City Centre Mirror
The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition is accusing the City of Toronto of price fixing through its bylaw requiring stores to charge five cents per plastic shopping bag.
The group has filed a complaint with the Competition Bureau of Canada, alleging that the bylaw put in place by former Mayor David Miller's government amounts to fixing the price of a commodity.
"The City of Toronto is a marketer of recycled plastic," said TTC president Matthew McGuire.
"It has changed the supply and demand to the city's financial benefit and that's why we forwarded the bylaw to the competition bureau."
When it was pointed out that the fixed price seems to have resulted in a lower demand for recycled plastic, in that it has reduced the amount of plastic bags given out at major retailers, McGuire responded that the matter was before the competition bureau, and that the organization's primary reason for making the complaint was to protect Toronto taxpayers.
"The reason we did this is we're concerned about the way the city is increasing costs to Torontonians," he said. "This is costing taxpayers $10 to $20 million a year."
City councillor Gord Perks, who supported the bag fee as a way to reduce the number of bags going into the city's landfill sites, said city lawyers had done their diligence when the law was in place and the TTC complaint didn't concern him.
"If we were telling Dupont and Dow how much to charge grocery stores for polyethelene bags, we would be price fixing," he said.
"If the bags previously had had a price attached to them which saw different companies compete, we would be price fixing. But we're not doing that. We're telling people who are giving away something free, they're not competing, that they have to charge to discourage their use. We gave the issue a thorough airing legally."
The matter will be coming before Toronto Council at its June meeting, where councillors will consider a recommendation from Mayor Rob Ford's executive committee to scrap the bylaw entirely.