(AFP) – May 12, 2011
OTTAWA — Canada's industry minister said Thursday he would invite refiners, distributors and retailers to Ottawa to explain a spike in gasoline prices to record highs this week.
"Everyone is feeling the pinch at the pumps," Industry Minister Tony Clement told a press conference. "Especially at a time when household budgets are already tight, Canadians want and deserve answers."
He said he was asking industry representatives "to come to Ottawa to appear before a parliamentary committee and explain their pricing methods to Canadians."
Gasoline prices in some parts of the country rose to $1.41 per liter (US$5.56 per gallon) during the week even though the price of oil remained relatively low -- at $100 (US$104) per barrel.
In contrast, prices reached only $1.35 per liter (US$5.30 a gallon) last year when oil prices were at near-record highs of $140 (US$146) per barrel.
The industry's pricing methods are "opaque," Clement lamented, demanding to know "how they arrive at these prices, what are the factors, what are the domestic factors, what are the international factors."
"The first step to understanding (the pricing mechanism) and perhaps helping (consumers) is to get answers to these questions."
The invitees will face questioning by members of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.
No date has yet been set for the hearings.
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