Tuesday, April 3, 2007

I smell an election year

Ontario Liberal MPP Kim Craitor has introduced a private members bill that if passed, would allow corner stores to sell wine and beer. As is to be expected, any suggestion to loosen the statist control of alcohol sales in Onterrorio and break up the LCBO's monopoly on beer and wine sales is met with the usual round of criticism:

Opposition critics say it's a cheap ploy to placate Ontario winemakers and could put more booze in the hands of minors.

[..] David Caplan, minister responsible for the LCBO, said he's not that interested in having the conversation.

"Ideas like this have been floated previously. I don't think this is a road we want to go down," he said, without elaborating.
Craitor defends his bill, saying it would be good for local wineries and brewers, and though there is no indication in the article that corner stores would be restricted to selling Ontario products, we are assured that:
Convenience stores would have strict controls in place and be staffed by trained employees, Craitor said.
Considering 2007 is an election year in Ontario, it is wise to question the motives of Mr. Craitor and also John Tory, who most certainly recognizes cautious public support of a bill that is not likely to pass might gain his party a few cheap votes.
In 1985, the previous Liberal government, under then-premier David Peterson, promised to make alcohol available in convenience stores, but backed away from the idea once elected.

[..] Conservative Leader John Tory said selling Ontario wine and beer in corner stores is worth considering.

[..] "I'm not instinctively opposed to it," he said. "I think we should look at all these different concepts and decide what is best to help the Ontario products . . . and, secondly, what is best in terms of making sure we don't get carried away with having alcohol too available and in too many places."
Any decision to allow competition that would cut into the profits currently enjoyed by the price-fixing LCBO will continue to be met with cautionary warnings by those seeking to gain the most from corrupt laws.


Little Tobacco said...

I grew up in a province that allows beer sales in corner stores. When we were kids and wanted beer, we would always go to the government liquor store because the corner stores were too strict on IDs. Perhaps it has changed, but I suspect that some unionized liquor store employee, who cannot be disciplined let alone fired, has nothing to lose for not asking for ID. A store owner who can lose his license to sell beer has something on the line.

Ayn Steyn said...

If kids want booze, they'll get it from their parents liquor cabinets.

Honey Pot said...

It would great for the corner store small business owners, the environment, and the hoods.

No one would be driving drunk to the beer store, they would just walk to the local corner store.

It would be a place you would run into your neighbours and perhaps have some conversation.

It would encourage people to start small businesses and that is a good thing.

mark said...

We already allow some convenience stores to sell alcohol and beer in Ontario. Granted they are in rural areas including cottage country, so why not allow all grocery and convenience stores the same rights and opportunities?

Anonymous said...

your being facetious right honey pot?

the teens will indeed walk to the varietry store, get hooched up, THEN go for a drive....

using the quebec experience as the thin edge of the wedge ignores the fact it is a very different culture. they know more or less how to handle their alcohol.

why dont drinkers just brew all their own stuff and p*ss on the beer store and the variety store and all those goddam bottle returns?

Reg said...

Silly anon, the agave plant doesn't grow in Ontario, how could I possibly make my own tequila hooch then?

Jake said...

Ontario's ancient prohibition-era liquor laws are some of the most strictest in North America. Only bible-belt jurisdictions like Utah and Missouri are stricter.

The liquor act and the LCBO have seen few modifications since its inception in the 1920's. The few key "changes" were lowering the age of consumption and changing bar hours. Other than that, it's essentially the same. It's so obsolete, that until 30 years ago, you needed to fill out a piece of paper to get alcohol. How radical.

The LCBO is a government run monopoly that is the largest distributor of alcohol in the world. It's profits go directly to the government and they keep alcohol prices artificially high.

Basically, the LCBO should be sold off entirely and the stores leased to private franchisees. The owners would pay royalties to the government. This would generate more money in the long term for the government as it would allow private firms to establish more stores and compete against each other. This would significantly lower the price of alcohol and make it more competitive.

Mind you it isn't totally laissez-faire economics, but more competitive than the LCBO's current structure. The $10 billion that the government collects from sole ownership of the LCBO has to be replaced via franchise licenses.

Anonymous said...

I think the number for the last fiscal year is $1.2 billion, not the $10 billion claimed by Jake. But $10 billion certainly sounds better, and I wish it were true.