09 February 2009

The smear of schmeergelder

When former New Brunswick gas regulator David Nelson couldn’t impugn a think tank report that shows – as drivers know – that gas price regulations costs them more than the unregulated system, the only thing Nelson could offer up is the suggestion the think tank is on the take.

That’s as convincing as the defence offered by local licenses and permits minister of Kevin O’Brien who took issue with the AIMS report that drivers in Newfoundland and Labrador had shelled out $65 million extra due to gas price regulation.

O’Brien said the amount couldn’t be that high because the regulatory office only costs $500K a year and that is paid by the gas retailers. 

Yes.  A cabinet minister responsible in part for looking after consumers doesn’t understand that when they pay more than they should have, that’s a cost.

But anyway…

CBC gives way too much credit to Nelson’s smear. They add their own observations at the end of the piece:

Also, the Calgary petroleum consulting firm MJ Ervin reported in its 60-city national survey that five of the 10 lowest pump prices recorded in 2008 [not including taxes] were in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia. Halifax gas prices ranked fourth lowest in the country.

One tiny problem:

Pump prices include taxes.

Check those on the MJ Ervin study and you find the ten lowest prices are in western Canada and parts of Ontario.