NDP Leader Wants Competition Bureau to Investigate Loblaw Partnership With Rogers/Bell

NDP Leader Wants Competition Bureau to Investigate Loblaw Partnership With Rogers/Bell
Federal New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh speaks to delegates on the final day of the B.C. NDP convention at the Victoria Conference Centre in Victoria, B.C., on Nov. 19, 2023. (The Canadian Press/Chad Hipolito)
Matthew Horwood

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling for the competition commissioner to investigate allegations that the Loblaw grocery chain and a company owned by telecom companies Rogers and Bell are engaging in price fixing.

“Canadians are getting ripped off when they go to the grocery stores,” while also paying cell phone fees that are “some of the highest in the world,” Mr. Singh said during a May 22 press conference.

“And now we’ve learned that Loblaws is teaming up with Rogers and Bell to rip off Canadians even more with their cell phone prices by limiting choices.”

Mr. Singh was responding to a May 9 letter from Québecor telecom CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau to Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne informing him that Loblaw had decided to “prematurely terminate” a contract between its in-store kiosks, called The Mobile Shop, and Québecor’s Freedom Mobile subsidiary.
Mr. Péladeau said Loblaw is instead partnering with Glentel, owned by Rogers and Bell. “It is imperative that action be taken to preserve a fair competitive environment in the telecommunications and grocery businesses, in the best interests of Canadians,” he said.

Calls for Stronger Anti-Competitive Laws

Mr. Singh called for stronger anti-competition laws to protect consumers and for quicker investigations of “anti-competitive behaviours.” He also blamed the Liberal government for being slow to act.

“The Liberals and Justin Trudeau act like they have no power to stop this. They absolutely do have the power and the responsibility to stop big corporations from ripping off Canadians,” he said.

Mr. Singh mentioned the 2023 Canada Bread incident in which the company agreed to pay $50 million after admitting it colluded with a competitor to fix bread prices and said he has concerns that grocery stores and telecommunications companies are colluding to fix grocery and cell phone prices.

In 2023 the NDP leader introduced a private member’s bill to increase penalties for price fixing and give the competition bureau more powers to protect smaller grocery stores.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was asked about the issue at a May 22 press conference and said the Liberal government had made “a historic, once-in-a-generation change to competition law in Canada.” The government amended the Competition Act last year to strengthen the bureau’s ability to promote competition and prevent anti-competitive mergers and conduct.

“The reality is, these changes are going to make life more affordable everyday for Canadians,” she said. “They’re going to make it more affordable to buy your groceries. They’re going to make your phone bill more affordable.”

Rogers, Bell, and Québecor did not respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment before press time.

The Canadian Press contributed to this report.