C.D. Howe tells Ontario how.

Clarence Decatur Howe, minister of everything important in the Mackenzie King government, was never one our favourite Liberal role models but we always gave him the credit for creating Trans-Canada Airlines (now Air Canada) and for the amazing effort he put into Canada’s war materiel production in the Second World War as well as the remarkably quick switch to reconstruction after the war. The C.D. Howe Institute named for him is a right-wing think tank with much more credibility than the Fraser Institute. It means when the C.D. Howe Institute tells you how you can make money, you best listen.

And the C.D. Howe Institute gave some very good advice to Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa last week and he had better listen up. The institute told Charles the same thing we have been telling him, repeatedly, over the past year. If he chooses not to listen to Babel-on-the-Bay, that is his problem. If he chooses not to listen to the C.D. Howe Institute, then the Wynne government has a problem with him.

What the institute said very simply was that “The lack of competition in Ontario’s system for alcoholic beverages causes higher prices for consumers and foregone government revenue.” You can deny the logic of that when it comes from someone who merely understands retail merchandising but now the capitalists and economists are on board.

But you can bet the government will fight back. These paternalistic political Neanderthals in Ontario think that they are doing something socially responsible. They actually pour profits into the pockets of foreign-owned beer companies by setting the minimum prices for selling beer in Ontario. The Beer Store operates the worst, inconvenient and most regressive system of retailing in this province and the government stupidly takes pride in screwing the consumer.

What the government fails to understand is that they would create more jobs, reduce binge drinking and earn more in taxes with beer being distributed through convenience and other food stores. The vertical integration of the majority of beer sales in Ontario is not just an impediment for the consumer but a choke on government tax earnings.

And as much as the politicians will rally around the LCBO ‘model,’ it is a failure in multi-billion dollar proportions. It is a lasting tribute to the ignorance of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) of 100 years ago and the politicians who allowed the WCTU’s foolishness.

The effective transitioning of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario to private hands would produce billions in found revenue to the province as well as assure the continued growth of annual revenue from the sales. And when the C.D. Howe Institute tells you can make more money from something, you know you can take it to the bank.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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