This week, most Canadians who wanted to be sitting in a cozy pub or friendly bar to watch Sunday's gold medal hockey game were in luck. Authorities in jurisdictions across the country allowed bars to extend their hours and serve liquor beyond normal times in order to accommodate the popular desire to cheer on team Canada with a beer in hand and fellow fans all around. I don't want to come down too hard on this example of regulatory flexibility, because that's certainly something we could do with much more of. But the fact that special legal dispensation was required for something as innocuous as letting people have a beer in a bar to watch a sporting event at an unusual time of day should make us all shake our heads. As long as they're being responsible about the basics (not selling to minors, not letting noise rise to nuisance level, etc.), bars that want to serve patrons the in the wee hours of the morning should be permitted to do so -- and not just when there's an Olympic hockey game on the telly. Last-call restrictions are an example of outmoded paternalism that causes more trouble (incentive to down multiple drinks quickly before closing time; bunches of inebriated people flooding the streets at the exact same time; illegal after-hours clubs where adherence to criminal laws is difficult to monitor) than it saves.
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