Lazy eyes listen
The Canadian government has targeted grocery stores, threatening them with “big consequences” if they do not provide “relief for Canadians” by stabilising food prices by October 9. This comes as the country’s inflation rate rises and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party trails in the polls.
On Thursday, Trudeau said he expects to “hear from them [the largest grocery chains] by Thanksgiving on what their plan is to stabilise prices,” adding that “if their plan does not provide real relief for the middle class and people working hard to join it, then we will take further action, and we are not ruling anything out, including tax measures.”
Francois-Philippe Champagne, the minister of innovation, science, and industry, told the CBC that he invited the CEOs of the country’s largest grocery chains, Loblaw, Sobeys, Metro, Costco, and Walmart, to a meeting in Ottawa on Monday to come up with “meaningful action that would reduce price inflation in the grocery sector.”
Champagne did not clarify on what kind of “tax measures” the prime minister had in mind, but emphasised that there would be “consequences” if they failed “to come to the table with a meaningful solution.”
The move comes amid rising Canadian pricing and claims that the grocery corporations have made record profits.
“It’s not okay that our biggest grocery stores are making record profits while Canadians are struggling to put food on the table,” Trudeau said during a press conference on Thursday.
The CEOs of the supermarket behemoths refuted the claims of price gouging and profiteering, claiming that “the grocery chains operate with extremely small profit margins and have minimal influence on inflation.”
The Retail Council of Canada, which represents Canada’s largest supermarket chains, contends that focusing simply on grocery stores would not solve the problem of rising food prices because it is only the tip of the iceberg, instead urging the government to “look in the mirror.” According to Karl Littler, senior vice president of public relations at the Retail Council, the government’s policies, such as the rising carbon tax, which affects farmers and food distribution, and limiting the use of plastic to keep food fresh, are primarily to blame for rising prices.
“It’s not going to be a very helpful exercise if they don’t look beneath the surface and what’s actually driving food prices,” Littler said.
The public is increasingly dissatisfied with Trudeau’s management of the economy, with recent surveys showing that only 26% of Canadians would vote Liberal if an election were held today, with the Conservatives leading.