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July 29, 2021

Should booze be available in corner stores all across Canada?

Heading into the long weekend, Canadians may care about three things: booze, cottages and booze.

1337577_wine_swirl Make that four or five, I guess, if we toss in beer and Mike’s Hard Lemonade, which is only for girls and totally not for guys to sneak embarrassed, secretive sips of.

In any case, for Ontarians the Civic holiday, as its summer long weekend brethren do, does little more than tease us. Thanks to our archaic liquor laws, we can’t go buy our beverages at the corner store or supermarket like other provinces.

Of course, many of us hate this – so much so that 60 per cent of Ontarians said recently they want our province’s alcohol retail system to open up for competition. The question is: are they onto something?

Surely, the old “privatize the LCBO” – the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, a distributor of beer and spirits and the sole retailer of hard alcohol in the province – argument isn’t new. People have been calling for it for years.

But the booze watchdog is a serious cash cow for the province, raking in about $1.4 billion in profits (profits!) each year, so any talk of wiping out that revenue stream has been quickly swatted away by government leaders.

Still, the Ontario consumer looks for signs of hope.

After Premier Dalton McGuinty recently “poured cold water” on the proposal to allow the sale of alcohol at convenience and grocery stores, a Conservative MP, Elizabeth Witmer, said she wouldn’t rule out a change if her party takes provincial leadership in the election this fall, according to the Star.

Enough to get excited over? Of course not! But we’re dying here. When you can dart into any corner store in Quebec, our neighbouring province, and buy whatever booze you want, that’s a level of convenience that will always hang over us.

Your home province has its own rules on liquor sales, but there is a baseline question we can still ask here: against all else, do you think alcohol should be eligible for sale at variety stores and supermarkets, or should it be regulated by governments as a source of much-needed income?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...