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Majority of British Columbians say province isn’t doing enough to combat high gas prices: survey

As people head out of town for the Victoria Day long weekend, the rising cost of gas is making for an expensive holiday — and many say the B.C. government isn’t helping.

A new national survey conducted by the Angus Reid Institute found a majority of British Columbians say the province isn’t doing enough to combat the pain at the pumps, with even more supporting a cap on prices.

The survey found 59 per cent of people in B.C. overall say the NDP is dropping the ball on the issue. That feeling most prominent in rural areas, with 72 per cent agreeing.

While the NDP has resisted calls from the B.C. Liberals and some economists for a cap on maximum gas prices, seven out of 10 British Columbians polled say they support it.

Despite the resentment, not everyone thinks the province is to blame for the rising prices.

While 37 per cent of people in B.C. blamed government taxes, including the carbon tax, 47 per cent of respondents laid blame on oil companies and their “desire to maximize profit.”

Only Quebec joined B.C. in pointing the finger at oil companies, while every other province saw a majority blame taxes, particularly the prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Premier John Horgan has raised the issue with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and asked the B.C. Utilities Commission last week to investigate the record breaking gas prices.

Prices in the Lower Mainland have been hovering around $1.70 since April, with more price increases predicted as spring turns to summer. The premier has argued the issue comes down to a lack of supply.

The B.C. Liberals have launched an advertising campaign criticizing Horgan for his handling of the issue and have argued for tax cuts to help provide short-term relief for drivers.

Horgan and fellow NDP MLAs have argued tax cuts would only help oil companies “gouge” consumers and have called for both new refineries and increased shipments through the existing Trans Mountain pipeline.

Fears of further price increases have been ignited by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s proclamation of Bill 12, which would halt energy exports to B.C., if enacted.

The bill was created in response to the B.C. government’s court challenges that blocked the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which Alberta argues has crippled the province’s economy.

B.C. immediately launched a court challenge against the legislation.

The survey found only B.C. and Quebec side with the NDP’s fight over the bill and the pipeline, with every other province siding with Alberta. In B.C., 39 per cent of people also say Alberta should “turn off the taps.”

The survey also found nine in 10 British Columbians said they noticed a “major increase” in prices, with many noting the increases have changed their driving habits.

Forty-five per cent of people in the province said they’ve reduced their daily driving, while 32 per cent said they’re buying less gas.

The province also sees more people than anywhere else in Canada driving into the U.S. for gas, with 19 per cent of those surveyed saying they’ve done so.

Less than 10 per cent of people polled in every other province said they do the same.

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