Convenience stores are back with their push to sell beer and wine but Premier Dalton McGuinty’s minority Liberal government isn’t buying the idea.
That’s not deterring the Ontario Convenience Stores Association from trying to get on the public’s radar, this time using a petition of 112,500 names gathered at over 220 locations across the province.
“It makes no sense to anyone” that beer and wine can be sold at LCBO “agency stores” in rural areas, which also sell food and snacks, but not in corner stores, said association chief executive Dave Bryans.
“It’s just archaic.”
While Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said he’s open to a debate on the issue, centred around the question of what should the role of government be in alcohol sales, the McGuinty administration is standing firm.
“This government believes that Ontarians are well served by the current retail system for beverage alcohol,” said Aly Vitunski, spokeswoman for Finance Minister Dwight Duncan.
“The current system balances access for both customers and suppliers with social responsibility. We take the concerns of convenience store owners seriously, but we believe the current system of selling liquor is an effective way to guard the public interest.”
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Former Liberal premier David Peterson promised beer and wine in corner stores in his 1985 election campaign and so did Tory leader Mike Harris in his 1995 platform, the Common Sense Revolution.
Much can, and should, be written about the ways in which Ontario and English Canada are conservative, at least conformist.