Editorial — B.C. residents paying too much gas tax

The sharp difference between gas prices here and in other parts of the country point that out clearly.

On Tuesday, the price of regular gasoline in most parts of Langley fell to $1 per litre (technically, it was 1.009). On Wednesday afternoon, it dropped below the symbolic $1 barrier — it was priced at 99.9 cents per litre.

The Metro Vancouver area has been almost the last area of Canada to see gas prices fall to $1 or litre or lower, Last week in Edmonton, the price was 69 cents a litre. In Abbotsford, it was 95 cents. In most parts of the country, prices have been in the high 80s or low 90s.

As world oil prices have fallen, gas prices have slowly followed suit. Diesel prices have yet to do the same — they still remain in the $1.25 range, as diesel fuel pricing involves completely different market forces.

Gas prices have stayed stubbornly high in Metro Vancouver because of the TransLink tax of 17 cents per litre on fuel, and B.C. gas prices have stayed well above other provinces because of the 6.7 cent carbon tax implemented by the BC Liberal government under Gordon Campbell.

These taxes are in addition to other federal and provincial taxes on gasoline, and of course the GST, which is charged on both the cost of the fuel and the various other taxes.

Environment Minister Mary Polak, who is also MLA for Langley, is a staunch defender of the carbon tax and claims it has reduced the use of gasoline, diesel fuel and natural gas since it was implemented in 2008. While she is technically correct about products sold in B.C., she fails to mention that industrial capacity has been reduced since that time, with many large users of fuel such as pulp mills closing down permanently.

Carbon tax figures also do not account for fuel bought in adjacent Washington state, which now sees many more B.C. residents come there regularly to fill up, due to dramatically lower prices. The cost of fuel in Bellingham on Tuesday was $1.90 (U.S) per gallon, which works out to about 60 cents per litre Canadian, at current exchange rates.

Some governments are talking about raising fuel taxes in the current low-price environment. In B.C., they need to be cut, to make our economy more competitive.

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