Tuesday, April 17, 2007

When will the madness stop?

The last time I went to fill my hybrid vehicle up with gasoline, I pulled into the 401 "rest stop" just west of Port Hope to be greeted by this amusing Esso sign. (Funny they should call them rest stops - maybe something like "Corporate & Convenient Pick-Pocket" is a better fit). Much to my chagrin, I had just passed an Ultramar station at Port Hope offering regular fuel at 98.9 cents a litre. Of course, when I got to the pump, I found that Esso Extra was in fact $1.10 a litre, not the posted $1.00.2. The cruel irony is that the product being sold, now broken down into units about 1/4 the size of what people my age are used to, is never purchased in the unit measurement that it is priced in. In other words, no one buys a litre of gas - we generally buy a tank full. So really, the sign should read, Tank of Esso Regular: $50 - $150, in which case we might stop to think just how badly we are being fleeced by the oil companies, and how ridiculous our hunger for independent travel has become. Here they are selling us a non-renewable resource mined from under our country at absolutely obscene profit levels. The world price of oil goes up, someone in Iraq sneezes, a storm threatens the gulf coast, and instantly the price at the pump is jacked up. Worse still, a weekend approaches, and the price is jacked up. I had to laugh when the grossly over-paid CEO of Imperial Oil recently purchased a full page in the Globe & Mail apologizing for the inconvenience that might have been caused by some stations being closed due to a fire at one of the company's refineries. No mention in the apology about how badly he felt for using this event as yet another excuse to falsely jack up the price at the pump. And how often do you see the price at the pump drop when the world price of oil goes down. I'm all for capitalism, but something is rotten in the Imperial world of gasoline. We owe it to ourselves to find and start using renewable resources to satisfy our insatiable appetite for energy. Imagine if we had put some of the profits of the oil industry into building a world class mass transit system in Canada. In the meantime, I find that gas stations in Port Hope almost always offer a better price than stations in the surrounding areas. Here's a web site you can go to to find cheap gas in Toronto.

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