Credits: tan Behal Photo/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency
Just as two provincial by-elections have been called, the battle has heated up on whether free enterprise should sell liquor in Ontario.
Premier Dalton McGuinty has rejected the proposal to allow corner stores to carry beer and wine. It's a decision Ontario PC MPP Peter Shurman believes slams the door on keeping prices as competitive as possible, and ignores the entrepreneurial spirit of Ontario's private sector. He gives the private sector more credit than he says the premier does.
"I'd also give them more latitude to do what they do which is behave as responsible adults among their businesses. It's government's job to set a framework and then get out of the way and let that business happen," Shurman said.
The current system in place gives the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) monopoly control over the purchase and sale of liquor. Last week the McGuinty government announced the largest expansion of LCBO stores in history, at a cost of $100 million over two years - a move the Ontario PCs question given the Liberals' $16 billion deficit.
This week McGuinty raised concerns over the identification checks of minors who could sneak the purchase of liquor outside the doors of an LCBO.
"We believe it's a system that enables us to provide the greatest guarantee to moms and dads that when a 16 or 17 year old shows up to buy beer or some liquor, that we have the necessary measures in place to ferret them out."
However, convenience stores are strict on identification checks, given they are heavily controlled under the Smoke Free Ontario Act. According to Shurman these stores are incredibly responsible.
"They're arguably the best people at carding youngsters that exist - even better than the LCBO...I have great confidence that if we were to put beer and wine in those outlets that it would be sold only to qualified people."
It also comes down to convenience and shopping close to home, Shurman believes, and the fact that other Canadian jurisdictions permit the sale of liquor at convenience stores with no issues.