Volume 93, Issue 92

Thursday, March 23, 2000


NEWS

Haskett says sorry

Pill accessibility increases

Eye disease put in focus

Study links number of car passengers to teenage accidents

Gas study criticized for being a smoke-screen

Head hunter talks about importance of high-tech skills

Stuff

Caught on campus

Gas study criticized for being a smoke-screen



By Chris Lackner
Gazette Staff

The Canadian Automobile Association has refused to buy into the Federal government's plan to begin a new study of the gas industry.

Monday, the government announced plans for a new independent study of the gasoline crisis, to be compiled by the Conference Board of Canada, said Pat Breton, press secretary for Natural Resource Minister Ralph Goodale.

"The study will be two-pronged," he explained. "Both industry people and the general public will have their chance to give input. We expect a report to get back to us by the end of the year."

Elly Meister, vice-president of public affairs and communications for the CAA, said she thought the study would serve very little purpose.

"There have been numerous studies done," she explained. "We don't need more research. What we need are tax breaks from the government. I think this study could be interpreted as a smoke-screen set up by the Liberals to avoid the entire issue."

Meister said the federal government should eliminate the 1.5 cents per litre increase to the excise tax – an extra tax charged for gasoline – which was placed on the substance in 1995. She also cited a reduction in the goods and services tax as a way to lower the price of gasoline.

"The goods and service tax is unfair," she stated. "It's applied on top of both the provincial and excise taxes. It's a tax upon tax."

However, Breton said these taxes accounted for only a small portion of gasoline prices and were not responsible for the giant increases in gasoline over the last year. "Our taxes have had relatively little change in almost six years," he added.

Meister said with the high gas prices the government could make an extra $1.5 billion per year through GST alone. "Nobody should kid themselves, gas is a great source of revenue for the government. I have nothing against the Conference Board of Canada, but they're not going to provide anything new," she said.

"The government is quite transparent in this situation. They're making a killing and passing the price to consumers."

Canadians have been vocal on the issue of gasoline, Breton said, explaining the new study would help inform the government as well as citizens. "We need a broader view of the industry crisis," he said. "We all need clarity as to why prices are so high."

Western alumnus Tara Hawkins said something needed to be done immediately about the prices of gasoline. "I don't think a long term study is going to help me as an individual," she explained. "I work at different ends of the city. I'm dependent on my car and 73 cents per litre is just ridiculous."


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