No politics in setting gas prices, MacDonald insists
Last Updated: Thursday, May 28, 2009 | 2:35 PM ET
Progressive Conservative Leader Rodney MacDonald is brushing aside a Liberal accusation that his party is playing politics when it comes to setting gasoline prices.
MacDonald said Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil is simply "grasping for straws" as the clock ticks down to the June 9 provincial election.
"It doesn't surprise me that he would do so. But perhaps he can explain to the people of Richmond County, as one example, why he thinks that their gas stations should be closed," MacDonald told reporters Thursday.
The Liberal party has released documents received under freedom of information laws that show the minister responsible for Service Nova Scotia is given three options for weekly price settings.
McNeil maintains that runs counter to previous explanations that the price is set through a formula using the New York Harbor spot price for gas, before margins and taxes are added.
In the documents, which go back more than two years, two of the three options to the minister are blackened out each and every week.
McNeil said that tells him the government is picking the highest price in order to rake in more tax dollars.
"They've blanked out the other two possibilities and will not release those to Nova Scotians. There can only be one reason for that. It's because they're lower than the option they're choosing," McNeil said.
When asked about the Liberals' accusation, MacDonald said that's "not true."
If the province scrapped gas price regulation as the Liberals suggest, MacDonald said, then small rural gas stations would be forced out of business because they couldn't compete on the open market.
The Tories brought in gas price regulation in 2006, saying it would mean less volatility at the pumps and a guaranteed profit for retailers, though not necessarily lower prices.
Under this system, the price of gasoline and diesel is reset every week.