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Gas Prices: A Love Story

Competition Bureau Investigation in Southeastern Quebec

On Thursday, the Bureau announced that criminal charges have been laid following an investigation into retail gasoline pricing practices in southeastern Quebec. You can read the news release here.  While the charges do not involve Petro-Canada employees or Petro-Canada retailers, it’s the type of story that may leave you and other drivers with lots of questions.  So I thought I’d share some of our thinking on the story.

On Thursday, criminal charges were laid against 13 individuals and 11 companies “accused of fixing the price of gasoline at the pump in Victoriaville, Thetford Mines, Magog and Sherbrooke.”   The details and names can be found in the news release.   While Petro-Canada is not involved, we still take these matters seriously.

We support and respect Canada’s competition laws and commend the actions of the Bureau, which will send a clear message that violations will not be tolerated.  As Sheridan Scott of the Bureau said yesterday "price-fixing deprives consumers of the benefits of competition, such as a lower price.”

At Petro-Canada, we take a broad approach to ensuring those involved in retail understand and comply with all applicable laws:

  • Our retail contracts require all retailers to comply with all applicable laws.
  • We schedule regular, mandatory training for those directly involved in our retail operations.
  • We send regular reminders to all retailers to ensure they understand and comply with all applicable laws.
  • And we have an established Code of Conduct which all Petro-Canada employees must read and operate within. Employees must review the Code periodically.

Now you may have heard that one site in Victoriaville was identified as being under the Petro-Canada "banner".   I’d like to clarify, using the Bureau’s own words:

"the banners…[do] not make reference to oil companies, but rather to the posted banner by the gasoline stations. While some of the accused operated under the name or "banner" of a major oil company, in these cases, the local operators of the gas stations were responsible for setting the final price at the pump."

The banner refers to the brand of fuel that they sell.  They own the fuel and are responsible for setting the final retail price.   

So while the charges and guilty pleas do not involve Petro-Canada employees or retailers, we will use any information gathered through this process in our efforts to constantly improve our policies and procedures to serve you better  We will also be reminding Petro-Canada retailers, who are among the best in the business, of their responsibilities under the law and our expectations in that regard.

As a driver myself, I fully understand the interest in this story.  As a Petro-Canada employee and admitted "news junkie", I also think it's important to understand the full context surrounding a story. Hopefully this has been helpful.   

Comments

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Kerry Brennan

Why does the Petro Canada Station in Deep River Ontario have consistently 5 to 6 cents higher per litre than the Mr. Gas which is 5 kilometers east of here?

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