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Trudeau’s Latest Policies Are Alienating His Donor Base 


There are reports of betrayal in the grocery aisles as a major Liberal party supporter turns its back on Trudeau. For years, the owners of Rabba Fine Foods, a Toronto-based grocery store chain, have been loyal Trudeau Liberal supporters, donating thousands to the party since 2015. But now, they’re crying foul over the Prime Minister’s grocery price-fixing scheme, a so-called “price freeze” that has small chains like Rabba covering the extra costs. It seems that Rabba feels the burn as the little guy under Trudeau’s costly policies.

After years of Liberal loyalty and donations, Trudeau’s policy is a slap in the face. As the Prime Minister’s friends reap the rewards, the little guys pay the price so much so that even Liberals are turning on their beloved Trudeau.

A trusted ally turns traitor. For years, the owners of Rabba Fine Foods have been loyal supporters of Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party, donating generously to keep the party in power. But those days seem to be over.

The Toronto-based grocery chain and its owners, Rick and Jack Rabba, have given thousands in donations to the Trudeau Liberals since 2015, with records showing about a third of those contributions came as recently as December 2022.

Both owners even attended a Liberal fundraising event with Justin Trudeau in Mississauga in 2017.

The Trudeau Liberals have eagerly returned the favor for Rabba’s generous donations over the years. They provided free advertising for the grocery store by using a Rabba location as the backdrop for a major announcement last summer.

In July, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the Liberal government’s grocery rebate program at a Rabba store. 

With Rabba logos and products prominently displayed behind her, it served as a high-profile promotional event for the grocer at no cost.

In an attempt to ease the burden of escalating grocery costs, Freeland revealed that 11 million Canadians with lower or middle incomes would receive a single rebate payment from the government. She framed this as financial relief for those struggling with inflated food prices resulting from rising inflation.

Many were quick to point out that the price tags of the products behind Freeland were no longer there.

The political advocacy group Canada Proud even dispatched a representative to the Rabba grocery store to examine the aisles where Freeland gave her press conference. They discovered that all price tags had been deliberately removed from the section visible behind the podium where the minister was speaking.

Not to mention that the grocery rebate program has proven utterly useless for most Canadians struggling with skyrocketing food bills. Unless you’re practically homeless, the rebate will not do much for you, as it fails to provide relief for middle-class families, with already struggling taxpayers bearing the burden to fund those very rebates.

Regardless of the announcement itself, the interesting photo-op served as a free promo for the grocery chain, demonstrating the close relationship between Rabba Fine Foods and the Liberal Party.

Yet despite this historic financial support and close ties with the Liberal party, Rabba is now joining the chorus of voices criticizing Trudeau government policies.

As it turns out, they’re upset about Trudeau’s grocery price freeze.

Earlier this fall, Trudeau decided to strong-arm Canada’s top five grocery retailers in an attempt to curb rising food costs. He threatened major chains like Loblaw and Empire Co. with new taxes if they failed to stabilize prices. Spooked by the prospect of punitive taxes, the grocery giants quickly fell in line and announced discounts and price freezes on thousands of products.

However, the government’s heavy-handed campaign may hurt small, independent grocery stores.. Unlike massive chains, family-run shops and neighborhood markets lack the sheer purchasing power to pressure their suppliers into granting similar price cuts or freezes.

Trudeau’s simplistic policy fails to account for this imbalance. In reality, independent markets will have to pay more to stock their shelves, making it impossible to match the big chains’ pricing pledges. The government’s pressure campaign may end up backfiring and driving up costs for community stores.

So in an ironic twist, the Liberals’ political show of force to cut grocery bills may ultimately hurt the little guys. Smaller markets will be stuck between rising supplier costs and falling chain store prices, squeezed by a policy not designed with their limitations in mind.

And Rabba Fine Foods is no different, as its current president, Rick Rabba, has expressed his worry to the Toronto Star, saying that the major chains using their leverage to refuse price hikes or demand discounts from suppliers will lead those suppliers to raise prices on smaller independent grocers to make up the difference.

“We can’t have the same power relationship with the suppliers,” said Rick Rabba, whose company has 36 stores in Greater Toronto. “At the end of the day, we are forced to take price increases.”

According to Rabba, the only viable option for his smaller chain is to take a cut in profit margins in order to match the discounted prices from the major grocery chains.

“My only other option is to lose a customer,” he said. “You can’t be priced outside of the market.” Rabba asserted that staying competitive on pricing was crucial for a smaller market to survive.

And Rabba Fine Foods are not the only local chain who are feeling Trudeau’s pinch. Brad Fletcher, president of the independent grocery store in Markham, Village Grocer, said decreasing profit margins is a risky move that could financially ruin small markets. 

“We work on very thin margins as it is,” he said. “We literally can’t afford to be having price increases on us without taking price increases to the customers.”

Fletcher asserted that small grocers cannot bear increased costs without passing those prices hikes onto shoppers.

And most grocery chains, especially the local independent ones, cannot afford to hike up prices even further, knowing how bad the situation already is for most Canadians. Over the past few years, Canadians have seen food prices soar. According to the Royal Bank of Canada, food prices have soared by 18% since 2021.

Meanwhile, major chains have pledged price freezes under government pressure. And they’re actually able to do that because their sheer market power allows them to offset losses by squeezing suppliers for steeper rebates and discounts. 

Lacking this leverage, independent grocers will be unable to demand similar concessions from vendors. 

Suppliers, feeling margin pressure from big retailers, will likely look to pass on these losses by hiking prices for smaller regional grocers. Without the purchasing scale of grocery giants, independent stores have little bargaining power.

François-Philippe Champagne, the federal Industry Minister overseeing the government’s response to rising food costs, held meetings with top grocery and food manufacturing executives this fall. He pressured them to develop strategies to keep prices in check.

According to spokesperson Audrey Champoux, Champagne clearly communicated in these talks that any pricing actions taken by large retailers and producers should not detrimentally impact independent grocers. The minister cautioned that actions to stabilize prices must not come at the expense of small and medium-sized market players.

However, that doesn’t seem to be the case at all for Trudeau’s government.

Essentially, Trudeau’s political interference may perversely end up forcing smaller grocers to pay more to stock their shelves, defeating the entire point of the so-called price freeze altogether.

Trudeau’s honeymoon phase seems to be over, as even longtime Liberal loyalists are losing faith in the Prime Minister. 

His latest policy missteps on groceries are only fueling discontent that now extends far beyond expected criticism coming from Conservatives, as well as other opposing parties. 

Disillusioned Liberal supporters and swing voters are joining the band of frustrated Canadians who feel let down by Trudeau’s leadership.

Estranged allies like the Rabba grocery chain symbolize this growing dissatisfaction within the Liberal ranks. 

Trudeau can no longer divide the public between his cheerleaders and haters, as dissatisfaction is becoming widespread and crossing political lines.

While the Prime Minister and his party once inspired enthusiastic support, they now face critics spanning the entire political spectrum.

On the bright side, Trudeau has finally succeeded in uniting Canadians, but not in the way he hoped – they are united in frustration with his government’s ineffective policies and economic pain felt across the country. 

The grocery debacle has crystallized growing anger, uniting Canadians against Trudeau himself.

Let Rabba’s public betrayal serve as a warning sign. The Liberals are losing their grip on not just donors, but the nation. Canadians are hungry for substance, not empty gestures and broken promises. 

The time has come for Trudeau to deliver, or step aside. The grocery aisles tell the tale. The public’s patience is running thin.

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