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UPDATE: Price of Pierre too expensive for Canadians, says NDP's Singh

NDP leader says neither the Conservatives' Pierre Poilievre nor Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will do anything to fight high prices for consumers.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh visits Thunder Bay on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (Leith Dunick,

THUNDER BAY – The price of Pierre is too expensive for Canadians, says Jagmeet Singh.

The NDP leader, in Thunder Bay for the past two days, said Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre would cozy up to big grocery and the telecom giants, rather than try to force them to lower prices.

Singh, to a lesser extent, also criticized Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for failing to rein in grocery, cell phone and internet costs for average Canadians, promising that an NDP government would take the companies head on should they be chosen by voters to lead the country in the next election.

He cited legislation his party has introduced in the House of Commons as an example of what an NDP government would do to cut costs for Canadians.

The bill, which has passed second reading, lays out a clear path to affordability, Singh said, taking questions from local and national media during a stop at OPSEU headquarters in the city.

Stiffer penalties for companies that have been found to be gouging consumers is a good start, he said, pointing to the bread price-fixing scandal that saw prices artificially inflated following an agreement between producers and major grocers.

The fines simply weren’t enough.

“Those fines are far too low. They’re not a deterrent. My bill says that if a company or a series of companies make a benefit, that the penalties should be triple the benefit that they made. So, if they make $5 billion off of Canadians, my bill proposes we should impose a $15-billion sentence on those companies – so that’s a real deterrent for them not to rip you off,” Singh said.

The NDP leader also wants to strengthen the Competition Bureau to allow it to investigate charges of price-fixing quickly and have more power to compel companies to provide them with the proper information to determine whether or not consumers are being gouged.

“Better protection for consumers means lower prices for consumers and takes away powers from these large monopolies, really, that are really driving up the cost of food,” Singh said.

It’s also time to stop the monopolies, he added.

“Right now, there are three grocery corporations that run most of the grocery stores that you go to and that are charging you so much. That’s Loblaws, Metro and Sobeys. When it comes to cell phones, it’s basically Bell, Rogers and Telus. My bill proposes that we would make it very hard, almost impossible for companies to merge, unless they could prove concretely that it benefits the consumer,” Singh said.

Poillievre and Trudeau won’t do that, he said.

“Let’s be clear. Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives will ever do anything about this. They let these big corporations rip you off. We’re the only ones standing up and saying corporate greed is driving up your prices.”

Kenora's Conservative MP, Eric Melillo, the shadoww minister for FedNor, said Singh is only propping up the Trudeau government in order to qualify for a pension, payable to MPs who have served six or more years, calling the NDP leader a sell-out. 

“For many Canadians, life has never been as expensive as it is under the costly coalition of Trudeau and Singh. While Canadians struggle with a historic cost of living crisis, Singh and the NDP hiked the carbon tax and supported $61 billion of new inflationary spending in the budget which will cost families $3,687 in new government debt and spending," Melillo said in a statement sent to TBNewswatch.

“The NDP need to stop backing the Liberal government so Canadians can have a carbon tax election and elect a Common Sense Conservative government that will axe Trudeau’s tax, fix his broken systems, and bring home powerful pay cheques for Canadians.”-

Asked about the impact of the carbon tax and how an NDP government would handle it going forward, Singh said the current approach puts too much burden on working people and not enough on the biggest polluters.

“We haven’t changed our position, but we do want a plan that addresses our concern that workers shouldn’t be bearing the burden of it, and life should be affordable. It shouldn’t be a question between affordability and fighting the climate crisis. And that’s what it’s come down to,” Singh said.

Ultimately, something he said Poilievre will never discuss, is that grocery, telecommunication and oil and gas companies are posting record profits, at the expense of the average Canadian.

“Who is ripping you off? It’s the corporate grocery stores. They’re making more money than they’ve ever made,” said Singh, who nevertheless plans to continue supporting the minority Liberal government, saying it's allowed his party to achieve a number of its legislative goals. 

This story has been updated with comment from Conservative MP Eric Melillo

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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