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Can Ford kill plastic bag fee?

Mayor Rob Ford now says he wants to scrap the five-cent plastic bag fee. His opinion may not matter.

Mayor Rob Ford now says he wants to scrap the five-cent plastic bag fee. His opinion may not matter.

Even if Ford succeeds in persuading city council to eliminate the bylaw that makes the fee mandatory, some retailers will simply continue charging shoppers for bags, says Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, a Ford ally. Loblaws would be one of them, says a spokesperson for World Wildlife Fund Canada, which receives money from the proceeds of Loblaws’ fee.

The company and its competitors did not respond to requests for comment Thursday. A senior official at the industry group that represents Canada’s major grocery store chains said Ford’s Wednesday pronouncement on the bag fee had caught the companies unprepared: They believed they had been assured by the mayor’s office in early December that Ford would not try to eliminate the fee.

“From our perspective, this is surprising. It seems there’s been a change of heart,” said Allen Langdon, vice-president for environmental issues at the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors.

Ford told the Toronto Sun in early December that he had not decided whether to attempt to scrap the fee or to alter it so that the city, rather than retailers, kept the money. He told the National Post Wednesday that holiday-season conversations with shoppers who “can’t stand” the fee have convinced him it should be abolished.

The Toronto Environmental Alliance and World Wildlife Fund Canada said the fee should be preserved. Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker, an environmentalist, said its elimination would be “idiotic.” And while Langdon said his group would not issue an opinion until more details emerged, he said its members considered the fee a success.

Several major retailers, Loblaws included, extended the fee across Canada even though they weren’t required to do so.

Ford’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

 
 
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