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Minister Flaherty unable to answer questions


For Immediate Release:


October 21, 2011


Minister Flaherty unable to answer questions


Ottawa – During the October 19th meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on national Finance, Senator Pierrette Ringuette questioned the Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty on the causes of the differences in prices between Canada and the United States. The Minister’s time was short, only 20 minutes of the two-hour meeting, and even shorter on answers.


Gas and Diesel Prices


Gas prices in Canada are roughly $0.31 per litre higher than the US. The taxes are a large component of this, on average taxes $ 0.37 in Canada versus $ 0.11 in the United States. The high cost of gasoline and diesel increases transportation costs and increase prices on consumer goods.


When Senator Ringuette questioned Minister Flaherty on gas prices, his response was “With respect to gasoline prices, if the committee finds, as a matter of fact, that our taxes are higher on gasoline, that is a policy decision for governments to look at..”


This is not a new issue, the difference in gas prices has been discussed at length for years and yet Minister Flaherty, with a department staff of thousands, doesn’t know if taxes on gas are higher in Canada? Instead of using up the committee’s time on this, he should ask a few staff members to take a minute or two on the internet.


Natural Resources Canada has that specific information on its website:


Cars Made in Canada


Many of the cars made in Canada are sold for over $ 4,000 more in Canada than in the United States, such as the Chevrolet Camaro, made in Oshawa, Ontario which sells for $26,995 in Canada and $ 23,200 United States.


When asked why this is the case, the Minister had nothing to say.


Excessive Merchant Fees


Another factor in increased costs for consumer is the excessive transaction fees imposed by VISA and MasterCard on our merchants which translate into increased prices.


These excessive merchant fees amount to roughly $5 billion a year and the merchant fees in Canada are among the highest in the world.


For over four years Senator Ringuette has been urging the Harper government to establish reasonable limits on the excessive fees imposed by VISA and MasterCard to merchants.  These excessive fees are translated in higher retail prices, but the Harper Government refuses this option.


“With so little to add to the discussion at the committee meeting, I have to ask  myself whether the Minister is really serious about addressing the price differences between Canada and the United States, like the ones I have been flagging for years. Minister Flaherty has had years to take corrective action and chose to do nothing,” said Senator Ringuette after the meeting.



For Additional Information:


Tim Rosenburgh

Office of Senator Pierrette Ringuette

(613) 943-2248