Whose is cheaper? Your gas is as good as mine

There they were – the “cheapest gas in Toronto – 39 cents/gallon.”

By Allan Hewitson

It’s 2018 – and as usual I did not have to go very far to find a resumption of one of Canada’s most frequent cross-country arguments – the price of a litre of gasoline!

It has been resounding almost daily on my Facebook page as Kitimatians and others debate the value of what we have to pay at the pumps, compared to the slumping market price of oil in Canada.

History has me wincing – since I can close my eyes and recall seeing the garish signs on the outskirts of Toronto, the first time I drove there (in the early 1960’s, remember).

There they were – the “cheapest gas in Toronto – 39 cents/gallon.”

Yes, the long bygone years. A tank of gas for my ol’ Dodge cost about $8. I miss that, at least – but I don’t miss my old green ‘55 Dodge quite as much.

Anyway, this time the argument starts with a posted photo of a sign just south of the U.S. border showing gasoline costs of US$2.58/gal for unleaded, and US$2.69 for premium.

The poster equates that to Canadian prices averaging C$1.20 litre or C$4.55 a gallon – and the mathematicians move in.

Government taxes get whacked right away – then a math guy converts it to Canadian, claiming it’s only about $3.83, a $0.83 difference and notes the U.S. gallon is almost a litre smaller the Canadian gallon – so it’s about the same price per volume – compare apples to apples and gallons to gallons, he urges.

Yes.

A local promptly rejoinders that a friend of his on vacation in Arizona reports: “With my grocery store’s discount card I paid $1.92 US/US Gal. or approx 52 cents CDN per litre today”. And off we go again.

“The Canadian government knows the Canadian people are wimps and will let them do whatever they want, like let them give billions of dollars to other countries while our elders have to choose between heat, meds and food in that order,” one man blurts.

Another friend of mine contributes this – “Went to fill up my rental car in Florida and I said $40. The attendant suggested I only pay for $30 – lol it only took $20!” Yep, lost me too.

We lunge off in another direction – “As long as we continue to elect academics to run the country, nothing will change, for they have no life experience.”

That’s a bit of a leap – after all teaching drama and then being elected MP in 2008, to become Liberal leader in 2013 and Prime Minister in 2015 likely means PM Justin Trudeau has plenty of life experience.

But I doubt if he ever drove onto the next gas station because the price of gas was 2.9 cents cheaper.

His life experience, I’ll admit is a bit different from mine and that of most of my Facebook debaters. But I’d also guess carbon taxes on gas prices rankle with us all.

The argument quickly zig-zags to just that – as another complains about a vegan’s suggestions to tax meat because naturally produced cow-methane gas content could drive a car 3.8 km a day.

You see, sounds like any regular pub argument – measured and reasonable. But no, others don’t like that idea – “why do they think taxing steak is gonna make me not buy it? It’s all a money grab.”

A health enthusiast doesn’t agree either – “Deter people from eating such vast quantities of foods that are ultimately not the best for them and also that have such an impact on our environment (farmland requirements, not just the greenhouse gases), but we live in such a consumer culture in North America where everything is done in extremes, at both ends of the spectrum.

People will never learn and we’ll burn the planet to the ground one day.”

Half-way through that, I’m sorry, I don’t know where it went – I was gone.

That is the benefit of Facebook – short exposures to the ludicrous – when seen as a part of a whole because, well, interest fades quickly – but if you wander away a notification will ask you back into the inanity, because well, it helps to pass the time.

These debates never end. Everything seems to trigger a return and we are all susceptible because the price either dropped or rose.

You’re wondering if I have a point – I don’t really, except to wonder how it went from 39 cents a gallon to not even being priced by the gallon anymore, because that price scares all of us.

ahewitson@telus.net

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