In The News for March 7: Why are Canada's grocers making so much money?

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Tuesday, March 7, 2023 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

As members of Parliament gear up to grill the CEOs of Canada's largest grocery store chains, experts say elected officials should push for more transparency on why grocers are making so much money.

The CEOs and presidents of Loblaw Cos. Ltd., Metro Inc. and Empire Co. Ltd. — which operates chains including Sobeys, Safeway and FreshCo — are set to testify before the House of Commons agriculture committee on Wednesday as part of its study on food inflation.

Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, said the upcoming meeting "is very much about political theatre."

With the grocers making record profits amid high inflation, Charlebois said MPs have an opportunity to push for more financial information that could shed light on what's been driving profits.

A report co-authored by Charlebois in the fall found the three grocers all posted higher profits in the first half of 2022 compared with their average performances over the last five years.


Also this ...

Afghanistan's pre-Taliban envoy has kept his country's Ottawa embassy running in the hopes that democracy will eventually return to his homeland, as he asks Canadians to fight "gender apartheid."

"There is a need for greater advocacy efforts in support of women and girls in Afghanistan," said Hassan Soroosh, the ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

The Taliban has tried to rename the country, calling it the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan since it seized Kabul in August 2021, but it remains a globally unrecognized government.

That leaves Soroosh providing consular services and advocating for Afghans everywhere. As of late, that's included pushing the Trudeau government to lift legal prohibitions on delivering Canadian humanitarian aid in the country.

"Canada has always been one of the first countries to respond to humanitarian emergencies in Afghanistan."

Humanitarian groups say Global Affairs Canada has told them that purchasing goods or hiring locals in Afghanistan would involve paying taxes to the Taliban, which might be considered under the Criminal Code as contributing to a terror group.

That advice was given despite a cascade of humanitarian crises, from a collapsing health-care system to soaring rates of child malnutrition.

The government has said it plans to amend the Criminal Code as early as this spring.


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' State of the State speech is likely to be more about making a case to lead the country rather than an assessment of Florida’s future.

Tuesday's address comes as DeSantis builds momentum for a presidential run and marks the start of Florida's annual 60-day legislative session.

He's travelled the country talking about how America should be more like Florida. This session, that means issues like telling teachers what pronouns they can use for students, making guns more available to Floridians and keeping immigrants who are in the country illegally out of the state.

So far that approach has worked for DeSantis, who won re-election last year by nearly 20 points.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

The influential sister of North Korea’s leader warned Tuesday that her country is ready to take “quick, overwhelming action” against the United States and South Korea, a day after the U.S. flew a nuclear-capable B-52 bomber in a demonstration of strength against the North.

Monday’s U.S.-South Korean training involving the B-52 bomber over the Korean Peninsula was the latest in a series of drills between the allies in recent months. Their militaries are also preparing to revive their largest field exercises later this month.

Kim Yo Jong didn’t elaborate on any planned actions in her statement, but North Korea has often test-launched missiles in response to U.S.-South Korean military drills because it views them as an invasion rehearsal.

After Monday’s training, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the B-52’s deployment demonstrated the allies’ decisive capacities to deter North Korean aggressions. The U.S. deployed a long-range U.S. B-1B bomber or multiple B-1Bs to the peninsula a few times earlier this year.

Last month, the U.S. and South Korea also held a simulation in Washington aimed at sharpening their response to North Korean nuclear threats.


On this day in 1936 ...

Nazi Germany violated the "Treaty of Versailles" by occupying the Rhineland. Under the treaty, the region was to remain under the control of the Allied nations for five to 15 years after the end of the First World War, with Germany forbidden to militarize the area. But after the last Allied troops, the French, withdrew in 1930, Adolf Hitler moved quickly to build up troops there.


In entertainment ...

Jay Ellis says if you saw the Mel Brooks film “History of the World, Part 1,” you know exactly what you're getting into.

“History of the World, Part 2” is now streaming and among the celebrities involved are Jack Black, Wanda Sykes, Dove Cameron, Seth Rogen, Danny DeVito and Johnny Knoxville.

Josh Gad says it was “so thrilling” to "do these stupid jokes" in the world Brooks created.

The new series also features the 96-year-old Brooks as the narrator. It is available in Canada on Disney+.


Did you see this?

Canadian taxpayers will foot the bill for repairs to the engines on at least two of the Royal Canadian Navy's brand-new Arctic patrol vessels because the one-year warranty on those vessels has expired.

Defence Department deputy minister Bill Matthews delivered the news during an appearance before the House of Commons public accounts committee on Monday, shortly before the department reported the repairs will end up taking longer than expected.

The revelation represents yet another blow to Canada's troubled military procurement system, which has struggled to deliver functional new equipment to the Canadian Armed Forces without delays or cost overruns.

The Canadian Press reported last week that Ottawa is also on the hook for repairs to the Royal Canadian Air Force's Cyclone helicopters, one of which crashed off the coast of Greece in 2020, killing six Armed Forces members.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2023

The Canadian Press