Northern NDP MPPs call on new minister to remember his calls for action on gas prices

NORTHERN ONTARIO—Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha is among a group of Northern Ontario NDP MPPs who are calling on the new Minister of Energy, Glenn Thibeault, to do something about gas prices. This was an issue that Mr. Thibeault had been vocal on in the past.

“We sent a joint letter on behalf of all the NDP MPPs in the North,” Mr. Mantha told the Recorder last week. “I remember standing in front of gas stations alongside Mr. Thibeault when he was an MPP with the NDP party and how vocal he was that something needs to be done on gas prices.”

“Now, Mr. Thibeault has the chance to step up and implement changes he believed in at one time-to reduce gas prices,” said Mr. Mantha. “This is what he stood for at one time. Northerners certainly want that.”

The open letter has been signed by MPPs Gilles Bisson (Timmins-James Bay), Sarah Campbell (Kenora-Rainy River), France Gelinas (Nickel Belt), Mr. Mantha and John Vanthof (Timiskaming-Cochrane), reminding Mr. Thibeault of what he advocated for in the past.

“As an opposition MP you were vocal on this issue,” the letter reads. “Now is the time for you to act. As the minister responsible for the Ontario Energy Board, you should direct the OEB to monitor gas pricing, reduce volatility and increase competition. This is something you can do today.”

“As every driver in Ontario knows, long weekends often lead to big spikes in gas prices. We are calling on you to act now, before the Canada Day long weekend,” the letter continues. “For years you promised people you wanted to take action to get gas prices under control. Here’s your chance to act. We are also calling for a meeting at your earliest convenience to discuss ways to get gas prices and energy prices in Northern Ontario under control.”

The letter continues, stating, “in the past you specifically highlighted the fact provinces can and should take a leading role in regulating prices and ending gouging, noting, ‘a way to deal with rising prices could be regulation’ and with that ‘anything is on the table. There’s regulation in place in (provinces) like New Brunswick and other Atlantic provinces where it’s not all of a sudden going to jump on a Friday by five or 10 cents a litre and then drop back down on a Monday.”

The NDP MPP letter adds, “you went further, noting that: ‘the government needs to bring forward a system that allows consumer complaints and concerns to be properly heard’.”

In the June 17 edition of Northern Life, Mr. Thibeault’s office sent an email in which he acknowledged that, during his time as an MPP, he had been quite vocal about the role of the federal government on this issue. However, he said, statistics show that trying to regulate prices only makes matters worse for consumers.

Mr. Thibeault told Northern Life that, historically, provinces that regulate prices tend to have comparable or higher prices than those in Ontario, since price regulation can impose additional administrative and regulatory costs with limited benefits. He pointed to a couple of studies that show that regulation has raised costs for consumers. He also noted that as the new minister of energy he will ensure the ministry makes the best decisions for consumers across Ontario, including our concerns in Northern Ontario.

“Mr. Thibeault has the opportunity to make changes now that he is the minister. Getting to the bottom of gas prices and making sure they are reduced is what he campaigned and knocked on doors for in the last election,” added Mr. Mantha.