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Gas retailers ordered to pay out for price-fixing

By Tyler Renaud  [1]

BELLEVILLE – Four gas retailers are paying out settlements for fixing the price of gas in Belleville, Kingston and Brockville in 2007.

The retailers – Canadian Tire [2], Pioneer [3], Suncor Energy Products [4] and Mr. Gas [5] – have been fined and forced to pay out $1.3 million in settlements. The court orders came against Canadian Tire on June 4, 2013, Suncor on Aug. 28, 2014, Mr. Gas on Dec. 5, 2014, and Pioneer on May 7, 2015.

“The allegations are that the named gas companies got together and made certain agreements about prices,” Charles Wright, a partner at the Siskinds legal firm, told QNet News Wednesday. Siskinds, which is based in London, Ont., was the firm that launched the class-action lawsuit [6].

“Competitors are not allowed to talk to each other about pricing or co-ordinating pricing in any way under the Competition Act [7],” Wright explained.

The fixed-price gas was sold between May 2007 and November 2007 in the three Eastern Ontario cities. According to Wright, another gas retailer, whose name he declined to provide, blew the whistle on the illegal actions.

“In this circumstance, one of the companies discovered there’s conduct taking place that is contradictory to the law and took it to the Competition Bureau [8],” Wright said. “They have an amnesty program that if a company goes to them with a report of something that’s happening that shouldn’t be happening, they will not fine them in any way.”

If you think you have bought gas from one of the retailers during the period in question, you can make a claim by visiting the Eastern Ontario Retail Gas Price Fixing Class Action [9] website. Those looking to make claims will need to provide contact information, mailing address, proof of purchase (proof of residency, receipts, invoices, bank statements, etc.) and proof of total value purchased. The deadline for claims is May 27.