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Oil companies ‘gouging’ consumers, MP Cannings says

A local MP says while gas prices have come down a bit this summer, he can only conclude they remain as high as they are due to the greed of oil companies.

South Okanagan-West Kootenay New Democrat Richard Cannings says following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, oil prices spiked to $120 per barrel and remained high until June. They have since declined to the $80 to $90 per barrel range.

Following the Ukrainian invasion, gas jumped to over $2 per litre and peaked at about $2.15, an increase of about 85 cents. But Cannings says when oil prices last topped $100 per barrel between 2011 and 2014, a carbon tax was already in place, but gas wasn’t much above $1.30 per litre.

“The crisis in the Ukraine certainly pushed world oil prices higher, but that only explained a very small part of that increase in the price at the pumps,” he says.

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“It’s very clear the bulk of those increases, more than half, came from oil companies wanting to make more money. You could call it greed. They’ve been making a lot of money this year. These are what everybody would say are excess profits. It’s price gouging.”

Cannings says the NDP is proposing to institute a special tax on those profits, similar to what the United Kingdom has done, where a 25 per cent levy is expected to raise the equivalent of nearly $8 billion.

“We could do the same in Canada,” Cannings says. “We’ve calculated that we would bring in enough money to double the GIS supplement and raise the child tax benefit to help families.

“We would get that money from the people who are not feeling inflation. They’re just making a killing off of it.”

Cannings says the war in Ukraine has also increased natural gas demand, especially in Germany, which is looking for other sources. Germany’s chancellor was in Canada last week to sign a hydrogen agreement.

Cannings says he attended a G20 energy meeting in Argentina in 2018 where Germany outlined a plan to buy renewable energy from other countries with abundant supply.

“This Newfoundland deal was all about where we should be going,” he says. “Canada is a world leader in hydrogen technology. We’re going to be left in the dust if we don’t double down on it right now.”

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