It’s a Wynne-Wynne for wine in Ontario.

It was like a fanfare of trumpets and drums for the announcement of the coming of some decent wine to Ontario grocery stores. Not immediately and not all at once and with a myriad of confusing rules but foreign and domestic wine will be available in some grocery stores this fall and more in the years to come. It is not as big a deal as it is touted but it is going to be milked for all the publicity the politicians can get.

And would you believe letters-to-the-editor decrying the greater availability of demon alcohol. It is almost as though they were written in the premier’s office to try to show that she is progressive.

She is not. All this progressive stuff is coming from a banker she asked to guide her through the shoals of Ontario politics. Like most bankers, he writes liberal headlines and conservative small print.

It is like Ontario VQA (Ontario wine that meets some standards) will be the only wine sold in about half the currently anointed grocery stores. You can be kind and call most of the stuff sold in the store kiosks today as ‘plonk.’ The plonk is to be moved to those stores’ food shelves instead of being in a separate kiosk. You can be assured though that people who like wines will still not drink it. It will take another five years for the favoured of the larger grocery stores to be selling beer and both foreign and domestic wines as routine.

And that is what it should have been from day one. This incremental expansion of distribution is an outrageously blatant grab at publicity, licence fees and political donations. Nobody involved seems to give a damn about the public.

This same attitude that the public does not matter is prevalent throughout the beer market in Ontario. The other day talking to a Beer Store employee, the question was asked “Why is my brand never in the same place week-to-week in your walk-in cooler?” The simple answer was that different brands are shipped at different times and they put the new stock where there is space. This is not merchandising; this is uncaring.

And that is why we should never allow politicians (or their favourite banker) to make decisions about any commodity. We are the people who choose the politicians. And we are the people who should choose where we want to buy the products we use and consume. We might need to start with more enlightened politicians.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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