NDP at corporate greed, tax loopholes in Opposition Day push to bring down food prices

The federal NDP used its opposition day to push for further action on high food prices, including closing corporate tax loopholes and forcing CEOs to “pay what they owe.”

NDP agriculture critic Alistair MacGregor sponsored the motion Thursday morning. It followed his request for a study of inflation in the food supply chain and the profits of large grocery stores, a motion passed by the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food Wednesday evening.

While food prices dominated the discussion, MPs from multiple parties brought up high fuel and housing costs.

“The reality is that excessive corporate profits, that out-of-control inequality, is harming our country,” said NDP MP Niki Ashton. “These excessive corporate profits are fuelling inflation.”

The motion calls on the government to recognize that corporate greed is a significant driver of inflation, support Canadians by closing loopholes that allowed CEOs and big corporations to “avoid $30 billion in taxes in 2021,” ask the Competition Bureau to investigate grocery chain profits and support the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food in its study.

The study will call witnesses, including grocery store CEOs, to testify before the committee.

During the debate, NDP MPs, including MacGregor, referenced recent comments by Shell CEO Ben van Beurden, who said governments may need to tax companies to protect the poor. Reuters reported van Beurden’s comments, made at the Energy Intelligence Forum in London on Tuesday.

NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice also pointed to United Nations secretary-general António Guterres’ recent appeal for developed countries to tax the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies.

Canada’s National Observer asked Finance Canada about the possibility of a windfall tax on oil and gas profits in early August. The department responded with an emailed statement outlining previously announced measures, including a luxury tax on vehicles, the Canada Recovery Dividend and a corporate income tax increase. Many of these measures were referenced by Liberal MPs throughout the debate.

“We need fair corporate taxation,” NDP MP Don Davies told the House.

Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre said he agrees with most of the motion but that it doesn’t go far enough because it ignores “government greed.”

“I want to compliment the NDP on bringing forward, quite frankly, a very reasonable motion,” said Liberal MP Mark Gerretsen. He added that it is a welcome departure from the slogan-based motions the Conservatives introduce.

Natasha Bulowski / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer

Natasha Bulowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Canada's National Observer