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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Stupidity in a bottle

From a pro-LCBO newspaper, the soul-curdling tale of moving Toronto's marvellous Le Sélect bistro 500 metres from Queen Street to Wellington Street:

The most recent bureaucratic gut-shot happened just two days before the restaurant's Jan. 18 opening. A representative from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (the body that oversees the regulation of liquor licences) deemed Le Sélect's wine collection unsellable.

The problem, the partners learned, was that all alcohol owned by a restaurant needs to have been purchased with an active liquor licence. But its 12,000-bottle cellar had been purchased under the Queen St. liquor licence, not the new Wellington one. To sell wine purchased with a defunct licence, according to the law, is essentially bootlegging.

The AGCO said this could be remedied by packing up the wine, shipping it to the LCBO, selling it to the LCBO, buying it back again under the new licence, and shipping it back to the Wellington St. cellar.

"Our concern is that we don't want someone bringing in wine to a licensed establishment that may have been made in someone's cellar or an illegal manufacturing operation," says [AGCO spokesperson Av] Campion. "That's our public safety and consumer protection measure."

And they accomplish that goal by forcing a respected 30-year-old restaurant to account for its entire wine cellar. When it moves. If it had stayed on Queen Street, after all, there would have been zero chance of the proprietors fermenting grape juice behind a radiator and siphoning it into Château Latour bottles. This is bureaucracy run so amok that it sounds like it should be an urban legend.

And I realize this isn't quite the same thing as my endless grievances with the LCBO, but it is certainly indicative of this province's criminally weird attitude towards alcohol. (From Jacob Richler's article on the same subject: " 'she [the AGCO inspector] kept referring to it as "liquor," ' says [Le Sélect proprietor] Mr. Geisweiller, with a distaste that can only be successfully communicated with a French accent.")

Oh, and I love this:

He [Av Campion] believes this dispute can be solved if Le Sélect and the LCBO work together to account for the older vintages.

Or, Av, if that is your real name, you could just bugger off and leave these good people alone.

(Cross-posted to Tart Cider.)

Posted by Chris Selley on January 25, 2006 | Permalink


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Sob story. The LCBO is wonderful because protect us from... uh, well, since they've been around we've had fewer, uh... help me here, people! We NEED the LCBO because, er...

OK, I give up. Remind me why the hell we need an LCBO.


Posted by: John | 2006-01-25 9:38:38 PM

You need a lcbo to harass you. Otherwise, you could live normally nad be happy. Bureaucracy exists for the sole purpose of bureacrats. Otherwise it is a pain in the ars.

Posted by: Rémi Houle | 2006-01-25 9:54:25 PM

Ontario is still Liberal, that's why we have an LCBO. Oh yeah, it makes a lot of bucks for the Treasury of On.
And of course ya don't wanna make MADD mad.
My personal opinion, privatize and stick wine and beer in the corner store. Funny, Libs want to legalize polygamy but ya can't buy a beer at the corner.

Posted by: Rick | 2006-01-25 10:57:11 PM

Just wait until they figure out how to tax polygamy.


Posted by: John | 2006-01-25 11:05:08 PM

Rick, a study came out a few months ago showing that the gov't of Alberta made more from our private system than Ontario and Quebec did with the state system. Go figure.


"In 2002-03, Alberta’s flat markup on alcoholic beverages brought in more for the provincial government ($24.27 per litre of absolute alcohol sold) than the Ontario ($23.42) or Quebec ($23.43) governments collected in dividends from their respective publicly owned monopolies."

Posted by: Kathryn | 2006-01-25 11:10:44 PM

Pipe down.

1. The Star is pro-LCBO? How? The story makes the LCBO look like idiots.

2. The LCBO/AGCO stance on Le Select is moronic. Appalling.

3. Av Campion is a real name. "Av" is an abbreviation.

4. Don't give us your tory crap. Mike Harris came into office breathing fire and promising to privatize everything that moved. Then he found out how much cash the LCBO spills into the Ontatio treasury every year. Harris is gone, but the LCBO motors on. Can you say, "cash cow"? It will NEVER go away.

5. The wine and spirits industry likes it just fine that way.

Posted by: David Basskin | 2006-01-26 1:00:23 AM

We need the LCBO to make sure no one can buy a beer to drink at home after 9 pm. C'mon John, buddy.

Posted by: underemployed buddha | 2006-01-26 2:24:20 AM

Kathryn is right, which is exactly why I support completely getting AGLC out of the liquor business entirely. (Then we can make it just the GLC, and then if we get rid of the gaming end of it it can just hit the dustbin of history).

I'll campaign on it now: when I become premier I will remove all laws on the books with respect to liquor save one: it being illegal to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated (note this is not the same as "no open alcohol in the vehicle"). I'll already get the support of every university student and alumnus, and every voting wino in the province, which I think is a large untapped constituency.

Posted by: Feynman and Coulter's Love Child | 2006-01-26 2:37:45 AM

Not the only recent idiocy.

The Lyfford wine agency has to be shut for several weeks as they exceeded (back in 2000) the amount of alcohol they had on consignment. It being illegal to store more than 150L of alcohol.

The LCBO not only mandates that the wine agencies exist, do business solely through the LCBO, but also limits the size of their business, and can put them out of business if they fall offside of the regulations due to the actions of the LCBO. Alcohol can get held up by the LCBO and put people offside of the 150L limit, which then allows the LCBO to put them out of business.

This is yet one more thing that I despise Harris for. 2 Majorities and he did almost nothing. I hope the next Tory majority in Ont scorches the earth in the first 100 days. Since they already believe that you are the devil, no need to worry about their sensibilities. Break the unions, monopolies, and bureaucrats, and then you have 4 years to show the benefits of good government.

Posted by: annextraitor | 2006-01-26 7:26:15 AM

Hey, annextraitor, you forgot to suggest that everybody on welfare or in public housing be herded into the Jane-Finch neighbourhood and that it then be surrounded in razor wire with armed guards 'n' searchlights every 500 yards. Keep the problem contained, eh? Then sell the vacated premises for condos. Mandatory minimum sentences? Hell, those guys are all probably guilty of something, or they will be soon, right? The efficient way is to pre-empt the problem by putting them in preventive detention - for their own good, and society's. Right? Or is that for you imaginary Tory majority's second term?

Posted by: Realpolitiker | 2006-01-26 10:39:57 AM

Geez, Realpolitiker. You seem to be a little confused about the difference between advocating more individual freedom (ie allowing freedom of association, removing government restrictions on competition in favour of individual choice, and shedding intrusion in our lives), and removing freedom. I didn't see any reference to limiting individual freedom in annextraitor's submission. Where did you get it from?

Posted by: expat | 2006-01-26 12:03:14 PM

Gee, I guess I misinterpreted, "scorch the earth ... break the unions." Doesn't sound like an environment particularly conducive to the celebration of individual freedom. But, hey, this IS the Western Standard blog, and I was positing the rounding-up of welfare recipients, public housing tenants and other effluvia, all known to be the source of crime. You're not soft on crime - like the Liberals - are ya?

Posted by: Realpolitiker | 2006-01-26 12:12:41 PM

Ah, I understand where you're coming from now, Realpolitiker. You're advocating massive government control of entire groups of people, as "sources" of crime, where I see individual choices as the source of individual behaviour.

Posted by: expat | 2006-01-26 1:33:15 PM

This ain't no poilitical issue!
It's a lack of common sense issue!

Now given the fact that this kind of logic is typical of the Toronto and Ontario bureaucracies and that people don't seem to care enough to change it and that a lot of people in Toronto did vote Dipper or LIberal....................

Posted by: PGP | 2006-01-26 3:26:43 PM

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