The brilliance of the gas price inquiry

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Looks like Andrew Wilkinson laid another rotten egg; this time in relation to fuel prices.

Oh?

When gas prices spiked to $1.70 (or higher) per litre a few months ago, it triggered the NDP to convene an inquiry to ascertain the reasons why BC’s gas prices were so out of tune with the rest of the country; with an eye towards collusion if it could be discovered.

Well the report came back, and while collusion (between big oil companies) couldn’t be proven, the report did cite the virtual monopoly of only 5 companies that controlled the marketing and delivery of fuel to BC. And something about an inexplicable 13 cent extra that we’re paying in BC compared to anywhere else.

13 cents per litre extra.

That’s not ‘taxes’ either.

Taxes, while significantly higher than the rest of Canada on BC’s regional fuel prices, are probably the most transparent part of what costs go into your fuel tank. At any rate, if one is looking for blame on that file, the NDP increased the carbon tax on fuel by one penny; hardly justification for this price differential.

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Where Andrew Wilkinson has screwed up badly here is where he hitched his wagon to the narrative that the NDP’s fuel taxes are too high while simultaneously ‘blocking’ pipelines. Well the taxes, though higher, aren’t the NDP’s fault, and it was legitimate court action by first nations who have brought delays to Kinder Morgan. I’m not sure the BC Liberals want to instigate that kind of fight.

But in banging that drum, the BC Liberals have exposed big oil, though not necessarily acting in collusion, but acting like a virtual monopoly. That 13 cents per litre is a significant boost to a profit margin, now it has a political defender (at the expense of regular commuting drivers) in Andrew Wilkinson. This is not the position he wants to find himself in; defending big oil at the expense of average folks.

But there is a silver lining here.

In boosting fuel prices thanks to what can be best described as profiteering, its pushing electric vehicle sales, and its making driving less affordable (incentive not to drive); achieving a climate change goal in one fell swoop. Best thing about this? Its completely a market driven result.

Good work Andrew.

My2bits

BC Liberals find new ways to look pathetic over ride hailing

The BCUC approved the ICBC proposal on a basic insurance product for ride hailing corporations ahead of the anticipated September 16 legalization date.

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The BC Liberals found a way to complain about it. The angle? The product is too cheap and other drivers will have to subsidize ride hailing corporations as a result.

This is of course after months of belly aching over the government requiring a class 4 license for ride hailing drivers because it was an expensive barrier to earn a few extra dollars.

But this should come as no surprise from a party that likes to stand on both sides of an issue and would have attacked the NDP no matter how they handled it.

What’s really going on here? The desperate and pathetic flailing by the BC Liberals in frustration as they witness a government getting things done compared to the dithering and triangulation that Campbell and Clark were famous for.

The BC Liberals had every opportunity to enable ride hailing in the last two terms (of the 4 they served) where ride hailing corporations existed. But, no. They went as far as chasing out Uber with legal threats when they began operations without proper authorization from the gov’t.

It was only an 11:58pm conversion in the last few weeks before the 2017 election that the BC Liberals found religion on ride hailing, but even then, they misread sentiment. They still do.

In 2018, a poll discovered that while the public overwhelmingly approved of ride hailing, it wasn’t without limits. They wanted drivers to carry class 4 licenses, wanted limits to how many ride hailers could exist as nobody was looking to put *more* cars onto the already over capacity lower mainland road system.

One of the advantages of waiting as long as we have to get ride hailing off the ground is we get to see what long term trends look like in large cities like Vancouver with the advent of this click-and-ride service.

Studies show that unrestricted ride hailing services adversely affect traffic congestion. So putting a regulatory cap in place on how many may drive for ride hailing corporations would have been wise policy for those cities. Good thing it’s coming for BC.

I’m not saying that I’m in favour or opposed to ride hailing. But if we’re to have it, the drivers should at least play by the same rules we expect of cab drivers they pretend to be.

It’s a newer business model and an alternative to traditional cabbies. But it’s not the answer for traffic congestion or climate change.

Even the Green Party is on the wrong side of history here.

My2bits

BC Liberals are hypocrites on ride hailing

If you’re just tuning in, you might be forgiven for thinking that the BC Liberals have been the champion of ride hailing services the whole time.

You’d be wrong. Very wrong.

As recently as 2014, a year after the ’13 election, the BC Liberal transportation minister was openly threatening fines and/or jail time for such drivers.

But now they’re the champion?

Not likely.

But don’t let the cynical political games of the BC Liberals get in the way of a good lie.

My2bits

Ride hailing is coming quickly to BC and the NDP can take credit for it

There are those to be sure who don’t like the idea of the ride hailing service, but it’s here and unavoidable now.

What’s interesting now is the desperate flailing of certain BC Liberal partisans trying to gain a wedge issue in the thing they had 8 years to deliver but only made a deathbed conversion when looking at Parliamentary defeat.

Tough shit.

What I have been vocal on is that ride hailing drivers fall under the same rules as taxi drivers. Same license requirements, etc.

And I wasn’t alone either. The government passed its ride hailing legislation that requires a class 4 license (as Alberta does) plus a handful of other transition measures to establish the new business.

But not to the partisans. They’re out to convince you that the NDP are laggards on ride hailing, bowing to the powerful taxi lobby. If so, they failed at that.

Ride hailing has existed since 2009 with the founding of Uber. At no time until the last gasp of the 2017 provincial campaign did the BC Liberals find this as a priority. Indeed, they were in power all the previous time and didn’t seem at all motivated to bring in ride hailing at all. I wonder who’s lobby had their ears.

It wasn’t until the NDP/Green agreement did a formal plan take shape to bring in Ride hailing. So it was bundled into legislation and passed.

September is when it opens for business.

That took two years.

As for the onerous regime the NDP is putting ride hailers through, spare me your verbal diarrhea.

Other than time, ride hailing corporations have had a fairly smooth sailing to being legitimate here in BC. Just look at what they’ve experienced elsewhere.

Ride hailing isn’t going to solve any climate issue. It won’t take many cars off the road. It’s a convenience based business model. That’s all it is.

Oh and get used to a new term: “surge pricing”.

My2bits

Update: here’s a link to a sad story coming from Toronto where a grieving family had to bury a son lost to an inexperienced ride hailing driver. Punchline? That the mom hopes BC holds the line in requiring the higher license requirement and that other jurisdictions follow suit.

BC media adopting BC Liberal talking points. Again.

Here it is. The narrative is changing to accuse the NDP of sinking personal wealth through the various housing countermeasures they’ve initiated.

Let’s clarify why this is.

The BC Liberals deregulated the housing market over a decade ago while simultaneously turning lethargic over money laundering in BC.

This left the door open for criminal money to find it’s way into the housing market as a means to flip it to cleaned cash. The results of this were naturally that the housing market overheated and pushed tens of thousands of otherwise middle class families out of the housing market entirely.

But to hear some business leaders tell it (by extension, BC Liberal friends), the NDP combating this rotten scenario are the real problem; not the deregulated cesspool the BC Liberals prefer.

Horse shit.

If your personal wealth is artificially inflated by forces driven as a result of criminal money infecting the economy, then it’s not real. And correcting this problem will do more benefit to those who can now buy a home vs those who were trying to cash in on the fraudulent “boom” we had as a result of money laundering.

Crocodile tears I tell you.

Working folks are told the tale of an honest days pay for an honest days work. If the BC Liberals are looking to revert to the old days of cronyism and looking the other way, then shame on them. Never let them govern again.

My2bits

Andrew Wilkinson and his BC Liberals would be wise not to do a victory lap on the appeals court decision.

Whoops. Too late, they did.

How did we end up here? The NDP government tried to assert their right as a provincial government to protect rivers, streams and our coastline.

As it turns out, the environment wasn’t considered in this judgement, only a jurisdiction issue.

Which strikes me as odd, as the means the federal government used to initially approve #kmx was through a provincially signed “equivalency agreement”. Theoretically, if an agreement such as this can be approved, it can be repealed too.

Interesting words used in Andrew Wilkinson’s comments today that the BC govt was “smacked down”. Mr Hubris should remind Andy that it took the Supreme Court 20 minutes to “smack down” the BC Liberal government anti-teacher laws (after the BC appeals court upheld the BC Liberal government position).

This isn’t over yet. Not by a long shot.

My2bits

BC Liberals playing a dangerous blame-game on fuel prices

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Look, I get it. Andrew Wilkinson’s BC Liberals are the opposition and they’ve got a job to do in trying to throw in enough shade towards the government so that they can portray themselves as the champion of the little guy and the NDP is the aloof elitists governing from their ivory tower; disconnected from reality.

To do that however, the BC Liberals will have to campaign against themselves and against their own policies.

To that end, I draw your attention to the attempt to swoon Andrew Weaver’s Green Party into a BC Liberal led coalition with promises made in their 2017 Speech from the Throne that pledged (among other things), a $50/tonne carbon tax (just as the NDP had promised).

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Next up would be the false attribution of *all* fuel taxes to the NDP. This is false and the BC Liberals know it. There are taxes on fuel, and on average, they’re higher than other regions in Canada; but we’re not the only place that has taxes on fuel. But to listen to the BC Liberals, its 100% the NDP’s fault and they’re supposed to arbitrarily lower these taxes, regardless of what funding impacts this makes to various local governments and transit authorities.

We lost five of seven refineries in BC over the decades. The BC Liberals would blame the NDP for this; despite this trend taking place over a generation (or two). It didn’t happen overnight, and the reasons inconveniently undercut a BC Liberal narrative.

Consider what car you drove 30 years ago. Imagine its fuel economy then, now imagine paying the fuel costs in today’s market. Aren’t you glad this shift to higher efficiency cars and trucks has taken place? I know I am. And for the first time in my life, I am considering an electric or hybrid vehicle to make my transport dollar go even further.

A generation ago, in our 1980’s fuel crisis, powerful thinkers in all parties saw the vulnerability we had in gas guzzling vehicles. So they went down a path of regulating higher efficiency cars, smaller engine blocks and pollution controls. It all helped. Industry responded by building cars and trucks to meet the standards, but it had an interesting side effect. It caused us to buy less fuel, drive further on what we had, plan better, and change our way of thinking.

We’re in another energy crisis of sorts, and to listen to some grotesquely opportunistic politicians, there is someone to blame here (the folks in power of course). But the last energy crisis forced innovation and change and there’s no reason to think that it can’t happen again.

The price of gas isn’t at record levels because of a penny increase to the carbon tax, its because there’s a serious supply issue on the west coast and the free market is doing exactly what it does. Andrew Wilkinson and his merry band of negative nellies would have the NDP cut taxes that had zero to do with the rapidly increasing gas price, but would profoundly impact the province’s ability to deliver on transportation needs. But that doesn’t matter when your a crass opportunist.

What matters is that Andrew Wilkinson and his BC Liberals are now standing in opposition to the philosophy they had when they first introduced the carbon tax (the first in North America I might add); where attaching a price to carbon was supposed to change behavior/habits. As a partisan myself, even I give credit where its due, the carbon tax has worked. While the spike in gas prices isn’t necessarily related to taxes but it may as well be, and now is as good a time as any to rethink how we drive and how often. It may not cut the price of fuel, but maybe it will lower our demand a bit.

So, here we are. BC Liberals attacking a policy they once championed. They may think this is good politics (and in the short term it is), but there’s more than a few of us ready to staple this one to their foreheads in the coming weeks and months ahead; and most certainly in the next campaign.

my2bits