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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh makes campaign-style stop in Nanaimo to push for lower grocery prices

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As grocery store prices continue to take a major bite out of most people's budgets, federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was in Nanaimo Monday, taking aim at that grocery store sticker shock.

“At a time when Canadians are having the most difficulty ever buying groceries, the fact that grocery stores have chosen that time to increase their margins is evidence of greed,” said Singh from Maffeo Sutton Park.

In July, the Liberal government rolled out one-time rebates of several hundred dollars to some 11 million eligible Canadians -- essentially a rebranded GST rebate aimed at offsetting the cost of food.

Singh said more help is needed, and pointed to greater transparency about stores’ profits and increasing competition to drive down prices.

“There’s lots of ways to put in place an excess profit tax, we've looked at lots of countries that have done so,” said Singh.

University of Victoria business professor Mark Colgate says high grocery costs are especially acute on Vancouver Island – and cites a couple of reasons for that.

“There is just a very small number of major grocery stores on the Island -- less than you would see on the Lower Mainland, and when you have higher transportation costs and less competition, that’s going to lead to higher prices,” said Colgate.

Singh’s appearance and campaign-style pledge came on traditional NDP turf that he wants to protect, said political scientist Hamish Telford.

“He doesn’t want to give any free ground to the Conservatives and Pierre Poilievre -- who have been riding high in the polls,” said The University of Fraser Valley professor. “This is in part a defensive move by Jagmeet Singh.”

Also on Monday, Prime Minister Trudeau visited a farmer's store -- where he vowed to prioritize affordability when parliament resumes in the fall, and Singh’s Nanaimo appearance comes as Poilievre has surged in the polls -- hammering the Trudeau government about inflation and housing prices.

“Food inflation is still running very high -- and so he wants to capitalize on that vis a vis the government -- as well as against the Conservatives,” said Telford.

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