Gas giants hate Toronto too

Less competition means we pay more at the pumps, price watcher says.

Toronto drivers have more gas pains than motorists in other cities.

Gasoline prices — once again surpassing a dollar in the GTA — are more expensive in the Toronto area because of a lack of competition and an unwillingness by the federal government to better regulate the industry, gas guru Dan McTeague says.

But it’s not like McTeague or anybody else will be able to complain to the Harper government anytime soon as prices continue to rise.

“Canadians are not well-served by the status quo,” said the longtime Liberal MP McTeague. “But I can’t do a whole hell of a lot of screaming and yelling about it. I can’t get a question in at the House of Commons because it’s shut.”

According to McTeague’s Tomorrow’s Gas Prices Today blog, the price of gas today in the Toronto area will be 100.7 cents a litre.

In Ottawa, gasoline will be 97.2, McTeague predicted. In Kitchener, 98.6, and in Winnipeg, 98.9.

McTeague said while Ottawa enjoys a somewhat healthier retail gas scene with both major players and independents, choice in Toronto is limited to supply from the big guys Esso, Shell, and Sunoco (now owner of Petro-Canada).


McTeague warned on his online blog that the majors “can, and do, charge whatever price they wish, secure in the knowledge that Toronto is trapped, with no ability to weaken this tremendous grip” on pump prices.

He said most, if not all, independent gas retailers were pushed out by the large refineries a decade ago because of “predatory pricing,” which saw the majors producing gas and selling it at a slim margin at their own retail outlets.

As a result, none of the smaller retailers could compete because the markup they needed to sustain their businesses put them in a position where they couldn’t compete, McTeague said. There are several steps that would need to be taken to alter the retail gas landscape in Canada, including an overhaul of competition legislation in Canada, he said.

“It is an entrenched monopoly which will be very difficult to undo,” McTeague said.

But all the industry technicalities aside, the main thing is that Canadians are tired of having to fork over more and more money for gasoline, he said.

“It is top of mind to people because it really means more money out of their pockets, bottom line,” McTeague said.