If Premier John Horgan wants to find the culprit responsible for the record high gas prices in B.C., he should look in a mirror.After picking a fight with Alberta, strangling the supply of oil and gas to the Lower Mainland and jacking up taxes on gasoline, the NDP leader has now tasked the B.C. Utilities Commission with investigating the cause of the ghastly price at the pumps.But there’s a catch.The gas-price investigators aren’t allowed to investigate the actions of the government, including tax rates and pipeline strangulation.That’s like a kid who promises she didn’t steal the candy but doesn’t want you to check under her bed.The show-trial investigation will be finished at the end of August, after the summer driving season is over and many family road trips are scrapped because of the high cost of gasoline in Horgan’s B.C.Does the premier think that British Columbians won’t get it? Does he think we’ll all fall for this silly puppet show? We know that if a supply is choked off and if taxes are increased, the price of a product will go up.Metro Vancouver produces only 30 per cent of its gasoline supply. Some comes from Alberta and the rest is imported from Washington state at a premium. The needed gasoline product runs through the Trans Mountain pipeline that the premier scorns.Related
For every litre of gasoline that Metro Vancouver drivers pump into their vehicles this summer, 54 cents of it is tax. The B.C. carbon tax is 8.9 cents per litre, the B.C. TransLink tax is 18.5 cents as of July 1, and the provincial excise tax is 8.5 cents. That’s 35 cents per litre just in provincial taxes. The federal government takes up the rest with the federal excise tax of 10 cents and the federal sales tax of eight cents.It was bemusing when the premier claimed to be surprised and concerned about the high price at B.C. gas stations, when everyone paying attention knows that his NDP government and Andrew Weaver’s power-enabling Green coalition are determined to make fuel unaffordable for people so that they “make different choices.” The reality of “making different choices” for many people means cancelling their summer road trip plans and driving across the U.S. border to fill up jerry cans in Washington state, where gas is about 50 cents cheaper per litre.It was laughable, then, when the premier actually called for an investigation into the mysteriously high price of gasoline in B.C.It was like that episode of The Simpsons when Homer forgets to pick up Bart and, rather than apologizing, says: “I know you’re mad at me right now, and I’m kind of mad, too. I mean, we could sit here and try to figure out who forgot to pick up who till the cows come home. But let’s just say we’re both wrong, and that’ll be that.”To be fair to Homer, he was willing to at least share the blame, while Horgan is rigging the investigation to avoid any responsibility.Now that we know that the investigation is a farce from the outset, it’s not remotely funny anymore. We know the jig is up. We are being had.The premier should save everyone the time and money and just admit that these high gas prices are the reality he wants to force on us.He needs to own this and to own up to it.• Kris Sims is B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
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