Ontario’s convenience stores launched another bid Wednesday for permission to sell beer and wine, and found at least one party leader willing to consider the idea.
The Ontario Convenience Stores Association released a petition with 112,500 signatures gathered across the province supporting the idea of broader retail availability of beer and wine.
“Ontarians have spoken very clearly and they are not happy with the antiquated alcohol retailing system we have in Ontario,” said association CEO Dave Bryans. “They’re responsible adults who want the simple convenience of leaving the car at home and walking to their neighbourhood store to get wine for dinner or drinks for the barbecue.”A spokesperson for Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan immediately nipped the rebellion in the bud:
“The current system balances access for both customers and suppliers with social responsibility,” said Aly Vitunski, press secretary for Finance Minister Dwight Duncan. “We take the concerns of convenience store owners seriously, but we believe the current system of selling liquor is an effective way to guard the public interest.”Well there you have it. The Mandarins at Queen's Park have once again decided that the citizens of Ontario cannot be trusted to buy beer and wine without their permission, because such a change would lead to drunken infants lying about in the gutters of Toronto sucking Coors Lite from their bottles. They're obviously concerned about a complete breakdown of society, much like has already happened in Alberta, Quebec, most of the United States and just about every other jurisdiction in the civilized world.
I find it astonishing that the government uses the excuse of "social responsibility" to maintain its monopoly on wine and liquor sales and to support the cartel of breweries that runs the Beer Stores. Surely this argument applies to cigarettes, another product prohibited to minors but sold in every convenience store in the province. Furthermore, convenience stores in remote rural communities in Ontario are already licensed to sell beer and wine; an option denied to residents of larger communities.
I wish Dwight Duncan had the stones to tell the people of Ontario the real reason for the policy: McGuinty doesn't dare take on the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, to which the LCBO's 6000 employees belong. Plus there's this:
The LCBO turned over a record $1.63 billion dividend to the Ontario government for 2010-11 after sales of $4.7 billion.Ah, there's the rub. Our rights have a price.
Tim Hudak immediately announced that the PCs would support ending the LCBO/Beer Store monopoly. Remember that at the next election, folks.