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Monday, April 27, 2009

PC leadership hopefuls on the Beer Store's distribution monopoly

The-beer-store-791533As reported earlier today, Randy Hillier has promised that as premier he would end the Beer Store's monopoly on distribution and would allow corner stores to sell beer and wine.

It's too bad that there isn't talk of also ending the province's liqour monopoly, but frankly this is a politically smart way to breach the subject.

As Hillier points out, the Beer Store is actually a government-sanctioned monopoly owned by foreign companies. The foreign ownership doesn't much concern me, but it does bring into question why the Beer Store's monopoly isn't questioned more often by those who it does concern.

What is outrageous is that the Beer Store's monopoly status forces any microbreweries or new beers trying to make it into Ontario to allow their competitors to do their distribution and marketing. Think of the incentives this creates!

William Joseph reported this weekend that Christine Elliott has also expressed some enthusiasm for privatizing liquor sales (though we can assume this would be bound by her commitment to the party's policy process) and that, unfortunately, Tim Hudak did not share her enthusiasm. Still waiting to hear if Frank Klees has a position on this issue - I have it on good authority that his team is working hard and policy announcements can probably be expected soon.

Posted by Janet Neilson on April 27, 2009 | Permalink


It is hard to imagine that in this day and age, we are still talking about this rather odd situation where Liquor and beer stores exist seperately and bottles, including Wine and spirits purchased at the LCBO, have to be returned to The Beer Store.

Time to get rid of the moral yoke and go the way the EU has = specialty stores exist, beer and wine plus spirits are sold at every grocery store and chain.

Bottles are turned into recyle bins.

It is not that long ago when Canadians had to fill out a list of what they wanted, hand it to a clerk at a government run store and have the information checked to see if that person was on the "Interdict List".

Oh how far we have come (NOT).

Posted by: The LS from Sk | 2009-04-27 8:33:19 AM

A reminder perhaps for those who despise the state owned alcohol monopoly how David Peterson won an election by promising to put alcohol saless into corner variety stores, like they have in Quebec and Newfoundland.
Typical of lying Liberals, immediately on being elected he killed the idea.
John Tory made a half assed attempt in the late stages but I suspect his high powered lobby connections were greater than any corner variety store ownwer's welfare.
Just like the health care industry, the alcohol sales monopoly is unionized and without competition.

Posted by: Joe Molnar | 2009-04-27 8:39:06 AM

We're in the grips of a global recession where Ontario is shedding tens of thousands of jobs every month and Randy is announcing policy on the LCBO.

Wow. Minor league.

Posted by: ToryInTheGTA | 2009-04-27 8:42:44 AM

This trend will continue to accelerate! There will be more job losses than there are people in Ontario! Panic!

Posted by: K Stricker | 2009-04-27 11:34:15 AM

Great post, Janet.

Why is the Beer Store a foreign monopoly? Who owns it?

In response to ToryInTheGTA, Hillier is showing a willingness to reduce government intervention in the economy, which would help Ontario out of this recession. That's makes him a major league candidate in my books.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-04-27 11:48:13 AM

Matthew - from Wikipedia, "Forty-nine percent of the company is owned by the Labatt arm of InBev of Belgium; forty-nine percent is owned by Molson Coors Brewing Company which has headquarters in both the United States and Canada; and the remaining two percent is owned by Sleeman Breweries, an arm of Sapporo of Japan. [1]"

The Beer Store wasn't originally foreign owned, but it effectively is now. As I said in the post, though, that's not my main concern, it just makes it strange that the "buy Canadian!" crowd hasn't thrown a fit.

Posted by: Janet | 2009-04-27 1:59:12 PM

Shifting beer sales to corner stores is the worse thing they could do, that guarentees the highest markups. Let grocery stores sell beer and wine, they already have low markups and efficient distribution.

Posted by: Eric Gisin | 2009-04-27 6:26:42 PM

Eric - if you're worried about the high price of alcohol, then alcohol taxes and legislation, which set high minimum prices for all products, are where the blame should lie.

I certainly hope they allow grocery stores to sell beer and wine, but the fact that convenience stores have higher markups shouldn't stop them from being able to try to compete.

Posted by: Janet | 2009-04-28 1:42:17 PM

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