BC Liquor Policy Review: Some Great Submissions

The BC Government's Liquor Policy Review is nearing the end of its initial consultation stage (only 3 weeks left), following which the Parliamentary Secretary responsible, John Yap, will prepare a report to the responsible Minister (Suzanne Anton) with recommendations for change. Thus far, the review panel has met with many stakeholder groups (see stakeholder meeting list here), received many submissions (see submissions list here) and received a huge amount of public input and comment via blog post, email and social media. Anyone intending to provide additional input should do so right away!

As would be expected in any review process such as this, the review panel has received a wide range of submissions covering off many different viewpoints and dealing with many different issues. The full list of submissions can be reviewed using the link above. However, I would like to highlight a few submissions which I think are particularly useful: Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (this well researched submission deals with reform of BC's wholesale pricing structure and with important distribution issues), BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association (deals with many licensing issues), Herb LeRoy Honourary Wine Envoy (deals with many issues of wineries), Liquor Policy Consultants - Dennis Coates and Bert Hick (deals with many issues from the perspective of two very knowledgeable consultants), and Victoria Police Department (deals with the problematic special occasion licensing system).

Finally, I must also recommend the submissions of Modernize Wine Association of BC (of which I am President) which deal with a wide range of issues including some of those covered by other groups above. If you would like a short summary of the Modernize Wine position, you can also read this op-ed piece from the Vancouver Sun written by John Skinner of Painted Rock Winery and myself: 5 Ways to Reform BC's Antiquated Liquor Laws

BC Liquor Policy Review in Full Stride

The BC Government's liquor policy review is now firing on all cylinders. The official web site, asking for public comment, launched this past weekend. In addition, the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the review, John Yap, has been doing extensive media interviews and is very active on social media, promoting the review and asking British Columbians for input. The purpose of the policy review is to ask stakeholders and the general public for their input on modernizing BC's liquor laws. The review has been attracting a great deal of positive media coverage: see BC Govt Launches New Website to Attract Public Opinion on Changing Liquor Laws, BC Launches Liquor Policy Review Website, BC Liquor Policy Review Website to Launch, and BC Taking Public Input on Changing Liquor Laws. If you care about modernizing BC's liquor laws, please take the time to submit your opinion on the site ...

BC Appoints New GM for Liquor Licensing Branch

The BC Government has appointed a new General Manager of the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, effective September 23rd. The new GM will be Doug Scott who was previously Assistant Deputy Minister of the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch. An e-mail announcement indicates that previously "he enjoyed a 20 year career with the RCMP where Doug was responsible for several significant change initiatives.  His skill in leading strategic change will be a key asset to government as decisions about liquor reform are made and implementation begins." In addition, the email notes that Mr. Scott has a "Master in Public Administration degree from Harvard University and a Master of Business Administration from Queen’s University". Mr. Scott succeeds Karen Ayers, the previous general manager, who retired at the end of June.

Ontario Premier's Anti-Consumer Wine Stance

Ontario's lack of support for interprovincial wine shipping has hit the news recently due to Premier Kathleen Wynne's apparent adoption of an LCBO scripted anti-consumer position regarding interprovincial wine shipping. I have posted an analysis here on my companion site, LiquorPolicy.com. In addition, the Premier's stance has been roundly criticized by multiple news media reports including the following: Provinces Stomp on Consumers Ability to Buy Canadian Wine (Vancouver Sun op/ed); Ontario Won't Loosen Up Wine Importing Laws (Globe and Mail); Inaction on Ontario Wine (Toronto Sun); Who Wants to Limit Your Choice of Wine (National Post) and Open Borders for Wine Urged (Winnipeg Free Press). Hopefully, Premier Wynne will take note of the waves of protest and adopt a pro-consumer position sooner rather than later. After all, Ontario wine consumers are also voters ... and it looks like the next election in Ontario will be a close one.

BC's New Wine Industry Premier

Yesterday, BC's Premier, Christy Clark, handily won the by-election in the riding of Westside Kelowna making her the first BC Premier in decades to represent a wine industry riding. Westside Kelowna is home to many wineries including some of BC's most successful ones. Indeed, the previous MLA (who stepped down for Clark) was Ben Stewart whose family owns Quails Gate winery which is located in the riding. The election win is a good sign for the BC wine industry because wine industry issues will now be at the heart of the Premier's constituency. Indeed, it may well be that Clark is now the province's first real "Wine Industry Premier". The last BC Premier to hail from the Okanagan was Bill Bennett but his reign as provincial leader ended prior to the tremendous growth and expansion of the Okanagan wine industry which occurred following the inception of NAFTA in 1989. Premier Clark has already announced an overhaul of BC liquor laws (see New BC Govt Commits to Liquor Law Review) which is being led by Suzanne Anton, the new Minister of Justice, and John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform. In addition, the government has appointed Herb LeRoy as BC's Honorary Wine Envoy tasked with rallying support for interprovincial wine shipping.