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NDP Leader Calls for Competition Bureau to Probe Loblaw’s Partnership with Rogers and Bell

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

Canadians are getting ripped off when they go to the grocery stores, they ripped off their cell phone fees because we’re paying 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.”

On May 9, the head of the telecom firm Québecor wrote a letter to Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne informing him that Loblaw had decided to “prematurely end” the company’s contract for wireless devices and services at kiosks inside Loblaws grocery stores.

According to CBC News,Pierre Péladeau said Loblaw had chosen instead to partner with Glentel, a retailer owned by Rogers and Bell. He said the move was anti-competitive and goes against the interests of Canadian consumers.
The kiosks, called The Mobile Shop, are in 180 Loblaws locations across Canada. They sell cell phone plans from providers like Telus, Rogers, Bell and Québecor’s Freedom Mobile.

Calls for Stronger Anti-Competitive Laws

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

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“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.”

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