‘Big Oil not afraid, analyst says’

Toronto Star, p.A27, Saturday, May 19, 2007

It’s time to say Boo! with
True North No Gas Fridays

Beware the big oil barons
Don’t listen to their lies
Us drivers we don’t got a chance
Unless we organize — Carlius Dowius, © 2007

By Carl Dow
True North
Editor and Publisher

 Most Canadians feel the pain at the gas pumps. Most Canadians feel frustrated, as if Big Oil has a gun at their heads.

Provincial governments blame Ottawa. Ottawa says time and again that it can do nothing because the Competition Bureau has investigated allegations of price collusion without discovering any wrongdoing.

Ontario Energy Minister Dwight Duncan said the watchdog should be given stronger powers to investigate, and that collusion should be made a civil matter to lower the burden of proof and keep the energy in check.

Hugh Mackenzie, an economic policy analyst with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives said the Harper government’s refusal to act on the issue of rising prices and excess profits has emboldened the oil companies.

“They’re extremely confident that the federal government isn’t going to do anything,” said Mr. Mackenzie, explaining why the oil companies seem unmoved by growing public discontent.

“In the past, the industry worried that if margins remained high for a long time that it would attract government regulatory interest.

“I just think they’re less worried about that these days.”

New Democrat MP Chris Charlton ( Hamilton Mountain) has put forward a private member’s bill calling for an oil and gas ombudsman to protect consumers.

“Consumers have known for a very long time there is no correlation necessarily between world events, domestic events, or even the price of crude, with what’s happening at the pumps.”

MP Charlton said while drivers now can complain about prices, under her proposed legislation an ombudsman would bring transparency and accountability to the industry.

But neither transparency nor an ombudsman will work.

Big Oil is dominated by greed. So is Big Government because it always has an eye on the fact that it takes a sizeable chunk of the gas-price increase in taxes. Government will only move on gas prices when it feels the heat from voters.

True North says neither governments nor oil companies are going to yield until the public acts on its own behalf.

Because we have a multi-party system (and a good thing we do) that represents different ideas and realities we can’t expect one party or another to become one-issue vehicles. But all governments will act when consumers make it clear that they’re fed up and willing to do something about it.

That’s why we propose True North No Gas Fridays.

 At first there may be only one or two of us who will not buy gas on Fridays. But as the word spreads and this number rises to tens, hundreds, and yes, even thousands. Big Oil and governments will wake up to the fact that the natives are restless. And nothing scares big business and big government more than restless natives.

During World War 11 the War Time Prices and Trade Board was established to regulate the economy and prevent gouging by business without a social conscience. The economy thrived.

Today, in the midst of this mindless so-called war on terror, the government could take control of gas prices in the country — to say nothing of heating oil and natural gas.

What we’re faced with is not the workings a free market (may it live forever). The public is being gouged by monopolies in the spirit of the Robber Barons of the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries. The Robber Barons were brought under control, so can Big Oil.

So starting this week buy your gas on Thursday or Saturday or whenever, but never on Friday. As True North No-Gas Fridays grows it will be sure to have a positive impact.

Spread the word.