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432-00147 (Consumer protection)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

PETITION TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS

WHEREAS the cost of gasoline continues to fluctuate erratically, with prices prone to wide variations between communities and sharp spikes in anticipation of higher demand; and

WHEREAS the federal government has taken no action to ensure that gas prices are fair and competitive, despite numerous complaints from citizens and watchdog groups;

THEREFORE WE THE UNDERSIGNED CITIZENS OF CANADA, call upon the Government of Canada to present legislation to protect consumers from price gouging by gasoline retailers.

Response by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Navdeep Bains

The Government of Canada would like to thank the petitioners for sharing their views on gasoline pricing and welcomes their input on this important issue.

Other than under the authority of national emergency legislation, the Government of Canada does not have the constitutional authority to regulate prices in specific industries, such as gasoline, that are not exclusively federal. Provincial and territorial governments may do so, however, and some have chosen to exercise this authority. Rather, the federal government administers economic framework laws of general application.

One of these, the Competition Act, is a federal law that applies, with limited exceptions, to all industries across Canada, including the gasoline and petroleum product industries. This law prohibits, among other things, agreements among competitors to fix prices and abusive practices by dominant firms that reduce or prevent competition.

The Competition Bureau of Canada is an independent law enforcement agency responsible for enforcing the Competition Act. While charging high prices is not in itself unlawful under the Competition Act, the Competition Bureau takes action to investigate when it finds evidence of price-fixing or other anticompetitive conduct in the retail gasoline sector. Since 2008, 33 individuals and 12 companies have pleaded or been found guilty of fixing the price of gas in several markets in Ontario and Quebec, with fines totalling more than $6 million. More information regarding the Competition Bureau’s work in the retail gas industry can be found here: https://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/h_00118.html.

The Competition Bureau also closely examines mergers that could substantially lessen or prevent competition in the retail gasoline sector, and has examined several such mergers in the last few years. It has challenged a proposed merger before the Competition Tribunal and for other mergers it has reached negotiated remedies with the merging parties in order to ensure competition for retail gasoline sales in local markets across Canada is not substantially lessened.

The Government of Canada strongly encourages anyone with evidence of price-fixing or other anticompetitive agreements in the retail gasoline sector to file a complaint with the Competition Bureau.

It is also important to note that there are many reasons why gasoline prices rise and fall, or are different from one region to another, that do not necessarily raise issues under the Competition Act. Prices in local or regional markets may vary due to differences in supply and demand conditions, including the number, size, and type of competitors in each market; differences in taxes, marketing, and transportation costs; or the presence of one or more aggressive price competitors in a specific local market.

Once again, the Government thanks you for bringing these concerns forward.

Presented to the House of Commons
Brian Masse (Windsor West)
October 23, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00147)
Government response tabled
December 7, 2020
Photo - Brian Masse
Windsor West
New Democratic Party Caucus
Ontario

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.

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