Booze In The Ontario Election

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cratez
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Booze In The Ontario Election

Postby cratez » Tue Sep 27, 2011 3:35 pm

Despite the assumption on this forum and elsewhere that alcohol is an insignificant fringe issue within our provincial political landscape, it has managed to garner attention from the CBC and all of the major political parties in the Ontario Provincial Election campaign.

A question regarding private liquor sales in convenience stores (most likely sparked by the recent Angus Reid study on the matter) has been incorporated into the CBC's Vote Compass, a tool that enables voters to determine which parties best reflect their views on the key issues in this election. So far more than 53,000 people have completed the survey. The Compass asks voters whether they agree or disagree that "convenience stores in Ontario should be allowed to sell alcohol."

Although it is commonly believed that none of the major parties would either privatize the LCBO or allow for liquor sales in convenience stores, the Progressive Conservatives have suggested that they are open to the latter idea while the Green Party is ardently in favour of corner store liquor sales AND reducing "market barriers for local wineries and craft brewers." Here's where the parties stand, based on statements provided to the CBC and Toronto Star and positions outlined in recent party policy documents:

Green Party (Strongly Agree): Our current system favours large corporations, to the detriment of small craft breweries and wineries. Convenience stores already handle the burden of controlled sales like cigarettes. We would also reduce regulated market barriers for local wineries and craft brewers. Source: Green Party of Ontario Food & Farming Strategy (May 2011)

Progressive Conservatives (Somewhat Agree): We will...increase market access for Ontario’s VQA wines...Asked specifically if that meant opening up sales to convenience stores, Witmer didn’t rule it out. “I would simply say (that) our plan is to increase access and how that would be accomplished obviously would become more apparent." Source: Changebook Platform and statement made to Toronto Star in "Let us buy beer in convenience stores, Ontarians say in survey" (May 2011)

Liberals (Neutral): Ontarians enjoy a wide variety of retailing options with regard to beverage alcohol. Ontarians have access to over 1,700 retail outlets, including the LCBO, The Beer Store, agency stores, wine retail stores, and on-site brewery and winery stores. The current retail system safeguards the socially responsible sale of liquor, a public trust the government takes very seriously. Studies show that government control over the sale of beverage alcohol helps reduce underage drinking and associated harms. Furthermore, under the federally-negotiated Canada-EU Agreement on Trade in Wines and Spirits Drinks, as well as NAFTA, we must abide by specific restrictions and are limited to a set number of retailers for wine and beer. Source: Statement from the Ontario Liberal Party to Vote Compass (August 2011)

New Democrats (Somewhat Disagree): The LCBO currently does an excellent job of implementing their dual role of providing consumer choice when it comes to alcoholic products while at the same time restricting access to those legally allowed to purchase alcoholic beverages and providing public education to the general public about the dangers of excess consumption. Source: Statement from the Ontario NDP to Vote Compass (August 2011)

According to their Affordable Change platform, the NDP also plans to "work with the LCBO to guarantee more shelf space to independently-produced Ontario wines and increase the Ontario grape content in “cellared in Canada” wines to support Ontario wineries."

Sadly, the two parties that I agree with most on this issue are also the ones that I'm least likely to vote for. But it's good to see the idea of private liquor sales at least being addressed in this election, as it could *potentially* open the door to booze-focused convenience stores - similar to Ryan's Party Store - and full on private liquor stores down the road (my hope, anyway).

What are your thoughts?
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Postby Derek » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:29 pm

Vote Green!

Actually, the only time I've voted Green was when Elizabeth May was running in the London bi-election. She didn't win, but people started to take notice.

Sure we'll probably never see them as any real opposition (at least in our lifetime), but they are a voice for some important issues.

The Liberal stance seems somewhat against. Didn't Ontario's Liberal party use to be a little more Libertarian? Just a bit? (I know they were always a little more conservative than the federal party).
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Postby JerCraigs » Tue Sep 27, 2011 5:35 pm

Furthermore, under the federally-negotiated Canada-EU Agreement on Trade in Wines and Spirits Drinks, as well as NAFTA, we must abide by specific restrictions and are limited to a set number of retailers for wine and beer.


Pretty much makes the rest of the comments a moot point, since they are basically saying if we open it up to just Ontario made products we are going to get sued.
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Postby shintriad » Tue Sep 27, 2011 5:38 pm

I've always supported Green, and I cite their booze policy as a key perennial reason to vote for them. The NDP, on the other hand, is the mortal enemy of those in favour of any kind of liberalization.
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Postby bufordsbest » Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:05 pm

this whole support for ontario wine movement pisses me off. why is wine treated like a first rate product and beer a 2nd?

edit: not that i'm against the wine movement, just that it should be an ontario beer and wine movement.
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Postby cmadd » Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:11 pm

JerCraigs wrote:
Furthermore, under the federally-negotiated Canada-EU Agreement on Trade in Wines and Spirits Drinks, as well as NAFTA, we must abide by specific restrictions and are limited to a set number of retailers for wine and beer.


Pretty much makes the rest of the comments a moot point, since they are basically saying if we open it up to just Ontario made products we are going to get sued.


What does set number of retailers have to do with the content of their stock?
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Postby JerCraigs » Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:32 pm

cmadd wrote:What does set number of retailers have to do with the content of their stock?


Depends how you define "number". Is the number:

A) Three outlets (Eg. Beer store, LCBO, producer owned stores) or
B) However many individual stores are enumerated in the agreement?
C) Some combination of the above.

If A, then no new streams of distribution would be allowed. (e.g. no corner stores.)

If B, then your options are:
- Close some LCBO storess to allow corner stores,and/or private stores to sell
- Abolish the LCBO and allow open season (not gonna happen)
- Privatize the LCBO and allow other outlets (unlikely)


The reason the content matters is that most of the party's are making reference to them selling only Ontario wine/beer a la Quebec. This opens NAFTA and trade related issues.
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Postby Bonesey » Wed Sep 28, 2011 8:11 am

Vote for the Freedom Party! Viva la revolution! In all seriousness could someone explain the rationale behind the Liberal sales tax on Ontario-made beer? How can local brewers remain competitive? If anything imports should be taxed at a higher rate, but I guess that would be ILLEGAL under NAFTA/EU trade laws. It boils my blood to see globalist treaties restrict our sovereignty. This isn't just a minor issue about cheap/convenient beer, which is sadly often parroted by those who want to derail the issue. This is about a billion $$ industry and supporting local businesses.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td2mKKlCWMw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Omhp05UolIw
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Postby Derek » Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:55 am

bufordsbest wrote:this whole support for ontario wine movement pisses me off. why is wine treated like a first rate product and beer a 2nd?

edit: not that i'm against the wine movement, just that it should be an ontario beer and wine movement.


Everyone here probably feels that way.

I remember when domestic wines were often crap and mostly viewed as a cheap way to get drunk... drunks were called winos! The local wines have improved (VQA probably helped a bit), but more importantly, the whole wine industry has been gentrified. Politicians can now show a little support, without discrediting their social responsibility.

Sadly, the vast majority of beer (over 80% from the big two) is still seen as crap, and the general public just sees it as a way to get drunk. Getting behind that image is political suicide.

As for Free-trade agreements, maybe we need legislation/taxation that favours small craft brewers (like the American Brewers Association, though I'd propose a lower cap). This would certainly favour our craft brewers, and also open the door for other microbreweries, though in reality, many of them are too small for such a large export.
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Postby Tapsucker » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:10 am

Interesting that the federally negotiated free trade agreement requires Ontario to keep it's current retailing system while other provinces have been able to open their systems up. It sounds like the Ontario government is passing the buck with this argument.

Personally, I don't mind the LCBO. My main issues with them are when they give imported products more attention than local, but that's just vendor's market development funds at work. The whole "Cellared In Canada" thing really pisses me off. It just reeks of deception. You'd think a 'socially responsible' organization would be a little more transparent.

These are things that could be fixed and are not important enough to me to prioritize over other issues.

Now, the Beer Store, that's another story. I'd probably vote for any idiot who took that monopoly away.

Skewed markets are always bad, but politicians can't help themselves. Just look at Hudak, the so called free market option, who is campaigning on more hydro subsidies rather than letting the rates rise to market rates. Even the right wingers will waste taxpayer money to buy votes!
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Postby SteelbackGuy » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:19 am

Tapsucker wrote:Just look at Hudak, the so called free market option, who is campaigning on more hydro subsidies rather than letting the rates rise to market rates. Even the right wingers will waste taxpayer money to buy votes!


Another reason not to vote for that party.
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Postby zane9 » Wed Sep 28, 2011 12:21 pm

This little nugget in the Angus Reid study caught my eye!

"48 per cent of Ontarians believe The Beer Store is publicly run. Only one-in-twenty (5%) are aware it is owned by foreign multi-national corporations."

Seems like educating the public on who owns what is the necessary first step.
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Postby Bytowner » Wed Sep 28, 2011 4:17 pm

zane9 wrote:This little nugget in the Angus Reid study caught my eye!

"48 per cent of Ontarians believe The Beer Store is publicly run. Only one-in-twenty (5%) are aware it is owned by foreign multi-national corporations."

Seems like educating the public on who owns what is the necessary first step.


Bingo! The debate would be very different if people knew what The Beer Store actually was. It's rare that I talk to friends or acquaintances who have a clue about that particular monstrosity.
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Postby Bytowner » Wed Sep 28, 2011 4:23 pm

Just wanted to add that it's up to us to make this an issue, rather than hoping someone writes a column or does a poll. If you're not challenging candidates or incumbents at the door, on the phone, during debates, and writing to anybody and everybody in the media, you don't have much right to bitch about it. Despite the suggestion above that this is a major issue, it just ain't.

I won't vote for a party like the PCs because they make a non-promise to maybe possibly do something at some point. I'd rather make the stance for the status-quo looks so absolutely absurd that nobody can possibly stand behind it. Stand up at a debate and ask the candidates why they support an organisation that is run by foreign corporations that actively discriminate against local businesses, and don't stand for a BS answer on it.
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Postby icemachine » Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:38 pm

SteelbackGuy wrote:
Tapsucker wrote:Just look at Hudak, the so called free market option, who is campaigning on more hydro subsidies rather than letting the rates rise to market rates. Even the right wingers will waste taxpayer money to buy votes!


Another reason not to vote for that party.


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