Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bullying private wine stores

  • Print

Touted as a modernization of Manitoba liquor laws, the move by the Selinger government to open MLCC outlets at urban grocery stores is the gambit of a bully to cut into a small, successful market of private wine boutiques. This move, at an opportune time in an election year, tightens the grasp of the nanny-state liquor regulation and marketing in this province.

Some provinces have seen the logic of allowing private operators to enter the booze business -- wine and beer are on the shelves in Quebec grocery stores and Alberta privatized sales of alcohol in 1993. Neither province has fallen into rack and ruin as a result. Many in Manitoba have hoped the government would find its way, finally, into the 21st century, in step with Europe's liberalized sales of beer, wine and spirits. Instead, these amendments to the Liquor Control Act are retrograde, hostile to free enterprise and insulting to an intelligent citizenry. A relative few Manitobans who shop at the five grocery stores that win the lottery as the MLCC moves in next to the bread and cheese section will benefit.

The hostility goes beyond enlarging MLCC's assets. MLCC outlets will start to market merchandise, capitalizing on the very niche of the market private wine stores have carved out -- products such as bar ware, gift boxes and magazines. Premier Greg Selinger stressed Thursday that it was time to make alcohol purchases part of healthy food and dining decisions of Manitobans, precisely the marketing pitch of the private wine market.

The move was part of a series of legislative changes that will expand the hours alcohol can be sold at socials and the Sunday hours for bars and cabarets. More liquor inspectors will prowl the downtown, and fines for disorderly conduct and supplying alcohol to minors will rise steeply.

When the real agenda is laid bare, there is no liberalization here, no move to modern social norms. It is a blatant grab of more power and revenue for the monopolistic importer, distributor and chief salesman of alcohol in Manitoba. Having lost a court challenge -- settling out of court with private operators in 2004 -- the MLCC, operating as regulator and competitor in the wine market, and the government regrouped and hammered out a strategy to chip into the sales of the upstarts.

A modern government would have loosened the chains a little and trusted a sophisticated population with the freedom to buy booze at the corner store, restricting sales licences to retailers that respect the rules. More discouraging is the fact that the Selinger government refuses still to acknowledge the inherent abuse and conflict of maintaining an agency to be sole distributor, to regulate and compete with a handful of private, innovative entrepreneurs, businesses that have fought for scraps in a suffocatingly controlled market and flourished.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 20, 2011 A14

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Doug Speirs auditions for 14th Annual Big Daddy Tazz and Friends

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • STDUP ‚Äì Beautiful West End  begins it's summer of bloom with boulevard s, front yards  and even back lane gardens ,  coming alive with flowers , daisies and poppies  dress up a backyard lane on Camden St near Wolseley Ave  KEN GIGLIOTTI  / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  /  June 26 2012
  • Goslings with some size head for cover Wednesday afternoon on Commerce Drive in Tuxedo Business Park - See Bryksa 30 Goose Challenge- Day 12- May 16, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Is the weak loonie influencing your travel plans?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google