Gasoline prices in parts of Canada continued their upward march Wednesday, rising 2.5 cents per litre.
The website tomorrowsgaspricestoday.com said the price increase occurred in southern and eastern Ontario, Montreal and Vancouver.
The increase followed a 6.5-cents-per-litre jump the day before in the same areas.
The increases means the average price for a litre of regular is just under $1.47 in Montreal, and just over $1.41 in the Toronto area. In Ottawa, the price rose to $1.35, and in Vancouver it rose to $1.40
Motorists said they are feeling the pinch in their wallets.
"It probably means another $50 a month for me," said Ken Fairweather, who was filling up at a gas station in downtown Toronto. "So, certainly [I'll have to] cut back on eating out and things like that."
Longtime fuel price watcher and former Liberal MP Dan McTeague said speculation is to blame for the price increase. McTeague said the price in Toronto is roughly eight cents per litre above where it should be.
Others differ on the reasons, however. John Stephenson, author of The Little Book of Commodity Investing, and senior vice-president of First Asset Investment Management, told CBC Radio's Metro Morning on Wednesday that speculation isn't the cause of higher prices.
"Every time the price of oil goes higher and the price of gasoline goes higher, there's an outcry — not only in this country, but south of the border," he said.
"The U.S. Congress … has looked at this issue of speculation and its impact on markets, and so far, it's concluded that there's absolutely no impact. Or at least if there is, it's so marginal, it's not something to be worried about."
He also noted that the higher prices haven't had much effect on demand — only down one per cent recently.
"And we're coming into a seasonal period where it tends to be the highest price of gasoline, generally, in the calendar year, and that's the driving season in the U.S." as people go on summer vacations.
Greedy fat cat speculators, fed by deregulation?
'Avoid putting the pedal to the metal and essentially peeling out or taking off really quickly.'—Jeff Lemoine, CAA
"It's very appealing emotionally," Stephenson says, "but the fact is, it doesn't work that way."
For his part, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says the harmonized sales tax isn't the reason gasoline prices are soaring to over $1.40 a litre in Toronto and to $1.50 in northern Ontario.
He told reporters in Toronto on Wednesday that prices are up at the pumps because of speculation in international oil and gas markets.
Jeff Lemoine, a spokesman for the Canadian Automobile Association, said there are ways to drive more efficiently.
"If you are stopped at a stop light or at a stop sign, avoid putting the pedal to the metal and essentially peeling out or taking off really quickly," Lemoine said. "That's going to use a lot of fuel in that one instance of pushing that pedal down."
He said carpooling is another obvious choice to cutting down on fuel costs by putting more people in fewer cars.