The argument around which retailers should have the right to sell hooch in this country is exasperating, emotional and enduring. Recent developments make the subject ripe for a recap.
Herewith, an inventory of the most up-to-date deets on the evolving subject of alcohol retailing in Canada:
• Under the Canadian Constitution, the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages is the sole responsibility of the provinces.
• Alberta became the first Canadian jurisdiction to privatize liquor retailing, warehousing and distribution in 1993. It remains the only one to have completely privatized its retail liquor industry.
• Wine and beer are sold in convenience stores in Quebec.
• Saskatchewan just joined BC and Nova Scotia with the introduction of a more liberal private-public liquor-store system.
• In BC, a new proposal designed to overhaul the province’s liquor laws has sparked fresh debate on the sale of beer and wine in supermarkets and convenience stores.
• 670 private liquor stores currently operate in BC.
• An Ontario Convenience Stores Association survey found that 67 percent of Ontarians want to be able to purchase beer, wine and spirits at their local convenience store.
• Ontarians bought some $9.5 billion in alcohol last year.
• Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has insinuated that she’s prepared to entertain more liberal liquor-sale laws in a bid to boost Ontario’s wine industry.
• The LCBO operates three new “boutiques” that hawk VQA Ontario craft wines.
• Select Ontario supermarkets will soon feature LCBO “express stores.”
• Mac’s Convenience Stores has declared that it will build 27 ultra-modern, $2-million stores across the province within two years of being granted the right to sell beer, wine and spirits at its 547 Ontario stores.
• Mac’s already operates two flagship “agency” stores —one in Thamesford, one in Craigleith — that are permitted to sell alcohol.