Consumers—take your power and make your point

Last Friday we were all supposed to protest the rising cost of oil by not buying gas. I get the concept: if we show the big oil companies that we can do without for a day it might hurt their balance sheet and in return they might consider adjusting prices at the pump. There is a problem, however, with this plan: I am not going to buy gas today and many others will do the same, but tomorrow you will need to get gas so you can carry out your weekend activities.

We can choose not to go out and get gas today or tomorrow or any day that we pick, but it is one day of action that is nothing short of a slow day overall. If we really want to show the oil industry that we can change our habits then we need to do something big, really big! Summer is coming and with it what is referred to as “driving season”, which in and of itself is a ridiculous concept, since we drive all year round. The price of gas is going to go up during driving season because we are expected to take holidays in another part of the province or across the border some place so we can escape for the weekend and still make it home for work on Monday. We spend millions of dollars during the summer months driving to places like the Okanagan where we will enjoy the beaches, wineries and other attractions that make the region so appealing.

This summer we should pick a weekend, a busy one such as Canada Day or August Long weekend. On this weekend rather than travel away from home and spend our money out of town we should choose to stay home. Long weekends are the life blood of the tourism sector and gas stations need this extra revenue to float the slower periods. If we all stayed home had a BBQ in the back yard with some friends and neighbours rather than travel, we would not only stop the extra flow of money to the oil companies, but we would put a strain on the tourism sector.

Before I go further, I am not against tourism, quite opposite actually, I am a strong supporter of tourism. The reason this is a more powerful protest than one day of not buying gas is that there will be millions upon millions of dollars not spent on that long weekend. If the tourism industry is squeezed because of the oil industry’s greed, (and it is greed, just look at the massive profits they continue to make while crying about increasing prices), then the tourism sector will start to put pressure on, not only the oil industry, but government to make changes in the way things are done.

The oil industry is a powerful lobby group but so is the tourism sector, and in B.C. at least it is big business. If the consumer really has the power to make change, this is the time to take that power and start acting on it.