Leonard rules out minimum gas prices
The New Brunswick government has no intention of adding a minimum gasoline price to its regulated system, Energy Minister Craig Leonard confirmed on Wednesday.
Fredericton drivers have been benefiting from a price war in recent days with gas selling for 116.9 cents per litre, roughly 13 cents per litre lower than the maximum price that is set weekly by the Energy and Utilities Board.
The province’s energy minister said he has no intention of setting a minimum price that could stop drivers from benefitting from the savings brought on by a price war.
"We don't feel the government has a role to play in terms of determining where customers buy their gas from. It is a free market. It is a competitive market and that is what we want to make sure is out there," Leonard said on Wednesday.
"That is why we are not interested in putting minimum prices in place."
The Progressive Conservative government of Bernard Lord brought in regulated gas prices in 2006 after opposing them for years.
The Liberal government of Shawn Graham then amended the system so it sets gas prices weekly rather than every two weeks. The change was meant to better reflect market fluctuations.
Other regulated markets, such as Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, also set minimum prices.
The Atlantic Convenience Store Association has now asked the New Brunswick government to follow their lead and legislate a minimum selling price for gasoline.
The arrival of a new Costco store in Fredericton has been credited as the instigator to a gas price war in that city.
Ron Damiani, a spokesperson for the store, said politicians will decide what's best for their electorate.
He said Costco is not selling gas at a loss, but it can offer lower prices because it doesn't accept Visa or Mastercard, isn't open around the clock and has lower overhead because it doesn't sell mid-grade gasoline.