The Ontario government, morally bankrupt and intellectually impoverished, are asking an advisory council to “optimize the full value” of the provincially owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) and the utilities, Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation.
Finance Minister Charles Sousa said, “We are looking to maximize the value of our Crown corporations owned by the people of Ontario. … Continuing public ownership, however, remains a key priority.”
Sousa announced that Ed Clark, president and CEO of TD Bank Group, will lead the new advisory council and will be joined by former PC finance minister, Janet Ecker, former NDP minister, Frances Lankin, former president and CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, David Denison and president and CEO of Cineplex Entertainment, Ellis Jacob.
What special knowledge or expertise would two former politicians and the head of a pension fund have to offer, I wonder, that is not available within the civil service or among the elected officials at Queen’s Park?
And Frances Lankin, really?
In 2010, Ms. Lankin was part of an “expert” panel to do a social assistance review—Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario. The government, however, chose not to accept the panel’s main recommendation—to merge Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program. This recommendation was generally considered central to the Commission’s final 2012 report’s 108 recommendations. So much for Ms. Lankin’s advice.
I guess, she’s back to try again
This latest “advisory council” seems to be pretty much a waste of time for all concerned—the sort of wheel-spinning we’ve seen throughout the McGuinty-Wynne administrations. This government has become notorious for seeking advice but ignoring key elements so that the exercise is made fruitless.
The right thing to do is end the province’s monopoly and privatize the LCBO, opening up the sale and distribution of beer and spirits to convenience stores, grocery stores, etc. Why? Because the LCBO is a consumer rip-off and a bloated rest-home for overpaid, underworked union members and government patronage appointees.
The easiest way for the Ontario government to squeeze more money out of the LCBO is to raise its prices. We don’t need ex-politicians to tell us how to do that. The LCBO is a monopoly so how hard would that be? The right thing, though, is to sell it off and start treating the residents of Ontario as adults, and stop treating us like dimwits who aren’t socially responsible enough to be trusted around alcohol.
Proof that alcohol can be sold successfully in privately-owned stores is provided abundantly by the existence of privately-owned The Beer Store’s hundreds of outlets and the more than 200 LCBO “agency stores” operated under an agreement with retailers in smaller communities. LCBO staff are not used in agency stores. There are also dozens of wine stores throughout the province, which are owned by Ontario wineries. My neighbourhood grocery store here in Burlington, in fact, has one such non-LCBO wine boutique within its store. Unfortunately, this small outlet only sells its own brands of wine.
Most arguments the Liberal government uses to support its monopoly on alcoholic beverages are weak and sometimes outright bogus. Now, though, with trade unions pretty much controlling Kathleen Wynne’s agenda—privatization, for example, is anathema to unions—they’d never give Wynne the OK to end this egregious policy.
Frankly, given the need for trade union approval, it’s highly unlikely anything worthwhile will come of this latest advisory council.