Ontario corner stores petition for right to sell alcohol

Ontario corner stores are pushing for the ability to sell alcohol, a practice that is already legal in Quebec.

Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA), believes that agency stores work well. He said convenience stores would require SmartServe certifications from all their employees and would not sell to anyone without photo ID. Stores would ask the Alcohol Gaming Commission to regulate their alcohol sales.

Two Mac's stores in Thamesford and Craigleith already sell alcohol as agency stores.

University of Waterloo student Matt Cocca was open to the idea, saying that “lots of places do it, so it must be working.”

Another UW student, Vanessa Robinson, said, “I don’t think it’ll change much, I mean people are pretty resourceful … if students want to drink, they’ll find a way.”

The Beer Store, which is privately owned by Labatt Brewing Company, Molson Coors Brewing Company, and Sleeman Breweries (Sapporo), has launched a campaign against the OCSA in an attempt to turn Ontario residents against the proposition.

The Beer Store claimed that convenience stores will not regulate the drinking age as strictly as required by OCSA — it said studies have shown this to be untrue and in fact it is less frequent in convenience stores. Ted Moroz, president of the Beer Store, warned Ontario residents that prices of beer and liquor will rise if alcohol sales are deregulated.

According to Bryans however, Quebec is proof that corner stores can safely sell alcohol.

The OCSA is fighting back against these so-called “fear-mongering” ads being put forward by the Beer Store. According to Bryans, Ontarians are not impressed with the Beer Store’s tactics as it tries to protect its market monopoly.

However, some community groups have rallied behind the message that is being spread by the Beer Store.

Executive director of Arrive Alive Drive Sober, Anne Leonard, spoke out against the OCSA’s petition, saying that having alcohol in corner stores will provide too many opportunities for people to buy alcohol, and will have little control over the sale. Arrive Alive Drive Sober lists The Beer Store as a ‘Diamond’ sponsor.

The Conservative Party of Canada is in favour of keeping alcohol in liquor stores, butthey are opposed by the Liberals and the NDP.

The Ontario Liberals are currently moving forward with their plan to allow the selling of liquor in grocery stores. The government is currently accepting applications from grocery stores that wish to introduce LCBO Express kiosks into their stores.

According to Bryans, the OCSA plans to continue their campaign: “It’s time the foreign-owned Beer Store had a little home-grown competition,” he said.


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