The premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, tells us that Ontario won’t go back to its buck-a-beer days… pity. Those were better days. He says it’s part of the “endless fog” of pre-election musings to even suggest we do so. He scolds us when he says that people have more important issues in mind when it comes to the October 6 election, such as the economy, jobs, education and health care.
So what has happened since the premier and Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan quietly passed a regulation effectively outlawing the popular buck-a-beer, bowing to pressure from the big breweries—his pals—and disguising the measure as being made to promote “social responsibility”? (According to sources, a letter released at the time showed Duncan was acceding to a demand by the brewing industry.)
I take from McGuinty’s remarks that back when we could get 24 beers for $24 a case, people were not worried about the economy, jobs, education and health care. And that’s why his government could concentrate on the welfare of the provinces largest and richest brewers. Back then, he and Duncan apparently had time to accede to brewers’ demands that beer from smaller breweries like Lakeport Brewing Co.’s Honey Larger receive a price increase, even though they did not ask for one. The popularly priced buck-a-beer was cutting into the sales of powerhouses Labatt and Molson, and we couldn’t have that. According to one Liberal insider, “The brewers are literally the most successful lobby that is out there.”
According to McGuinty, the minimum price of a case of beer was increased for the sake of “social responsibility.” Talk about “endless fog.” An average senior couple on a fixed income who likes to have a beer once in a while has to pay more because the premier says we need more “social responsibility.” Wow!
Is this the same social responsibility that promotes liquor sales with glossy Vintages catalogs and fancy websites? Or perhaps it’s the monopoly our provincial government maintains on legal gambling and the high-profile promotion campaigns for that self-destroying vice? And what about the rampant corruption within its tightly controlled gaming industry? Social responsibility indeed!
“Endless fog?” Well, perhaps October 6 will see and end to it… at least, to McGuinty’s version.