It's about time.
An association of convenience store owners in Ontario has presented that province's government with a petition signed by more than 100,000 people. They want to sell booze from corner stores.
It's already happening, to a certain extent. As in Nova Scotia, convenience stores in smaller Ontario communities can get a license to distribute liquor as an outlet of the LCBO (similar to the NSLC).
But why not go further?
Ontarians and Nova Scotians don't need liquor monopolies. It's an outdated holdover from a morally-straitjacketed era. This popular product would be a boon to small business owners and an improved service for customers.
Private stores could offer improved hours, and competitive prices. Most of all, there's location, location, location. Imagine being able to saunter down the block to pick up an extra bottle of wine.
Arguments against it inevitably invoke safety: liquor will get into the hands of children, goes the ‘logic'.
Prove it, we say. Run a year-long study in a single market, testing clerks no more rigorously than the testing regime currently used at NSLC stores, and prove the standards are more lax - prove private stores will serve minors more often than NSLC shops. Besides, if that's really a serious concern, why does the NSLC already license independent stores to be distributors?
Safety matters, of course, but it's a question of balance. And it's a question of freedom.
Yes, freedom. The crazy old idea that the government doesn't get to tell you what to do without a very compelling reason to do it. Is there a very compelling reason for the liquor monopoly? No.
There are just two reasons this is even a contentious issue: money and good old-fashioned prudishness. A monopoly is a wonderful thing when you're the one who has it. And booze has always been a convenient club for the self-righteous to wield.
Some of you hate the idea. Fine. Don't drink. But a free society is based on the idea you don't get to tell your neighbour how to live until your neighbour actually infringes on how you want to live.