Friday, January 23, 2015

About killing the Beer Store/LCBO booze sales monopoly in Ontario

If I remember correctly, Reg Cohn at the Toronto Star was one of the first mainstream journos to take up the cause, long promulgated by the ultra right-wing Fraser Institute, to deregulate beer and liquor sales in Ontario.

It's a well financed lobbying campaign that hits all the right buttons.

Don't consumers deserve more choice?

Shouldn't the public have more options about where they buy their booze?

Won't private-sector efficiencies reduce the cost of this critical commodity?

Well, no...

Hell no!

I'll tell you right off the top that I have been for decades a very good customer of both the Beer Store and the LCBO monopolies. In fact, in one of my divorce proceedings the other side made an attempt to portray me as an alcoholic, if one can even imagine such a thing!

Truth be told, I've never suffered significant inconvenience by having to visit an actual Beer Store or LCBO to buy my medicine.

Sure, it would be easier to wobble down the street to pick up a six-pack at the local Mac's, but what the hell... could there be more at play here than my convenience?

The imaginary outrage against the Beer Store/LCBO combine is lavishly financed by the convenience store lobby, which is in turn lavishly financed by Alimentation Couche-Tard, which is a great Canadian success story, being today the largest convenience store chain on the planet.

Employees at Couche-Tard stores tend to earn minimum wage.

Employees at the Beer Store and the LCBO make more than that.

I'm more than willing to patronize a semi-monopoly if it means the folks working there will continue to make a decent wage. Saving a dollar or two on a bottle of wine or a case of beer while throwing thousands of Beer Store and LCBO workers into min wage penury doesn't strike me as a bargain.

How sad that both the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail have climbed aboard this bandwagon.

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