In early June 2022, various social media users posted tweets that stated record high gas prices in the U.S. paled in comparison to prices in Canada, and thus, U.S. President Joe Biden couldn't be blamed for Americans' pain at the pump.
The motivation of the posts appeared to be to defend Biden, a Democrat, from political attacks from Republicans over gas price increases. Here is one such example posted by American comedian Chip Franklin, addressed to Fox News primetime host Tucker Carlson:
It's true that average fuel prices in Canada and globally are high, as the result of a culmination of circumstances, which we will lay out below. But $9 a gallon in Canada?
In short, Canadians on average aren't paying $9 a gallon in U.S. dollars, which many may assume by looking at such posts. When you take the currency exchange rate into account, some Canadians are paying close to $9 a gallon in Canadian dollars, depending on their location. We will explain below.
For starters, Canadians measure gas in liters instead of gallons, and the average gas price is just that — an average. Like in the U.S., gas prices in Canada vary from one locale to another.
A liter is, rounded down, 0.26 of a gallon, or just over a quarter of a gallon.
According to the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), the Canadian equivalent of the the Auto Club, the average gas price in that country as of June 14, 2022, was $2.09 a liter in Canadian dollars. That evens out to almost $8 a gallon, again in Canadian dollars.
When you factor in the exchange rate, one Canadian dollar is worth about 77 U.S. cents.
We used the tool USGAS.ca to convert the price of gas in Canadian dollars per liter to U.S. dollars per gallon, and it turns out $2.09 a liter is $6.13 per gallon in U.S. dollars.
That is higher than the average U.S. gas price on June 14, 2022, of $5.02 per gallon but nowhere near $9 U.S. dollars.
According to CAA, fuel prices in Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, skyrocketed to $2.32 a liter (rounded up to the nearest cent) as of this writing, which in Canadian dollars is $8.77 a gallon. Converted to U.S. dollars, that's $6.81 a gallon.
Overall, it's tricky to compare average gas prices in one country to those in another, because factors like taxes on gas, whether oil is produced domestically, and the amount that citizens in each respective country drive can lead to wide variability. For example, in Europe, many countries have good mass transit and generally higher gas prices than in the U.S., regardless of the current price spike.
That said, it's true that the crisis in rising gas prices is global in nature. According to the Washington Post, the average price of gas in the U.S. went from $1.94 in April 2020 to $5.01 as of June 13, 2022. The cause?
A rare combination of economic and geopolitical forces now manifest themselves at the gas pump. The economy’s rapid recovery from the pandemic created more demand for gasoline, pushing prices higher. Then, the invasion of Ukraine led to a global backlash against Russia, which produces more oil than all but two other countries. So prices went higher again.
According to a list produced by the financial site Kiplinger, people in Hong Kong are paying the highest gas prices in the world. As of May 30, 2022, the price of gas there was $11.21 per gallon, converted to U.S. dollars per gallon.
Bhattarai, Abha. “Pump Shock: Why Gas Prices Are so High.” Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/interactive/2022/why-gas-prices-so-high/. Accessed 14 June 2022.
“Gas Prices Around the World.” Kiplinger, https://www.kiplinger.com/personal-finance/shopping/cars/604410/gas-prices-around-the-world. Accessed 14 June 2022.
Koeze, Ella, and Clifford Krauss. “Why Gas Prices Are So High.” The New York Times, 14 June 2022. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/06/14/business/gas-prices.html.