Bringing fairness to pumps

To the federal government, for introducing legislation clamping down on service station operators who gouge customers.

Bouquet…

To the federal government, for introducing legislation clamping down on service station operators who gouge customers.

Introduced on Thursday, the Fairness at the Pumps Act will impose fines against ripoff service stations of up to $50,000.

Some customers are short-changed because improperly calibrated pumps give out false readings and motorists are being charged more for less.

In 2008, a newspaper report studied 200,000 inspections by Measurement Canada and found three-quarters of the pumps were shorting drivers in the retailer’s favour by 4.5 per cent or more.

The new legislation will increase checks on the industry and make retailers more accountable for the accuracy of their pumps, whether or not the errors were intentional.

Today, with gas prices bouncing back and forth on almost a weekly basis, customers wonder if the pumps are accurately adjusted to keep up with the erratic price changes.

Federal Minister Tony Clement, in announcing the new act, admitted the target is a “small percentage” of operators. But he warned: “To all those chisellers who might be listening in, we’re coming after you. We’re going to be fining you, we’re going to be inspecting you and we just will not tolerate this in our society.”

Those tough words are a start. But the government has yet to address the high gas prices in general — the chief complaint among motorists.

Dart…

To those people who have too much time on their hands and use it to call police to break up a street hockey game.

If the game was being played on a freeway during rush-hour traffic, the complaint would be legitimate. But the cops have much more important things to do than referee a hockey game played with a ball on a side residential street.

These games, once ice on the local rinks has turned to mush, are ingrained in Canadian culture. And there is an unwritten rule. When a vehicle approaches, the players yell: “Car!” The game stops, the nets are pulled away, and the vehicle is allowed to pass. And usually the motorists give the players a friendly wave. Then the game continues.

Recently, in the community on Enfield near Halifax, some frumpy neighbour called on the RCMP to break up a street hockey game. (Would those neighbours prefer these young players occupy their time by turning to petty crime instead?)

Nova Scotia Transportation Minister Bill Estabrooks called the complaints “frivolous.”

“The kids that I know in the community, when they see you coming, after they invite you to play for a moment or two, they get out of the way,” said Estabrooks. “It’s a tradition in this country and it should be allowed to continue.”

Estabrooks said RCMP have more important things to do than stopping children from playing hockey on the streets. “Ball hockey is part of the right of growing up (in Canada) and the right of being on your own street.”

Amazingly, the noise and public safety issues related to road hockey have created controversy in municipalities across Canada.

But hockey greats like Sidney Crosby and Bobby Orr have protested municipal bylaws aimed at banning street hockey.

It’s so ironic that some communities demand tough rules to bring youth crime under control, yet frown upon an activity that keeps those kids out of trouble.

What would Ron McLean and Don Cherry say if street hockey was banned?

Rick Zemanek is an Advocate editor.

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