The votes are in and the results have been tallied. And Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, in the middle of an election campaign, has won the prize for the dumbest statement about beer and law for at least this year:
While Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory believes Ontarians should be able to buy their alcohol at convenience stores, the Liberals said the province already has a safe and effective system in place. Tory said he wants to look into granting liquor licenses to convenience stores to boost homegrown alcohol, pointing out we would not be the first province to do so.I think the greatest thing about that statement is its ability to convey no meaning while using up 24 words. I do not need a standard for where I can buy beer set by a stranger who thinks he is in my family. It would be nice if the debate had some relation to reality. First, being in eastern Ontario, I can easily reach beer in corner stores in Quebec or New York state. Second, in Ontario, if there is not a government store within a certain reach you can buy your beer and wine and spirits in what is called "an agency store" which is a corner store. I can think of two within 30 minutes drive of my house in the middle of a city. Third, going by the example of Quebec, there may be a way to structure the law so that the focus is on locally owned and/or locally produced fine beers and wines. Why not focus on local product, give a boost where one could be given?
But, McGuinty said the province should not be following the lead of other provinces when it comes to selling alcohol. "We're our own family, our own home. We do things that we think is in keeping with our standards, our values and our priorities," he said.
There are underlying reasons, of course. The government-owned LCBO is simply massive and massively profitable monolith and The Beer Store is a mad oligopolistic dream. The interests behind the status quo is huge...but, happily, the sort of thing you can "take great comfort in"...in my home where someone else makes the rules...in my family where strangers from cities far away make decisions. Expect nothing to change. Expect more and more beer buying across the border.