The looming LCBO strike threat has suddenly gotten all sorts of Ontarians anxious about a potentially dry next few days (or weeks). LCBO workers, who are represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), voted 95 per cent in favour of striking, and the deadline is approaching. Yet a strike is in no one's best interests. Now, this entire scenario would change if the availability of alcohol were to be completely diminished. This inconvenience may cause citizens to want an alternative to the LCBO in the event it is rendered incapable by a strike.
Political leaders are again debating what to do with the LCBO. Some want to privatize it. Some want to retain the status quo. Rather than rely on the yearly profits from a single corporation, the government should auction off the right to operate alcohol wholesale operations and retail stores to the highest bidder. This would not be a full privatization, but effectively a franchising.
Each time we go to our favourite wine shop in B.C., we'd leave a little bit exhilarated and a little bit saddened. Consoling ourselves over a bottle of a new found gem, we would fantasize about the wine shop we would run back home in Ontario if given the chance, and wonder aloud if our province would ever get with the program as BC had? Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when the Wine Council of Ontario invited us to a briefing to discuss that very possibility. For the last few years, WCO has been conducting studies on the value of opening Ontario's wine market to independent entrepreneurs. Of course, wine and alcohol can be a contentious and divisive issue.
Canadian provinces are now free to set their own policies for wine trade without the federal government imposing any rules of its own. Provinces are still only giving an inch, allowing for tourists from other provinces to bring back some wine and alcohol with them. And would you like to know why? Taxes.