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N.B. gas prices hit a record-breaking $2, sparking heated debate in the legislature


New Brunswick motorists received another wake-up call Thursday as gas prices hit a record-breaking $2.

Gas prices increased by 10.6 cents overnight, bringing the new maximum price for regular self-serve to $2.02 per litre.

The province now has the highest fuel prices in the Maritimes.

Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia are scheduled to see their prices adjusted at midnight.

“It's ridiculous that it's so high,” said Anita Légère, a motorist in Fredericton. “I have a small car, but even my small car takes a heck of a lot of gas ... the price has just gone crazy. So I’m not travelling as much as I would have normally.”

The record prices led to a fiery debate during question period inside the New Brunswick legislature Thursday.

“The premier went to the media yesterday talking about some rebate that he's thinking about, but he said, ‘We're not sure, we don't have all the information,’ because he wants to wait another quarter,” said Roger Melanson, the Liberal opposition leader.

“Premier, you know what happened the last quarter of the last fiscal. How much more revenues did the province make because of pricing of fuel going up?”

The governing Conservatives fired back, pointing their finger at the federal government’s carbon tax.

“What's staggering about it is the federal government actually implemented a policy that is working as it was intended,” said Attorney General Ted Flemming.

“However, it is lunacy. It is harming New Brunswick, it is harming the people. Phone your buddy Trudeau, and tell him to fix it!”

Later, when speaking to reporters, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs gave a little more information on the refund he proposed Wednesday, but admitted it’s still theoretical.

“It will be targeted. I mean, I think it's important to be targeted,” said Higgs. “Now, where the best areas to target, I'm not going to guess on that, I think at this time we need to target it on the people who need it the most.”

Higgs said he’s waiting to see what the HST and gas tax revenues look like at the end of this quarter -- June 30th -- and if the volume of fuel consumers are buying has dipped with prices increasing.

Some sort of rebate does have the support of the provincial Liberals and Greens, so long as it comes from provincial tax revenues and not Ottawa’s carbon tax.

Meanwhile, Nova Scotia is writing one-time cheques to people on income assistance and residents who use the heating assistance rebate program – an announcement made in March.

However, a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Department of Finance and Treasury Board said Thursday that more assistance could be on the horizon.

“Government has not ruled out additional supports in the future and we continue to keep a close eye on the impacts of rising prices to our province’s economy, budget, and people,” said Andrew Preeper. Top Stories

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