No collusion. Just profiteering.

From The Globe and Mail:

The federal competition watchdog has ruled that pump prices rose dramatically last year because of low inventories and high crude prices not because of any price-fixing by oil companies.

We found no evidence to suggest a national conspiracy by gasoline companies to co-ordinate price increases, said Sheridan Scott, commissioner of Canada’s Competition Bureau.

The ruling marks the fifth time in the past 15 years that the Competition Bureau has investigated pump prices.

Each probe has come to the conclusion that there was no price-fixing or other anti-competitive activity and that the battle for motorists’ business at the retail level remains intense.

The prices at all gas stations in Ontario rise and fall at the same moment, and there is rarely more than a few tenths of a cent difference between any of them, but let’s assume they’re not colluding.

Maybe we should be investigating gouging, based on the fact that the price will often shoot up by as much as 40 cents per gallon, as it did yesterday. That must be because of the intense competition.

I guess we should be happy that it is only 90 cents a liter. I find it odd though that the price was 96 cents a year ago when the price of oil was much lower. Maybe that was gouging.

I assume that an oil company would not sell gas at a loss. That means that with oil over $50 a barrel, and gasoline prices that two days ago were 80 cents per liter, the oil companies must be able to make a profit based on that 80 cent price. So that extra 10 cents a liter must be a really nice bonus for them.

How times have changed.

I just noticed this line in an editorial in my local newspaper, The Record:

What this poll means is that from now on politicians of all parties are going to have to appear to be more accountable and watch payments going to friendly firms. Parties should realize that they will pay a price for unduly favouring their friends.

Remember the days when politicians actually were accountable, and didn’t pay off their friends?

Since you’re already here.

Casinos in Ontario, Canada will soon have gambling addiction counselling centers:

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. is setting up information centres at two of the province’s casinos that will be operated by independent counsellors who specialize in gambling addictions.

“All Ontarians share a common interest in reducing the risk of problem gambling, and we recognize (the gaming corporation) has an important role to play to that end,” spokesman Alan Berdowski said Thursday in a statement.

The centres are part of a new code of conduct by the government-owned gaming corporation to address growing concerns about gambling addicts.

Future plans include alcohol addiction counselling centers in local bars, and couselling for former criminals after hours in banks.

Where do I sign?

HP is giving Mark V. Hurd, its new chief executive, quite the welcome:

Hurd’s package includes a $2 million signing bonus, a $2.75 million cash “relocation allowance,” 1.15 million stock options valued by the company at $6.9 million and 400,000 restricted HP shares worth about $8 million.

In addition to the relocation allowance, Hurd will also receive free housing for a year and a four-year “mortgage interest subsidy.” There will also be “no limit on the weight of household goods” he chooses to ship to California, according to the agreement.

In addition, the contract calls for HP to reimburse Hurd for up to a 20 percent decline in the value of 850,184 shares he owns in the firm he is leaving behind, Dayton, Ohio-based NCR Corp.

In addition to the signing money, Hurd’s contract calls for an annual salary of $1.4 million, an annual bonus of at least $2.8 million and as much as $8.4 million, and long-term incentive payments of between $4.2 million and $12.6 million per year. HP spokeswoman Monica Sarkar said the long-term incentive payments are not guaranteed.

In the employment agreement, HP said 450,000 of the stock options, valued at $2.7 million, and the 400,000 restricted shares were awarded “to make up for compensation forfeited from” Hurd’s previous employer. HP spokeswoman Sarkar said the amounts were based on what Hurd was “leaving on the table” at NCR.

I especially liked the free housing for a year and four-year “mortgage interest subsidy”. It’s tough to make mortgage payments when you’re scraping by on just $1.4 million per year. At least the $2.75 million relocation allowance will help out a bit.

Am I ever glad I don’t own HP stock.

Watching? Or waiting?

According to Statistics Canada, Canadians are watching more news:

According to the government agency, TV watchers in this country saying they are spending an increasing amount time taking in news and current affairs programs, but less on sports programming.

Perhaps Canadians have just left their televisions tuned to CBC, waiting to hear the familiar Hockey Night in Canada there when it plays again, while they go about their lives.

(Link from Angry in the Great White North)