Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre has blasted the Liberal government’s meeting with executives from Canada’s five largest grocery chains to discuss the rising cost of food and how they can cooperate to “stabilize” food prices.
“The large grocery stores have accepted to work with the government of Canada. This is a step in the right direction,” said Industry Minister François-Phillipe Champagne to reporters, following the meeting. “We’ll keep on pushing them. Trust me, this is just the beginning.”
The grocery store chains include Loblaws, Sobeys, Metro, Walmart and Costco and all have agreed to “support” whatever measures are put in place to keep the cost of food affordable.
However, none of these chains, nor the Liberal government have yet provided any specific solutions on how this goal will be attained. Despite this, Champagne called the meeting a success after two hours of what he referred to as “difficult discussions.”
Opposition parties, including the Conservatives, don’t believe the Liberals’ claim that they will be able to make food prices affordable simply by leaning on grocery chains and have called the recent meeting a publicity stunt.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre called the meeting nothing more than a “big photo op,” and referred to the Liberals’ climate change policies as the real root of high food prices.
On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau threatened the grocery store chains, demanding that they stabilize their prices by Thanksgiving, saying that his government wouldn’t rule anything out, including “tax measures.”
Spokesperson for the Retail Council of Canada, Michelle Wasylyshen, said that these companies are “always ready to participate in good faith dialogue about the food industry.”
The Retail Council of Canada represents all five chains and Wasylyshen said she would be reaching out to food suppliers about the issue as well, saying that as much as 80% of checkout prices are costs coming directly from their grocery store’s suppliers.
“There was a lot of ground covered in today’s meeting and we are going to take the time necessary to review those discussions with our members before commenting further,” said Wasylyshen, according to the Toronto Star.