A flurry of news reports this morning all challenge Canada's outdated wine laws and related liquor board policies.
The Globe & Mail has two articles. The first (In the Vineyard, fermenting dissent by Rita Trichur) chronicles the struggles of Ontario's small quality producers to get reasonable access to the monopoly controlled distribution system within their own province. This is a timely article because, while British Columbia does provide somewhat better access for its wineries, it highlights the wineries' discontent with a provincial government that appears to prefer using short term subsidies to support its wine industry rather than providing a better long term solution through a restructuring of the LCBO controlled distribution system. The second Globe article is by Tony Wilson (Hand liquor sales to small business). It describes the waste of taxpayer dollars that occurs when liquor boards implement minimum product pricing under the guise of controlling social behaviour. I have commented on this short-sighted policy before: all it does is provide suppliers with windfall profits at the expense of consumers. It's an easy way for bureaucrats to increase liquor board revenue but it is not intelligent policy. Both these stories raise the broader issue: why are Canada's provincial governments still wasting taxpayer dollars on government liquor retail when they are scrambling to fund health care and education? Liquor retail is simply not a core government service. Canadian taxpayers, and wine consumers, should be be concerned about this ongoing issue.
CTV also has a report on Terry David Mulligan's previously announced quest to challenge Canada's outdated interprovincial shipping restrictions: Outlaw Terry David Mulligan Plans Illegal Road Trip. Apparently, the convoy of "illegal" wine shipment is now planned for May 13th (that's a Friday ... is TDM tempting fate?). Terry's plans were also reported in this Vancouver Province news story: Mulligan set to take 'wine bullies' to task.