NS: Gas regulation here to stay with NDP, minister says

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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.

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.

Organizations: Utilities and Review Board, Ziff Energy

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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  • John Webster
    October 13, 2012 - 17:52

    People have such a short memory. Regulation was put in place by the PC and it was to avoid large price movements at the pump. Price is set by supply/demand plus taxes. It's amazing some of you believe we'd be better off by letting oil companies control the market as they did before. Wall Street used that same argument before 2008 and we know what happened.

  • Gordon Mcdonald
    October 13, 2012 - 11:32

    Gas prices in Nova Scotia are too high. Look at P.E.I., where the price is usually 10 cents BELOW what we pay. Why? N.B. prices are also cheaper. I do know that one thing that keeps our prices high is the tax we pay on fuel. When i put $40.00 of gas in my car and see that $12.00 of that is tax it makes me angry. I have emailed different MLA's asking for answers but have yet to receive a response. Wasn't the tax on gas to go towards fixing roads and also our healthcare? What happened to that? If it does actually go to those then we should have the best roads and healthcare in the country. Also, why is it that the price of gas is more in Truro and area then in HRM? Is it because it has to be trucked here? Then why is it cheaper on P.E.I. where it all has to be trucked to? The Gov't in N.S. needs to take a good look how much we pay and find ways to make it cheaper. Maybe if the politicians had to pay out of their own pockets, and not ours, for these things we would see a change.

  • johnny smoke
    October 13, 2012 - 11:01

    "Gas regulation?" how about "Gas Gouging?" how else are we going to pay for all of the largesse that this and previous governments have wrought upon us tax payers. It would not be so bad if the numerous taxes we pay at the pumps was spent on fixing our woeful roads, the last time I traveled the Sunrise trail, a advertised "Scenic route" it cost me $425.20 HST included for a bent tire rim, a blown tire and a broken shock absorber, I submitted an itemized bill some 6 months ago, I am still awaiting a reply maybe it got ate in one of those large papers shredders that the province recently invested in. I am afraid that finances in this province and elsewhere are out of control, can you remember when the H.S.T. was touted as a "Hospital tax", can you remember when the Lotto was a "Hospital fund" now what do we have? Run down highway's, decrepit hospitals who cannot even put a plate of acceptable food down in front of their patients, however we have well paid Health authorities, well paid highways departments, well paid paper pushers, and last but not least well paid gas regulators and politicians who are not shy when it comes to informing us that there is nothing that they can do about this are any other matter of concern to the average Joe. Truer words were never spoken.

  • Sublime
    October 12, 2012 - 12:22

    “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.” ... of it wasn't, it was brought in to ensure a substantial and consistent flow of tax dollars to the government

  • Craig
    October 12, 2012 - 10:36

    The article should have ended this way: "If you wanto to keep gasoline prices low as possible get rid of the NDP"!