So, what's on YOUR mind?
Begin Ontario liquor sales rant – The link below is for an article on the unholy union between the LCBO and The Beer Store. It exposes the secret agreement between the two that inexplicably limits the amount of beer the LCBO can sell.
What you have to know going in is that The Beer Store (corporately known as Brewer’s Retail Inc.) is a privately owned corporation whose main partners are foreign entities; Sapporo (Japan), Coors-Molson (US) and InBev (Belgium). One of the longest held and widely believed misconceptions in Ontario is that Beer Store is run by the provincial government. A notion The Beer Store wants you to believe because as consumers, we are more likely to gripe and accept price fixing if we think the government is behind it. For example, we chose where we buy our groceries based on selection and price. If a grocery store is too expensive or don’t have what you want you simply move your business to their competitor. But you never walk into the Service Ontario office and argue that they are charging you too much to renew your vehicle registration nor do you leave because you think their service is shitty. Why would you? As a government agency they have no competitors. Even if we don’t like it we are stuck with it. (For the record I think my local Service Ontario offices are very efficient, I am using them to prove a point and not to complain about them)
So the Beer Store is glad for you to think they are a government agency. As much as you think the price of beer is too high you accept it because there is this underlying belief that somehow we are being fleeced by the government. But in reality it is plain and simple price fixing that is ensuring enormous profits for the foreign companies that have a monopoly on beer sales.
By contrast the LCBO is in fact a government agency. It is run by bureaucrats and generates a tremendous amount of profit for the province that is used to fund hospitals and infrastructure projects that would otherwise be paid out of tax dollars.
You can read the article yourself but in short it discusses the shady, secretive deal between The Beer Store and the LCBO and it exposes the strange agreement that limits the amount of beer the LCBO can sell. The big question is why would the government make an agreement that would reduce the amount of money the province makes but guarantees higher profits for a foreign, privately held company? The answer of course is The Beer Store is an enormous contributor to all political parties. So the politicians have a choice; empower a government agency that produces profits to help keep the constituents taxes lower or provide a fatcat deal to The Beer Store to ensure that they continue to fund their personal campaigns. Clearly the politicians have decided to protect themselves over the people they represent.
As for the benefit of the LCBO as a government entity (ie why is our government in retail alcohol sales?), I have an opinion about that but will have to be a story for a different day.
For further info about the unusual liquor control laws in Ontario there is a documentary called “Straight Up: The Issue of Alcohol in Ontario”. It is a bit long for the subject matter but explains how the Province ended up being one of the few places in North American where government control on liquor sales is absolute.
You can view the documentary for free here
The Toronto Star Article is here
– End Ontario liquor sales rant