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Cost of Food

September 28, 2023

My question is for the Leader of the Government. Leader, when Minister Champagne summoned the heads of the major grocery chains, he claimed that, thanks to him, prices would go down by Canadian Thanksgiving.

After the meeting last week, the minister’s objective changed. He now wants price increases to keep pace with inflation. In other words, the minister is telling us that he wants inflation to keep pace with inflation. Senator Gold, in concrete terms, how much can Canadians expect prices to drop by Canadian Thanksgiving?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ + ]

Thank you for the question. Unsurprisingly, I don’t have a precise answer to that. It’s not up to the government to set prices, unless you’re suggesting that the government take full control of the economy, which is not on the government’s radar, nor on that of your political party.

For the first time, the minister successfully convened major business leaders in order to underscore how important it is that they step up and come back with a serious program to address the challenge of rising grocery costs for Canadians. Furthermore, as I said last week, other players in the supply chain, in the context of food prices, will no doubt be called upon by this government to give Canadians a little relief when it comes to the rising cost of groceries.

Well, that’s not exactly what the minister pledged to do. He said he was going to lower prices. Clearly, Minister Champagne has no idea what he’s doing. He even told us he was going to talk to his Japanese counterpart about Canadian grocery prices, as if Japan had anything to do with the prices people are paying at Metro or Provigo.

The minister is even talking about taxing grocers, as though adding a new tax would drive operating costs up and thereby lower prices. I get the feeling the minister is using smoke and mirrors to distract us. Mr. Leader, doesn’t it seem as though the government is taking Canadians for fools?

Senator Gold [ + ]

Frankly and respectfully, dear colleague, the minister has been consulting his counterparts in other countries and researching what’s happening in France, England and elsewhere because he wants to find out what other countries are doing in response to the rising cost of living, a problem they all face. That is what the government and the minister are doing as they search for appropriate solutions to implement here in Canada.

As I already explained, the government is waiting for the major chains to respond before it decides what to do. They’re waiting for them and for companies largely responsible for setting the price of eggs, milk and other foods to come back with an action plan. That’s when the government will decide what to do.

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