediate 20 cent drop per litre.

“I think first of all, we need to focus a spotlight on who’s taking advantage of consumers here. And not the person working behind the desk, but gas stations are owned by a group… those are the folks you have to go after.

“Those are the folks that are basically making a killing at the expense of the public, and I’m not talking a small amount.”

University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe believes it’s likely a lot more complex than gas stations simply pocketing profits.

“Margins are very high — historically high — so it’s in need of an explanation. I think we are going to see more information come out, more analysis to come out to hopefully shed light on what’s happened the last few weeks,” said Tombe.

Story continues below advertisement

“If it was a lack of competition or some kind of corporate greed… we would expect diesel prices wouldn’t have fallen in the way that they have. So I think it’s really a market specific factor. There’s been some challenges for retail stations that’s leading to higher costs for them and that means higher costs for us.”

But NDP leader opposition Rachel Notley is targeting the provincial government, saying it’s not doing enough to make sure savings are being passed on to drivers.

She says the Alberta government needs to do regular audits to ensure the provincial tax freeze implemented in April continues to be taken off the top.

“I think that if you were to create a statutory obligation for that — if there were to be penalties associated with not passing it on — and if there were to be a regular system of spot audits to ensure that that was tracked, then I think that those are tactics and strategies that could be used to protect Albertans and to make sure that they have more money in their pocket at the end of the month,” Notley said Friday.

Global News reached out to Shell, Husky (which is owned by Cenovus) and Petro Canada (the retail end of Suncor Energy) about the gas gouging allegations, but as of publishing had not received a response.

Story continues below advertisement

In the meantime, McTeague said consumers can fight back by contacting their MPs and MLAs.

“Have them break down the numbers. And have them call Parkland, have them call Imperial Oil, have them call Shell.

“This is unacceptable and they know that. I think it’s going to take wider public condemnation and repudiation, especially by elected officials.”

Sponsored content