It’s Bullshit over Beer in Ontario.

The international owners of Labatt, Molson and Sleeman breweries have to be sleeping on the job. The Ontario government is seriously planning to expand their business for them and they are talking about suing the government. If I was the judge for that case, I would laugh the idiots out of my court.

What the government is proposing is that beer and wine sales in Ontario be expanded through convenience stores, grocery stores and big box stores. You can think of it as the peasants in Ontario being freed to buy their beer where it is convenient for them instead of where the Brewers’ Warehousing Beer Stores find it convenient to sell beer.

And besides, serving a market of 13 million people takes more that 450 beer stores, 660 liquor control board stores, 150 large grocery stores and some agencies in out of the way parts of the province. Even with another 300 grocery stores to be added, that is not enough distribution to meet the market need.

For comparison, Quebec has most of its 8000 convenience stores selling beer to a population of 8 million and Alberta has close to 2000 privately owned alcohol outlets and many hotels with off-premises sales, selling suds to 4.3 million. There is no question but there is a need in Ontario for a greatly expanded retailing of beer and wine.

Some skeptics of the government plan point to a specious agreement signed five years ago by a banker on behalf of the province. In the agreement the brewers promised to spend $100 million per year for four years to upgrade stores and build some new ones. What does not make sense of this is that it is a normal cost of doing business in a business worth many billions. New stores need to be built in growing communities and many of the ill-kept Beer Store properties in Ontario desperately need repair and improvements. Why would this be subject to litigation?

Frankly, Ontario has colluded with and coddled the foreign brewers for long enough. After 90 years of unconscionable profits for the breweries own delivery system, they can no longer expect a monopoly. They can make a lot more money with the expanded distribution of their products. If they do not like what the government is doing, they should remember that it is the government that calls the shots.

A rule of international trade is ‘Never piss off the local politicians.’

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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