POLITICS
05/22/2018 14:44 EDT | Updated 05/22/2018 14:47 EDT

Kathleen Wynne Blasts Doug Ford's 'Reckless' Plan For Beer, Wine In Corner Stores

The CEO of MADD Canada says the move would be a "major step backwards."

Nathan Denette/CP
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, left, and Minister of Finance Charles Sousa, right, pick beer at a Loblaws grocery store in Toronto on Dec. 15, 2015.

The Ontario Liberal leader who brought beer and wine to grocery stores in the province is blasting Progressive Conservatives for seeking to allow for booze to be sold in corner stores.

Kathleen Wynne went on the offensive in Toronto Tuesday at a press conference with the CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. She accused PC Leader Doug Ford of being "reckless" with his proposal, unveiled just ahead of a long weekend, to expand points of sale for beer and wine in the province to all grocery stores, box stores, and corner stores.

Wynne also charged that Ford would seek to allow cannabis in corner stores if Tories form government.

"You could have a situation where you have marijuana and beer and wine beside the candy bars," Wynne said. "That's the image we have to reconcile."

Earlier:

Shortly after becoming PC leader in March, Ford mused in an interview that he was open to seeing marijuana sold outside of government-run facilities. At a leaders' debate earlier this month, however, Ford said he did not favour pot in corner stores and suggested he was talking about the drug being available at LCBO stores. He also affirmed his opposition to safe injection sites that prevent opioid overdoses.

At the presser Tuesday, Wynne also called out Andrea Horwath's NDP for pushing for a more aggressive rollout for legal marijuana without, in her mind, a plan to make that happen. Wynne called her own plan "cautious but progressive."

MADD's Andrew Murie said Ford's plan would be a "major step backwards" on all the progress the province has made on curbing impaired driving. Alcohol in convenience stores, he said, would mean greater access for youth, more intoxicated people being served, and more drunk driving.

And Murie, who said his appearance should not be seen as an endorsement of Wynne's Liberals, also warned cannabis would be the next thing sold in corner stores.

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A reporter asked for a comparison in impaired driving statistics between Ontario and Quebec, where beer and wine is already sold in corner stores. Murie did not share any specific numbers but said the statistics are best in provinces where alcohol is more regulated.

Over the weekend, Horwath said she opposes Ford's proposal, saying that Ontario's current system is working fine.

"I'm going to be straight up about it: I don't think we need to have beer and wine in the corner stores," Horwath said.

Wynne's opposition to the Tory plan comes as her party runs ads featuring a woman lauding the Liberal leader as the premier who "made it possible to buy beer and wine in the grocery store."

Wynne's government allowed the sale of beer, cider, and wine in select grocery stores across the province in 2015, though she rejected the idea of permitting booze sales in corner stores.

More than 350 grocery stores are currently authorized to sell beer and cider, with another 70 allowed to sell wine.

On Victoria Day, Ontario PCs took to Twitter to promote their plan to Ontarians who might be "running low."

With files from The Canadian Press