May 24, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
The Manitoba government plans to update the province's liquor laws as part of legislation that will create a new liquor and lotteries act, but there's no evidence it will end its unnecessary and paternalistic domination of the business of importing and selling booze.
With the exception of beer stores and a few private wine boutiques that are heavily regulated, the province dominates the liquor business much the way it did since 1923, when the Liquor Control Commission was created. The rules have changed over the years, but not the nanny state's near monopoly.
Provinces such as Alberta and British Columbia, for example, liberalized their liquor regime years ago by allowing private stores to enter the field and provide the kind of service consumers want. Manitoba is opening a few government-operated stores in grocery stores in a move that merely tightens the government's grip and cuts into the business of private wine boutiques.
In Europe and many American states, the private liquor industry has flourished without a corresponding increase in drunkenness or decline in morality.
The changes Manitoba is planning will still require restaurants to maintain a food-to-alcohol sales ratio. Dave Chomiak, minister responsible for liquor and gambling, says such ratios have a social benefit, as if it is the government's responsibility to tell adults how to have a good time.
The uniformed, government liquor salesman is a hangover from the prohibition era and it should be phased out and confined to the history books. That would be something we could all drink to.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 26, 2013 A14