According to Canada’s Competition Bureau, “provisions 45, 46 and 48 of the Competition Act prohibit agreements between two or more persons to prevent or unduly lessen competition or to unreasonably enhance the price of a product.”
In plain English then, it’s not okay for gas stations to increase or decrease their prices in an agreed upon manner. If it happens “accidently” or “circumstantially,” it’s okay.
The problem, says the Competition Bureau, is that “price-fixing conspiracies are by their nature difficult to detect and prove.”
This strikes me as ridiculously funny. Somehow, the simple has become insanely convoluted.
In my mind, the proof is blatantly obvious to anyone with a fairly decent pair of working eyes. Or even anyone with friends who have eyes.
When one gas pump raises or drops their price (sometimes by as much as 25 per cent increases, though decreases are by the penny), all other gas pumps in the greater Victoria region (or provincial region) follow suit.
In my simple, un-complicated non-government brain, prices would go up when a gas station’s old fuel supply is gone and has been replaced by a cheaper (or more expensive) deposit of fuel. The point of price change, then, is when the tanks are refilled.
Unless the supply at all gas stations are emptied and refilled at the exact same moment, then we already have all the proof we need that some form of collusion is happening. They’re advertising it for goodness sakes!
The hand-slapping for price collusion is potentially painful. It can include fines up to $10 million, imprisonment for up to five years, or both. Courts can also impose orders to prevent this from happening.
Yet, in spite of the evidence blatantly posted right there before our eyes, nothing happens.
Are we still waiting for some innocent child to yell out that the Emperor is naked? Sadly, in today’s world, that child will need to be one rich enough to be able to afford a team of lawyers, and young enough to live through the decades that it might require.
And then, we’ll need a sibling child to point out that the very same is going on with the highly monopolized communications industry (cell phones, cable, internet). Only difference is, they are not posting their signs on drive-by billboards.