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Vicky Mochama: Colluding on bread prices should carry harsher consquences

The part of me that is an advocate for abolishing the prison system becomes much quieter when I hear that I've been paying more for bread than is fair.

Bread isn't just an essential staple. It is a form of self-care. It is therapy. It is medicine, really, writes Vicky Mochama.

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Bread isn't just an essential staple. It is a form of self-care. It is therapy. It is medicine, really, writes Vicky Mochama.

Loblaw Companies Ltd. announced that as a result of an investigation into price-fixing of bread, it would be issuing a $25 dollar gift card to its stores for next year. George Weston Ltd, which owns both the Loblaw grocery store chain and the bread-maker Weston Bakeries, said that other grocery store chains and another major bread-maker had been involved in plot which ran from 2001 to 2015.

Loblaw is simply the first rat to snitch. According to the Globe and Mail, "Montreal-based Metro, Sobeys and Canada Bread have all said they are co-operating with the investigation."

The Competition Board which investigates things like price-fixing has a leniency clause which allows companies who own up to their misdeeds to avoid major fines or jailtime for those responsible.

While I will absolutely take advantage of the gift card — and let's be honest, $25 is about four apples at Loblaw's — I think that if you collude to increase the price of bread, the fine should be automatic and far more consequential. 

The part of me that is an advocate for abolishing the carceral system becomes very small and much quieter when I hear that I've been paying more for bread than is fair.

Bread isn't just an essential staple.

It is a form of self-care. It is therapy. It is medicine, really. Bread and the consumption thereof has gotten me through breakups, long work days and uncomfortable dinners. Bread has been my best friend and my constant companion.

A noted expert has said that an attack on the bread supply is an act of war. That expert is me and she is right. 

A gift card program costing possibly as much as $150 million is actually pocket change for a company worth billions. Some reparations must be made by all the companies involved.

Each and every Canadian should be able to special order a delivery loaf of bread to wherever they are, like Uber for companies that colluded to charge more for bread. The executives responsible should have to buy the groceries of the person in line in front of them every time. The whole Weston family — depending on who knew what and when — should have to give up all bread. Into perpetuity.

Or maybe we can be more forgiving. Whom among us would not conspire with our frenemies to increase the cost of a family staple food to our mutual benefit? Let he who is without sin, etc.

Many others are planning to take the charitable route, and are planning to donate their gift cards to food banks.

As you break bread with your family over the holidays, don't forget: Corporations only give you things when they've messed up.

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