EDITORIAL:Theatre of grilled grocery CEOs matter little to struggling Canadians

The CEOs of Sobeys, Metro and Loblaws were called to Ottawa’s Parliament Hill recently to answer questions about the rising cost of grocery bills in this country.

The above may sound like the setup to a joke found in the pages of an Uncle Buck’s News found at a coffee shop, though sadly there’s no punch line.

The three most powerful men in Canada’s grocery industry really were in Ottawa last week where they were challenged by MPs to explain why they continue to make record profits while citing inflation as the reason behind the rising cost of food.

Their visit made for spectacular television and produced great sound bites. New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh seemed to really stick it to Loblaws CEO Galen Weston when he demanded to know ‘how much profit is too much?’ Singh had in his hand a report that found, based on recent financial information made available, that Loblaws took in a daily profit of $1 million over and above the profits the company saw pre-pandemic.

Not surprisingly Weston, along with Empire Food CEO Michael Medline and Metro CEO Eric La Flèche, denied their companies were driving the spike in food costs. Weston countered that grocery stores boast razor thin profit margins of about four per cent. For context, he said a grocery cart full of $25 worth of food would generate a dollar in profit forLoblaws.

Though they may all operate as (at least publicly) fierce rivals, the three major competitors all appeared united in their rebuking of several MPs assertions that they are overcharging Canadians for necessities of life. Fair of not, Weston has become the ‘face’ of this matter, perhaps in part to the fact that serves as spokesperson in several of his own commercials. Certainly an interesting choice by the advertising department given his overall popularity these days, but then again we’re no marketing expert.

Nor are we experts on the day-to-day profits and spending of Canada’s largest grocers.

Which means we’re left to take the CEOs at their word when they make these claims. Or perhaps we may choose not to take them at their word, but ultimately the result is the same. When three of the largest retailers are all called at the same time to discuss the same issue, that’s a good indication that we as consumers are the boot, wheelbarrow, iron or dog, the CEOs are Rich Uncle Pennybags and they control the Monopoly board.

Ultimately, we’re not all that optimistic much good will come in the wake of last week’s parliamentary committee probe into food inflation. Even if most Canadians feel they’re being gouged, it doesn’t look like anything is actually going to be done about it.

Watching a couple of rich CEOs in the hot seat may have been therapeutic for some. As enjoyable as it may have been to see them face questions we all wish we could ask of them, in the end it doesn’t really help the average Canadian who struggles with the rising cost of everything-particularly the essentials.

-Adam Prudhomme is the Managing Editor of the Napanee Beaver


A member of the Prince Edward County detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police has been commended for his community efforts. On Thursday March 2, 2023 Sgt. Paul Leblanc was awarded the ‘Partnership’ Accolade Award by Command Staff of the Ontario Provincial Police at General Headquarters in Orillia.
Sgt. Leblanc was recognized for his partnership building in 2021 when he utilized Ontario’s Mobilization and Engagement Model (OMEM) of Community Policing to reduce police calls for service at a local youth facility. Sgt. Leblanc was able to utilize data and analytics and engage members from the youth facility, Children’s Aid Society, Ministry of Child and Youth Services, as well as the PEC Police Services Board to name a few. Sgt. Leblanc’s character, commitment, passion and professionalism was noted by community partners which helped him win this prestigious award. Pictured with (right) Leblanc is Detachment Commander Staff Sergeant John Hatch.
(Submitted Photo)