Another attempt to open up beer and wine sales in Ontario, another quick refusal by Queen's Park.
It’s become a perennial drama: the Ontario Convenience Stores Association drums up publicity for its latest push to convince Queen’s Park to allow beer sales at corner stores, and Queen’s Park responds with a resounding, “Um, no.” The difference on this occasion is that the whole story has unfolded in record time.
The OCSA, an industry group that represents a number of Ontario convenience-store chains, put out a press release yesterday morning saying that it would be announcing a new proposal—something to do with selling Ontario-made craft beer and wine. Presumably, the association is hoping to lure legislators to the negotiating table by promising benefits to local breweries and wineries. We don’t know for sure, though, because the promised announcement hasn’t actually happened yet. It’s scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
Despite the fact that the OCSA hasn’t even publicly made its case, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa has already poured cold water (or, cold beer?) on the idea. He preempted the association’s announcement by telling the Canadian Press that the Liberal government definitely won’t be extending alcohol sales to convenience stores, partly because of concerns about private businesses selling booze to minors. Right now, the Progressive Conservatives are the only major Ontario political party actively pushing for beer-sales reform, probably in part because they consider it a crowd-pleasing position. Isn’t it, though?