Bringing the c-store experience to our nation’s lawmakers

CICC invites MPs to vote for their favourite treats as part of an advocacy campaign reminding leaders of the valuable role c-stores play in their communities and the economy.
Anne Kothawala
President & CEO, CICC
Anna Kothawala
A page from the CICC's government promition
Parliament Hill's Top Treats invites all 338 MPs to engage with c-store products.

As Canadians, many of us have fond memories of going to the local corner store during our childhood and buying our favourite treats or drink after school.

Today, the product offerings may have changed, but from St. John’s to Victoria, that ritual is still the same. While Canada’s convenience industry was built on milk and bread, in today’s convenience store, there are hundreds of products to choose from and the offerings are not restricted solely to snacks and traditional beverages. Smart phone chargers, energy drinks, fizzy-flavoured waters, healthy snacks, and even ready-to-go food offerings are staples today.

It's easy for our nation’s lawmakers to become so focused on the daily issues facing our country that they can easily forget the simple joy of entering their local convenience store.

As an industry association, one of our most critical roles and tasks is to represent our various interests before the governments who have such an influence on our business.

Effective advocacy is telling a story.  Seeing is believing. Sampling is engaging.

With more than 25,000 stores, employing 212,000 Canadians, and accounting for $55 billion in sales, our industry plays a vital role in the Canadian economy.

And that’s the convenience industry’s story CICC promotes to decision makers at the federal level. This year, we are enhancing these efforts with a fun program that will engage our federal MPs even further.

We’ve developed Parliament Hill’s Top Treats that will see all 338 MPs experience and sample select products sold in our channel and then vote for their favourites online, in four different categories – chocolate/confectionary, snacks, general merchandise and made-in-Canada. From beef jerky to chocolate treats, newly released pretzels to cellphone holders, the products will undoubtedly give our federal MPs a taste of  the variety of products for sale in our channel, while giving the category winners bragging rights.

Efforts like these are crucial to effective advocacy. While we communicate with numerous officials and politicians on a regular basis, this initiative provides a tangible opportunity for our federal leaders to better understand our channel. Convenience stores are in communities across Canada, in almost every federal constituency in the country. MPs need to truly understand the role we play in supporting the communities in their backyards.

The bottom line is that our industry is highly regulated due to the nature of the products we sell. Like customer demands, regulations are constantly changing. Whether it’s proposed new taxes on vaping products announced recently in the federal budget, proposed regulations on energy drinks or the ongoing battle to reduce credit card swipe fees, CICC is there to advocate on behalf of vendors, retailers and distributors.

It's no surprise that our story is also in a constant state of flux as customer demands shift and our industry is impacted by world-changing events like COVID-19.

As we enter recovery mode, the onus will be on us to adapt and innovate to ensure that we remain sustainable and continue to serve communities from coast to coast. We are on your corner and in Canada’s corner. We are where community and convenience meet. We are part of the very social fabric of Canada. That’s a story worth telling.

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