Federal Laws and Gasoline Prices

The Competition Act

The Competition Act (1985) is Canada's antitrust legislation. The purpose of this Act is to maintain and encourage fair competition in Canada. The Competition Bureau, an independent law enforcement agency, is responsible for administration and enforcement of the Competition Act. Its role is to promote and maintain fair competition so that Canadians can benefit from competitive prices, product choice and quality services.

The Competition Act contains provisions to prevent price fixing, price maintenance and abusive behaviour by any firm which results in the lessening of competition. The Act applies to all types of markets, not just gasoline markets.

Under the Competition Act, it is illegal for gasoline retailers to:

  • Agree to fix prices or enter into other anti-competitive agreements;
  • Try to influence another retailer's prices by agreement, threat or promise;
  • Persuade wholesalers to cut off gasoline supplies to discount retailers because of the discounter's low prices.

Under the Act, gasoline wholesalers are prohibited from:

  • Agreeing to fix prices or enter into other anti-competitive agreements;
  • Trying to influence another retailer's prices by agreement, threat or promise;
  • Refusing to supply a gasoline retailer just because that retailer charges low prices.

The Emergencies Act

The Emergencies Act (1985) empowers the Government of Canada to adopt special and temporary measures to ensure safety and security during a national emergency. A national emergency is one that seriously endangers the life, health or safety of Canadians or seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada.

In the event of such an emergency, the Government of Canada reserves the right to control or regulate any specified industry or service (and its equipment, facilities and inventory), including the oil and petroleum products market.

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