About those taxpayer-funded refrigerators

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Dear Galen,

It’s me, Lindy. I know we haven’t spoken in a while.

And I note that you haven’t had a chance to write back to my last letter — the one I wrote in December 2017, in an article entitled “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Trust me, I get it. I can hardly keep up with my own correspondence, either. Especially email. Ugh! Bane of my existence.

And I know you’ve been super busy keeping an eye on your bread prices and other potential price-fixing schemes. And running the multibillion-dollar George Weston food empire.

Plus, I’m sure you’ve been dealing with your $400 million tax debt to the Canada Revenue Agency due to your offshore banking activities and dealing with staff demanding a living wage. Oh, and then buying up other companies like Shopper’s Drug Mart and the Canadian Real Estate Investment Trust. And selling off your gas pumps. Etc. It’s a lot to deal with!

But I can’t help myself. I’m back. This time, I’d like to talk with you about your new $12 million, taxpayer-funded refrigerators.

I don’t understand. I really don’t. I know that we cannot run a country without well-run, profitable companies. And I know that you can’t control what Prime Minister Trudeau and his cabinet get up to … but somebody needs to have a little chat here and not just about optics — but about ethics.

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This $12 million of taxpayer money for your new fridges just doesn’t look good on either you or the prime minister. Really bad optics. Turns out we’re not really over bread-gate just yet, either. Hearing about another scam just reminds us that your $25 gift cards were a nice touch, but we haven’t forgotten that it was your get-out-of-jail-free gesture.

Here’s the thing: you have to replace your refrigerators routinely anyway and that’s just part of the cost of running an incredibly profitable multibillion-dollar food empire. New refrigerators make sense. More efficient refrigerators save you money in the long run. But wait. How on earth did the taxpayer end up footing the bill for your new refrigerators?

The truth is, that I, too, had to buy a new refrigerator recently. Here’s how that went down: I went to Home Depot and bought a fridge myself. On my Visa card. With my own money. Plus, I had to pay for home delivery. And then I had to pay extra for a warranty. Because, you know, these newfangled, computer-controlled refrigerators don’t last like those old Kelvinators did. I paid tax on everything: fridge, warranty, delivery. No grant money. No funds from the PMO or government. What a scam!

Galen, dear Galen, please, I implore you give the $12,000,000 of taxpayer money back. I know it wasn’t your fault in the first place — I’m sure the prime minister thought it was a nice thing to do with our money. But here’s the thing. It’s just NOT right. So how about you step up to the plate and make it right. Give the money back. Join the #LoblawsGiveItBack movement! Insist the money be put to good use elsewhere where it is so badly needed. Consider becoming ethical as a profit-making strategy.

Do good in the world. Make us proud … perhaps it’s not too late?

Perhaps we can talk about multi-buy pricing (a.k.a. despicable profiteering) and Loblaw’s excessive use of plastics, including plastic bags and packaging, in our next letter?

I’m looking forward to it!



Lindy Mechefske is the award-winning author of Out of Old Ontario Kitchens and Sir John’s Table. Contact her at lindymechefske.com.