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‘Will anybody go nuclear?’ Tensions mount as Walmart starts charging suppliers to pay for its retail revamp

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FCPC, along with seven other trade associations representing farmers, bakers, dairy processors and independent retailers, have been pressuring the federal government to rein in the big grocers and their fees with a code of conduct.

A code, similar to models used in the United Kingdom and Australia, would essentially guide relationships between grocers and suppliers, with rules on how fees and fines can be applied.

But earlier this month, the federal government made clear it will not move forward on a code of conduct, despite issuing several statements in support of food producers. Industry Minister Navdeep Bains’ office told the Financial Post the federal government doesn’t have jurisdiction over the retail industry.

“It is disappointing to see grocers impose these costly fees,” John Power, the minister’s spokesperson, said in an email. “However, we recognize that terms of sale are generally the exclusive domain between suppliers and buyers, and that these fall under areas of provincial jurisdiction.”

Graydon, who has led the campaign for government intervention, on Monday said he has given up hope of a federally regulated code.

“The reality is, the federal government does not have the constitutional ability to do it,” he said. “That doesn’t exonerate the federal government from taking some role in this process.”

Instead of leaving it to the provinces and territories to create a complicated web of 13 different codes of conduct, Graydon suggested that one option for the Liberal government could be to produce a template so that there’s consistency across the board.

“This can’t continue like this,” he said. “There is a cause and effect here. And we’re getting close to the breaking point.”

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