Following top-level meetings in Ottawa, CEOs of Canada’s largest supermarket chains have promised to ‘work with government’ to find ways to lower food prices. There have been such conferences in the past. Also such promises. So far, nothing’s happened…
Galen Weston, Chairman of Loblaws, a divsion of Weston Foods: Appears less than happy
to be testifying before a Canadian Parliamentary committee on food prices…
Top dogs from Loblaws, Sobeys, Metro, Costco and Walmart met with Canada’s Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said Monday. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland was there to greet them, but did not stay for the substantive talks that reportedly followed.
Rather than inviting the grocery moguls to meet, Champaign summoned them. He obviously expected tough talks and entrenched positions all around.
“As you would expect, those are difficult discussions but much-needed discussions at a time that Canadians are feeling the high prices of groceries,” Champagne told reporters after the meeting. […] I appreciate the constructive nature of the discussions we had. Bottom line is that they agreed to work with the government to stabilize food prices in Canada.”
That means nothing
Of course, that means nothing. Just like the Prime Minister saying that ‘food prices are top of mind’ as Parliament returns from its summer break. They’re simply position statements – at best, wishful thinking – on the part of their declarers. And not a single hint that any actuion will be taken as a result.
The same old story
It’s the same old story. The government summons industry leaders to the capital to discuss urgent economic issues and the industrialists stonewall the officials.
When they were simply invited to testify about high food prices, supermarket reps bobbed and wove like title-fight boxers trying to avoid answering the tough questions, much less taking any responsibility for the crisis.
They basically laid off the blame on forces outside their control. Nonsense.
Most of the major supermarket chains have been reporting record profits over the past year, in spite of al the supply chain issues and economic hurdles they allege are in their way.
Yet they admit no shame over the fact that record numbers of Canadians (and Brits, and Americans) are turning to food banks to get enough to eat. If millions can’t afford supermarket prices, how are the grocers making their profits? Charging those who can afford food criminally high prices.
I use the term ‘criminal’ not to suggest that the big grocers are committing any actual, statutory crimes. But it’s considered a crime against humanity by some social thinkers to cater to the ‘rich’ and abandon the poor to seek charity from food banks, churches and other community-based groups.
Wait! you say… Most supermarkets collect donations for their local food banks. True, but the grocers themselves don’t contribute, or pay for the contributions. The customers do. When major contributions or donations to food banks take place, they’re almost always from businesses in other economic sectors. Or food/fund-raising efforts by community groups.
No politician has the guts
Politicians need the good will and financial support of business and industry to get elected in the first place, and to get re-elected the intervals prescribed in our laws and Constitution.
If any elected official – especially at the Federal level – dared to condemn the supermarket industry for high prices, much less demand that it lower prices for the good of the people who elected them, they would find the massive might of the industry and it’s collective billions of dollars working against them at election time. T’was ever thus…
The question is
Should the government continue to put the interests of big business before those of the people? Especially in the case of food, which is a fundamental need? *
Muse on that…
~ Maggie J.
* I’ll be pleased to debate any supermarket industry leader who wants to dispute what I’ve said in this post. Just post a comment below to start the ball rolling..