Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today with respect to a question I asked in the House of Commons on February 25 with regard to oil and gas prices and the need to have some expansion with regard to authority and accountability on this file.
We noted that oil and gas prices rose by 2% in January, the highest rate increase in more than two years. Even the Bank of Canada has noted that falling oil prices have not been matched by lower prices at the pump. New Democrats asked the government to investigate this, and we put forth two suggestions, one for an ombudsman and the other for a petroleum monitoring agency. I was pleased to hear the minister's response in the sense that the government is looking to work toward solutions and is open to suggestions.
In the House of Commons, numerous suggestions have been made over the years on this particular file. In fact, I wanted to bring them here today, whether from the Liberals or the Conservatives, but I was concerned about the carbon footprint of the truck that would be necessary to deliver the documents that I have been accumulating over the years.
The fact of the matter is that we have a really good opportunity to do something, and I am hoping that the current government returns to where it was at one particular point in time.
At one point in time, the Liberal government, in its previous manifestation, was interested in this issue and had actually adopted some very good policies, but those policies were later nixed by the Conservatives and were never put in place.
In particular, we could have a Canadian weekly petroleum status report that would go to the petroleum monitoring agency or the ombudsman, whatever we want to call it, as a third party. This would be very similar to the U.S. Department of Energy's weekly petroleum status report. This report would be published every week, which creates accountability. If there were a problem with it, there would then be some accountability to follow up.
This would also be in line with pushing back against some of the privatization that has occurred and the potential lines of conflict. Right now, Kent Marketing and M.J. Ervin and Associates actually do some of this reporting, but they also have clients that include big oil, so the reporting is basically done through a connection in the industry. That arrangement is similar to the safety management system, whereby companies have to self-report their errors, and that is not acceptable for consumers, because it does not allow for accountability.
The problem is that when there are big upswings, consumers pay for them at the end of the day and do not see the benefits. Even if prices go down one day, within a week or sometimes later, the profit margins still increase, and that is the problem. There is no accountability. Accountability through an ombudsperson who would have authority and third party independence would be extremely important to the process.
That is just one of the simple solutions that the NDP is proposing. This is done in the United States, and it adds a layer of accountability that we do not have right now.
The self-policing model for gas pricing is over. It is done for. We now have an opportunity. We had an opportunity in the past but never got it up and running properly because the Conservatives actually nixed that idea. It came from a former Liberal member over on that side who is known as one of the country's best experts on this subject matter, if not the best expert.
I would encourage the minister and the parliamentary secretary to take us up on these suggestions, which have been tabled in motions in the House of Commons multiple times, and do something for Canadians and their pocketbooks.