Convenience store owner Joanne McMurchy said she began polling customers in Vanessa, Ont., a tiny hamlet south of Brantford that's a 20-minute drive from the nearest beer store, and the petition spread across the province.
"Everybody came to support us," McMurchy said. "They've already made a list of what kinds they would like to have at our store... we're there to serve them so that's what we would like to do."
PC Leader Tim Hudak said there needs to be a debate about the monopoly that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) enjoys and whether a government entity needs to be involved in both purchasing and retailing of alcohol.
"Should government be in the liquor sales, liquor distribution business, the regulatory side as well?" Hudak said. "I've been a long proponent of some kind of choice in the system."
While Hudak didn't rule out beer and wine in convenience stores, he said there are many options that should be considered including private franchises of the LCBO.
Aly Vitunski, spokewoman for Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, says in an e-mail that the government believes Ontarians are well served by the existing alcohol retail system.
"The current system balances access for both customers and suppliers with social responsibility. We take the concerns of convenience store owners seriously, but we believe the current system of selling liquor is an effective way to guard the public interest," Vitunski says.
Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA), said corner stores already sell age-restricted products such as tobacco.
The OCSA has already released the results of a mystery shopper study that shows convenience store owners do a better job of checking ID than LCBO stores, Bryans said.