It's not just the Malaysians who get to scowl. Being a Canadian, I grew up in my early adult years being aware of "the liquor inspectors" - the shorthand for those empowered to enforce the provincial alcohol regulations in the bars, beverage rooms and taverns of the province. Frankly, in the Halifax of my youth, one was surprised when one ever showed up as there seemed to be two or three to maintain the law throughout the province. We were surprised mainly because the province included Cape Breton and one assumed if there were bad things afoot in the bars, beverage rooms and taverns of the province they were more likely to be happening in Cape Breton.
Apparently were wrong or at least locked in our own times as as John Ivison of Canada's National Post has now updated the tale of the liquor inspectors twenty-five years later in this recent article about his experiences as a witness before the two members of the board of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission arising from one night out in Ottawa:
In the D'Arcy's case, the prosecuting lawyer cited the Post article, in which I had described members of our band as being "moist and garrulous" , if not quite "tired and emotional", as an admission that we were all intoxicated -- which is an offence under the Liquor License Act. I conceded that we were in high spirits but rejected the notion of intoxication, which according to the Ministry of Government Services' own server training program means the customer is speaking too loudly, slurring, sweating and losing balance.
"You had to repeat yourself several times, did you not?" the lawyer asked.
"Yes but that happens all the time. You might have noticed I have the hint of an accent," I replied, in my strongest west Scotland brogue.
By this time things had proceeded from farce, as the lawyer flailed away in her attempts to make me admit we were all full of loudmouth soup, or something more sinister.
Loudmouth soup. I like that. I had heard that it was called electric soup in certain circles of West Scots but not loudmouth soup. Which goes to a point: when you are not in a car and not in a fight and not stealing the rent money from the family's jam jar...what is wrong with speaking too loudly? Sweating and losing balance? Sure, I am all for regulating sweating and losing balance but as far as I know those who trip up on those two public shames are, you know, playing tennis. Who knew that was a social wrong? But there is it - s. 29 of the LLA. It is clearly as bad to serve a person who is intoxicated as it is to serve someone who is under 19. And the law says "person" and not licensee. In this case, it was about a bar - Ottawa D'Arcy McGee's - yet that is not the end of the scope of the reach of this legal provision. Watch your step.
But, to be fair, the tone of Ivison's article is fairly silly in the idea that Ontario is some hot bed of over regulation. The control of public drunkenness has been in every jurisdictions' legal code in one way or another since Adam was in diapers. Clever readers of clever books know from a chapter I wrote that there are far sillier forms of alcohol regulation in our fair land. And seeing as D'Arcy McGee's, a place I have visited on more than one occasion in the distant past, sits within a few yards of Parliament Hill and mere steps from the building housing the PMO - or Prime Minister's Office - maybe there is another reason for any particular attention it might receive. There could be quite a number of parties interested in who is shouting what to who off-balancedly as they sweat and slur. Your could likely run tours through the place just for the fun of what is being said.