Today's discussion:

The federal food price plan makes no sense. Politically, that may not matter

At first glance, this makes no sense. With a little more thought, it makes even less. Taxing grocers will not ”restore the grocery price stability that Canadians expect,” as they claim. Neither will stern words.

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Luke Smith

“It’s hard to see this as anything but a cynical move to mislead Canadians, cast blame on a politically unpopular group, and claim credit for improvements that were beyond their control.”

Even worse is that it works. We only have ourselves to blame for that.

19th September 2023 at 9:47 am
John Trainor

I live in an area of dairy and chicken production…..the quota system is alive and well here and has turned some lucky ‘farmers’ into elite liberal corporate allies. The cash flow out of these subsidized industrial farms is staggering and consumers pay for it at the local grocery stores……another kicker is that Quebec, of course, gets the lions share of the dairy pie……name a liberal government willing to pull that golden goose out of francophone hands.

19th September 2023 at 12:51 pm
Ted Dixon

Both Supply Management and the Carbon Tax should be stopped. Both are political problems, not real problems, and stopping them both could save families about $7000 each year.

19th September 2023 at 9:44 am
Rob Tyrrell

Does that $7,000 figure include any carbon pricing rebates that families receive?

19th September 2023 at 9:57 am
John Trainor

Liberal equity mathematics…….impose a levy of $10 and give them back 30 cents while claiming good government policies produced the 30 cents…..a liberal will bend over a turd looking for the clean end.

19th September 2023 at 12:59 pm
Rob Tyrrell

Easy now. Do you consider this to be a contribution to a good faith discussion?

Asserting a cost to families without including a significant component is an oversight at best.

I happen to support carbon pricing as a means to incent reductions in carbon emissions based on my current understanding. I am less certain about the Liberal implementation but still support it, especially with the lack of effective alternative actions on offer.

19th September 2023 at 1:42 pm
Paul Crawford

The photo of Trudeau talking to a person in the grocery store ??? Trudeau’s family grocery bill was $52,000 last year for four people and Canadian taxpayers paid for his food. The hypocracy of that photo is unbelieveable!

19th September 2023 at 8:38 am
R. Kellegrew Taxpayers pay for every politicians food. You would have to check everyone to make a comparison. Go back and check Mulroney’s wife’s costs…

I notice many outside of politics tend to write about those in politics. Perhaps they should run for office, get elected and see what they can do…

19th September 2023 at 10:20 am
John Trainor

Really?………MP’s, MLA’s, local council politicians……all have chefs and food supplied outside of their regular pay?……and Mila Mulrooney may have like shoes but her husband wasnt lecturing canadians and grocery executives……

19th September 2023 at 1:04 pm
Gary Oxenforth

Just some more political theatre to fool Central Canadian voters that this corrupt Liberal Gov. is doing something to curb inflation when all along it is their policies that are fueling inflation.

19th September 2023 at 11:03 am
Thomas Poetschke

The Liberal “plan” to combat food price inflation by “getting tough” with big companies is yet another example (as if anyone who is paying attention needs one), of a party and its followers that do not care about the nation; they care solely about themselves and their image.

19th September 2023 at 9:03 am
Rob Tyrrell

The Federal Liberals are playing crass politics with a serious problem for most Canadians. This is not the first time, for them, or other governing parties.

Regardless of the level of frustration, this shorthand and simplistic characterization of a political party and its supporters is on the dangerous road to making them appear as enemies of the state.

There is so much to criticize specifically about the LPC handling of our affairs at the federal level. A compelling and example-filled case can easily be made as to why they should be tossed out.

At a higher level, citizens should consider “the system itself” and how it should be further improved to ensure that Canadian prosperity in the short and long term is properly prioritized by whichever party is in power.

19th September 2023 at 9:33 am
Michael F

Within a year of this government coming to power our neighbour, ally and largest trading partner elected an unstable megalomaniac that proceeded to tear up NAFTA among other things. That alone would be enough to knock any government off course. Then after dealing with that issue they were beset with an unprecedented global health emergency. Have there been problems and some bungling of major files? Absolutely. But Canada has emerged from the Trump years and a global pandemic in pretty decent shape compared to other G7 countries. Memories are short in politics. Even Brian Mulroney gave Trudeau a pat on the back but you would never see that acknowledged here.

19th September 2023 at 1:32 pm
Sean Speer

One wonders about the role that Canada’s limited competition in air travel, groceries and telecoms plays in our high prices. Since we my family and I relocated to the U.S., I’ve been struck at how much more affordable it is to fly for instance. Maybe it isn’t corporate greed per se. Maybe the real problem is market concentration. If so, the solution is to open the market rather than further intervene in it.

19th September 2023 at 3:29 pm
Gordon Divitt

I’m in agreement that the Government’s public whipping of food chain executives is pure theatre but the real problem is that governments, at all levels, can’t admit their inability to change very much of the stuff they claim to control. When they get blamed for bad things that happen to those things over which they claimed control a scapegoat must be identified.

19th September 2023 at 10:55 am
Stuart Thomson

This morning, University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe explains why the government’s plan to “stabilize food prices” makes no sense. The plan seems spurred more by plummeting poll numbers than rising prices but, as Trevor writes, it may not matter:

“But conveniently for the government, that may not matter. There are strong indications that food prices may stabilize soon regardless, allowing the government to claim victory.”

19th September 2023 at 6:32 am
Edith K.

Its a ridiculous political move for the Liberals to appear to be doing something. Makes no common sense at all. Unless you socialize grocery stores or the state takes over them they will pass every tax onto the consumer. If you want to know what a state operated grocery store looks like, look in Russia!!! Who would recommend this?

19th September 2023 at 3:30 pm
Robert Tilden

lots of complaining but not one idea of merit

19th September 2023 at 2:26 pm
Rob Tyrrell

According to the article, no ideas are required. The unusual inflation is primarily a function of domestic and foreign cost inputs on producers. Some/many of these are coming down and we should soon enjoy a return to standard inflation of food prices, and perhaps even an odd reduction!

For an even greater and certain reduction in food prices the practice of supply management could be changed or even retired. That would seem to require a highly unlikely level of bipartisan political will.

19th September 2023 at 2:54 pm
Rob Tyrrell

Great article!
I would like to see an adversarial, but just as data driven, analysis of the share of corporate margins and profit as a component of the overall price increases. I was surprised that it is so low.

Although the cost of inputs is asserted to be the biggest driver, the impact of the various federal enforced carbon taxes is not mentioned?

Takeaways on Food Price Increases…
– The carbon tax is not a main driver. Surprising.
– Additional profit taking is a minor driver. Surprising.
– Supply management is a significant legacy tax on consumers and could be changed if the federal parties unanimously decided it was a net benefit to the country. Even so, there would be high political costs to each mostly (?) in Quebec. Not surprising.

And, of course, when you have a highly consolidated (weak) market, prices tend to rocket up when costs go up and drift gently down, some, when costs go down.

19th September 2023 at 8:08 am
Michael F

The BOC recently stated that the carbon tax affects inflation to the tune 0.15% despite all the howling by conservatives.

19th September 2023 at 12:03 pm

I’m not a farmer.
You should check the prices of milk products and poultry products with the USA when Covid-19’s was on .
You complain about food chain monopolies just wait until you have a few suppliers of theses products.
It is a lot better to have many suppliers then two or three.
Yes these farmers make a good living but try to start farming and go live on a farm and work for a farmer for a year. It is very easy to sit elsewhere and condemn without not being or working a farm.l have I
Worked on a farm in the past and they deserve a good living.
Try fixing manure handling device when it breaks down good luck

19th September 2023 at 7:58 am
Bruce Westmoreland

I will never understand how taxing everything that moves and more makes things less expensive. People who make up these policies must have so much money it doesn’t affect them I guess. Never did I imagine they would tax the air, but they do. Tax the dirt as well.

19th September 2023 at 7:22 am
Gabor Lantos

More of Trudeau’s nonsense with deleterious economic effects, and more wedge and divisive social effects.

20th September 2023 at 12:21 am
Paul Nesbitt

The high food prices have only 1 real source, inflation. Why inflation? The cost of everything we buy has to be transported. The carbon tax imposed by the Liberals twice now and more on the way, has been directly transferred to the price of our food, commodities and everything we purchase. Did we think the businesses would pay for it? The woke “climate emergency” agenda imposed by Trudeau, the Liberals and the NDP has come home to roost. This country is a resource country, imposing taxes on our fuel could only result in this happening. Harper (and now Danielle Smith) are right, move to a sustainable future, but keep people employed and pricing down. The Liberals and Trudeau bought and paid for this mess.

19th September 2023 at 7:47 pm

It would be really interesting if someone could break down how much carbon taxes are being levied at each stage, to show how much our prices have been affected.

19th September 2023 at 10:57 pm
Cheryl Kilboy

It’s not the fault of the grocery stores!

19th September 2023 at 5:35 pm
Rick Ryerson

Why do all three main political parties still support supply management for milk, eggs and I think chickens.

19th September 2023 at 7:36 am
John Trainor

Because they are terrified of the nasty quebec reaction where supply management is alive and well.

19th September 2023 at 1:07 pm
Michael F

Because it supports farmers and keeps the industry healthy as well as prices stable. We may pay higher prices for these products but Canadian dairy is also hormone and antibiotic free compared to the mass produced corporate agribusiness products in the US.

19th September 2023 at 1:25 pm

Our prime minister is the blame for high food prices by implementing the carbain taxes. Right is wrong wrong is right

19th September 2023 at 7:14 am

Beyond the supply managed sectors, food price inflation is largely determined by underlying global commodity prices (in US dollars). But as those input prices ease the opportunity for elevated profit taking by food manufacturers, importers and grocers is more likely as they try to hold the selling price levels to which consumers have become accustomed. As they say in the food industry, “inflation is your friend”.

19th September 2023 at 7:37 pm
Rod H

It would be great to show the example of New Zealand ending agricultural subsidies in the 80’s after facing deficit spending and needing serious reform. After all the doomsday predictions didn’t come to pass, things settled down and now New Zealand is an agricultural powerhouse and sometimes compared as the Saudi of dairy.

19th September 2023 at 6:14 pm
Michael F

“It’s hard to see this as anything but a cynical move to mislead Canadians, cast blame on a politically unpopular group, …”

Poilievre just cruised to the leadership of the conservative party by wielding this populist truncheon. Cynically appealing to his base and stoking rage by calling everything in Canada broken and blaming boogeymen like the WEF, Laurentian Elites and gatekeepers. All this while he has been part of the political elite for 20 years. No different that the good ol’ boy image George W Bush cultivated despite being a Yale educated scion of a wealthy political family. I personally have zero sympathy for the Westons but let’s be clear here, all politicians use their bully pulpit.

19th September 2023 at 12:15 pm