If you tried to escape the summer heat and pick up an ice-cold Slurpee this weekend in Ontario, you might’ve encountered a provincial politician looking for beer.
In a series of photos and videos ranging from awkward to bizarre shared to social media this weekend, dozens of Progressive Conservative MPPs took to their neighbourhood convenience stores to promote Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s plan to cut ties with the Beer Store.
In order to sell beer and wine in convenience stores across the province, the Ford government must break the 10-year deal signed by its Liberal predecessors with Beer Store co-owners Molson, Labatt and Sleeman. That agreement allowed beer and wine to be sold in grocery locations in Ontario, but not in neighbourhood corner stores.
“That in the very, very near future,” Ontario Finance Minister Victor Fedeli said Monday. “We expect to bring this legislation for a final vote this week.”
The Beer Store has said it plans to challenge the bill in the courts. The union representing Beer Store employees is also speaking out against the move, warning of job losses.
Most Canadian provinces don’t sell alcohol outside of provincially run storefronts or licensed retailers. In B.C., beer, wine and spirits are sold in provincially owned and private liquor stores. Only beer is available in convenience stores in Newfoundland and Labrador, while beer and wine are sold in grocery stores and convenience stores across Quebec.
Whether it was awkwardly shaking hands with the person behind the till or browsing the potato chip aisles looking for non-existent beer, Ontario PCs got creative to sell the Ford government’s message. So let’s rank them!
7. Todd Smith leans in
In one photo, Ontario’s Economic Development Minister Todd Smith leans casually on a fridge containing soft drinks. His tie is loosened in that politician’s “I’m just like you” way with his sleeves rolled up like he’s ready to dive in and find the coldest Perrier at the back of the fridge. But Smith is there to bemoan the lack of beer and wine in convenience stores. Todd Smith is ready to take it seriously.
6. Laryssa Waler’s surprise board game party
Ford communications staffer Laryssa Waler went for the first-person view, panning her phone camera around an aisle of Old Dutch chips and a cooler full of water while expressing concerns about not being able to provide beer for impromptu board-game night guests — because who hasn’t had friends show up by surprise on their doorstep empty-handed and demand alcohol?
5. Caroline Mulroney walks the milk aisle
Some MPPs even produced videos to express their outrage. In a recorded walk-and-talk, Ontario Attorney General Caroline Mulroney wanders the dairy aisle of a convenience store in Holland Landing. With practised gait, she stares down the barrel of the camera and argues there should be wine alongside the yogurt behind her.
4. Parm Gill dresses it up
If you’re shopping at a convenience store and you’re Ontario MPP Parm Gill, you do it in a full suit. In this video, Gill provides a tantalizing ad for beef jerky, standing beside an elaborate display as he promotes adding beer and wine to convenience stores. This one even has the added production value of a cut to a second scene, where Gill chats with the store owner in front of the slurpee machine. Now that’s production!
2. Finance Minister Vic Fideli at the Circle K on a Saturday morning
This one makes the list largely because I have serious questions about what Fedeli is buying at his local corner store every week at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning, as he claims. That is way too early for a Baja Blast Mountain Dew Slurpee. But apparently, Fedeli is a convenience store connoisseur, as he shared images from at least four different locations across Ontario Saturday. The man obviously knows his way around.
2. Stan Cho gives us an art tour
My personal favourite might be this video of MPP Stan Cho slowly walking a lap of his local convenience store. As Cho talks about his family’s history, and why people should support Ford’s move, take special note of the velvet wolf painting behind him.
And they say art is dead. Forget a six-pack, I want that wolf pack hanging on my living room wall.
1. Dave Smith can’t believe it
He’s truly an icon. In one photo shared to social media Saturday, Ontario MPP Dave Smith stands agape in front of a fridge containing chocolate milk, sour cream and bagged milk. “That feeling when you can’t get some cold beer at your corner store,” the caption reads.
It’s a perfect image. What Smith is doing here is the same look my dad gives his dog when the pooch accidentally ate the leftover pumpkin pie. It’s the look you make when you walk outside and it immediately starts raining.
Now, I’m curious what sort of convenience store just has a fridge with chocolate milk, sour cream, and bagged milk and seemingly nothing else. Who is stocking that fridge? Is everything else sold out? Or does this convenience store only sell chocolate milk, sour cream and bagged milk, alongside the various tools and hardware on the wall behind Smith? These are the important questions Smith should take up with his constituents.
Smith’s photo was quickly roasted by the internet.
But the internet also had serious questions about the campaign as a whole. Some spoofed the tweets to call out Ford’s government for other controversial policies.
While others went looking for convenience store items at liquor stores.
Honestly though, let’s just be grateful we live in the age of the Conservative convenience-store selfie. It won’t last forever.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story indicated that the fridge in MPP Dave Smith’s photo contained bags of ice. In fact, it contains a beloved Ontario staple, bagged milk.
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