The Liberals say the Conservative government has been deliberately setting higher gas prices to bring in more tax revenue, and they believe they have evidence to prove it.
Gas prices in Nova Scotia are set on a weekly basis through regulation. Documents obtained through freedom of information requests by the Liberals show the Service Nova Scotia minister picks one price out of three options.
In every case, the two options not picked are blacked out because they are deemed to be advice to the minister, which is exempt from freedom of information laws.
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said the documents show the Tories were picking the more expensive option.
“This government is clearly picking the highest option,” he said. “If they weren’t, why wouldn’t they release it? Why would they hide information that would prove to Nova Scotians that they were giving them a deal?”
Premier Rodney MacDonald repeatedly told reporters at a news conference Thursday there were not three options.
“There is a single formula which is fair both to rural retailers and consumers,” MacDonald said. “(McNeil is) grasping for straws in the middle of an election and it doesn’t surprise me.”
When reporters followed by asking why the government wouldn’t release the uncensored documents, MacDonald said, “We don’t determine what goes out with respect to that. That’s up to the freedom of information officers.”
However, former review officer Darce Fardy confirmed the Tories are not bound by the freedom of information officer’s decision and could release the documents.
When this was posed to the premier he instead talked about the Liberal plan to remove gas regulation and how it would hurt rural gas stations.
“If Mr. McNeil wants to go down a road where we close rural stations, I simply don’t agree with that,” MacDonald said. “I think it’s the wrong approach.”