Article by Ed Whitcomb, Ottawa Citizen
Recent developments in Ontario suggest that our problem with booze and pot is not that the general population is or might become drunk, high and out-of-control but rather that the politicians and bureaucrats are drunk with power and the insatiable desirable to control the lives of ordinary citizens.
The government has become a control-freak, as demonstrated by recent changes to liquor regulations and the proposal that the LCBO sell pot. We might rename it the Liquor and Pot Control-Freak Board of Ontario, the LPCFBO.
With recent changes to liquor laws, one might find a shopping mall with the following array of retail outlets subject to control by a government determined to protect irresponsible adults from themselves.
One grocery store will be licensed to sell any type of wine. Another will be licensed to sell Ontario wines. Some might be licensed to sell beer, or some brands of beer. Others will not be licensed to sell any wines or beer.
None will be licensed to sell any hard liquor. The government-owned LCBO will be licensed to sell all kinds of alcohol as well as beer in specified small quantities and with a restricted choice.
The privately owned Beer Store cannot sell wine or liquor but can buy wine and liquor bottles previously purchased from the LCBO next door.
None of the above differences have the slightest thing to do with the “control” part of the mandate of the Liquor Control Act, which was designed 90 years ago to eliminate drunkenness.
The only “control” being exercised is that of politicians and bureaucrats over which stores can sell what, when, how, where, and to whom, and the fact that any store that wants to sell booze has to come to the politicians and bureaucrats asking for the privilege of selling it (in return for what?) The politicians and bureaucrats can then dispense the favour, or reject it for the favour of whomever is opposed to whatever licence is being requested. After weighing the political advantages of the decision, of course.
Then, next July, in another corner of the mall, a subsidiary of the LCBO will be selling pot. The proposed regulations reflect the “control-freak” mentality of the government. The clerks will be civil servants, not businesspeople. The supplies will be hidden from view. Customers cannot compare and select products. Sampling will not likely be available. A province of 14 million will be served by 40 stores, which guarantees a vast shortage of supply.
This approach is being defended as “cautious,” when in fact it is foolhardy as it guarantees that hundreds of thousands of customers will use illegal suppliers because of the deliberately limited availability.