The MPP for Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington and Ontario PC Leadership candidate, Randy Hillier, has announced that he would allow competition to what he describes as “the foreign owned Beer Store.” He is referring, of course, to the virtual monopoly on sales of beer in Ontario that The Beer Store has. That Labatt Brewing Company, Molson Canada and Sleeman Breweries own The Beer Store, and those breweries are all foreign owned.
The Beer Store is not a full monopoly only because the government-owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) also sells beer and themselves are a virtual monopoly when it comes to selling wine and spirits.
The Randy Hillier for Leader Web site quotes Mr. Hillier as follows:
Beer distribution in this province is currently controlled by foreign companies. In these tough times we need to give struggling small Canadian businesses like corner stores, restaurants and hotels more opportunities.
Dalton McGuinty is costing local Ontario businesses millions of dollars, to the benefit of foreign-owned breweries.”
Mr. Hillier has the right idea when he proposes to allow corner stores to sell wine and beer. But why stop there? Why not also open up the sale of spirits to private enterprise and end finally our archaic paternalistic, big-brother system of government-knows-best? Why perpetuate the ridiculous myth that only the LCBO is responsible enough to be entrusted with liquor sales in Ontario?
For the year ended Mar. 31, 2007, the LCBO had revenues of nearly $4 billion. It is disgraceful that successive conservative governments in Ontario should have condoned this shameful cash-grab. The LCBO scoops $4 billion out of the economy of Ontario and Canada, and we conservatives apparently think this is a good, socially responsible thing? Good grief!
Virtually every other free society in the world has an open, private-sector market for beer, wine and spirits. But not Ontario. Sure, other jurisdictions have rules for selling and serving these potentially dangerous products, but they do not monopolize the trade.
Government interference in my life is smothering me and I cannot find a political party that will haul it off my back.
Successive governments in Ontario have been too busy operating liquor stores, lotteries and gambling palaces, banning Pit Bull dogs and, as recently announced, picking winners and losers among our industries and private enterprise companies. At the same time, they have ignored the upkeep on our bridges, schools, sewers and other infrastructure. They have proven themselves incapable of providing well-rounded, cost-efficient healthcare, or a basic student-first public school system where teachers are not the be-all end-all, not to mention their lack of enforcement of our laws in places like Caledonia.
I doubt we will ever see beer in corner stores. This is a promise we have heard time and again, but it has never been kept. I doubt this time will be any different.