...or is it a beer free market? Not so sure. But one Ontario man - the interestingly named Mr. Forward - is. He has started a petition to free Ontarians from the two-headed monster that is the government owned LCBO and the macro-brewery owned Beer Store:
His petition says: "We the people of Ontario demand that The Ontario Government immediately remove the monopoly currently enjoyed by The Beer Store. The people of Ontario demand that the Ontario government allow beer to be sold and distributed through existing and regular grocery and food store channels." Forward said he started the petition after reading a three-day series in the Toronto Star on the three largest brewers – Labatt, Molson and Sleeman – owning the store that sells $2.5 billion worth of beer a year in Ontario. The brewers, in turn, are owned by some of the largest foreign multinational brewers in the world: Belgium's InBevSA, the American Molson Coors Brewing and Sapporo of Japan.
It is quite the thing that government regulation is actually protecting multinationals - though, to be fair, scant years ago all three (not as illustrated) were Canadian firms. I suppose the most annoying thing, though, for the local beer lover is that craft brewers have to pay an extra premium in Ontario for shelf space owned and administered by either their massive competitors or the agents of the state - the biggest buyer of booze in the world as well as the provincial regulator. So they have to pay their government or their competition a fee for the right to ply their trade. Which also means we the consumer pay more - and I when I say "we", you know, I really mean "you" but I would mean "we" if I didn't actually organize my life to buy direct at a fine craft brewery...or at a store in the nearby states...or rely on samples and, err, my own home brewing. All the same "SHAME!!"
I signed up. You can too.