The Canada report
By JIM FOX
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 25, 2001
Study finds no price gouging by oil companies
Oil companies aren't gouging Canadian consumers and are doing a good job, an investigation shows.
A federal study that looked at the relationships between prices at the pump and the cost of crude oil, consumer demand and supply found consumers are well served.
A report on the six-month investigation by the Conference Board of Canada found the rising price of global crude is "the main culprit in rising Canadian gasoline prices."
The economic research group said crude oil costs and taxes make up about 84 percent of the average price of a liter of regular unleaded gasoline.
Consumers and oil industry critics called for aggressive government action last spring after gas prices started to skyrocket, leading to the $750,000 study.
Industry Minister Brian Tobin told the Commons this shows Canada's prices are competitive with the rest of the world, "and no indication that a regulation regime . . . would do any good at this time."
Brian Hunt, president of the Canadian Automobile Association, said this is the "umpteenth study" showing no collusion in the market place.
Meanwhile, federal and provincial taxes on gasoline have gone from 1.5 cents a liter in 1984 to between 25 and 35 cents a liter today, he said.
Clinton's Ontario speech in May an early sellout
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the hottest prospect on the lecture circuit, will head north to earn some Canadian dollars.
A fundraiser for a medical foundation in Hamilton, Ontario, near Toronto sold all of its 1,090 tickets at $200 Canadian each for a speech by Clinton on May 2. Eight hundred people are on a waiting list.
The response was so great organizers asked Clinton to make a second appearance at a lunchtime address or by staying an additional day, said Craig Dowhaniuk of the Morgan Firestone Foundation. He didn't say what Clinton was being paid.
It's off to jail for Sen. Eric Berntson after the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed his final bid to beat a fraud conviction. In a 5-0 decision Friday, the court ruled the one-year jail term would stand and Berntson, 59, must pay $41,735 in false claims on two government expense allowances when he was deputy premier of Saskatchewan. Lawyer Michael Megaw said Berntson will resign in the next week.
Bernard Landry, who is expected to succeed Lucien Bouchard as Parti Quebecois leader and premier of Quebec, filed his nomination papers Friday. Quoting the late separatist Premier Rene Levesque, Landry said his goal is more than promoting sovereignty -- independence for Quebec -- "it's making it happen." Landry, 63, is expected to succeed Bouchard by acclamation on Saturday.
Facts and figures
Canada's dollar and stocks are lower on rumors of further U.S. interest rate cuts.
The Canadian dollar closed Friday at 65.05 US cents while the U.S. dollar returned $1.5372 Canadian before bank exchange fees.
The Toronto Stock Exchange 300 index slumped to 8,028 points, down 10.1 percent this year, while Canadian Venture Index was 3,077 points.
The Bank of Canada key lending rate remains at 5.25 percent while the prime lending rate is 7.25 percent.
Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 5, 10, 23, 36, 40 and 44; bonus 18. (Feb. 17) 9, 13, 27, 28, 38 and 42; bonus 20.
There's gridlock on Calgary roads after transit workers went on strike Thursday leaving 370,000 daily users having to find other ways to get around in 0-degree temperatures. Contract talks for the 2,000 bus, light rail transit and community shuttle bus workers broke off shortly after the strike began. Employment Minister Clint Dunford said it's up to the city and union to settle the dispute with provincial intervention. The city is offering pay raises of 9.5 percent over three years, while the union wants 12.4 percent.
Canadian farmers say massive government financial aid will be needed in order to plant crops this year. Poor weather, especially in the west in recent years, are combining with soaring fuel costs and low prices for their crops, partly because of what they call "market-distorting" U.S. and European subsidies. The federal government is expected to make an announcement on subsidies soon.
Newfoundland's new Premier Roger Grimes apologized Friday to a political organizer who accused him of attacking his reputation and threatened to sue him. Grimes earlier said he wouldn't apologize for telling reporters Danny Dumaresque would never work for his government because he couldn't be trusted. Dumaresque was campaign manager for one of Grimes' rivals in the recent provincial Liberal leadership race.
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