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Liquor Privatization Issues

A number of issues related to liquor privatization are in the news this week:

WA Privatization Initiatives Under Attack: The two liquor privatization initiatives in Washington state are under attack from an unlikely coalition of emergency workers, churches and, most significantly, liquor wholesalers: see this comprehensive article from Wine Spectator. Initial poll numbers showed that one or both privatization initiatives might pass. More recent numbers show that support is foundering under a well financed attack from the wholesalers.

Private Liquor Stores in BC: this week\’s edition of Business in Vancouver lists the area\’s leading private liquor stores and has an article which reviews some of the challenges facing private retailers when they have to source all product from their biggest competitor, the BCLDB.

LCLB Policy Directive on Standalone LRS: A new policy directive from the LCLB (PD 10-05 Standalone requirements for licensee retail stores) was just issued which deals with the continued requirement that LRS stores must operate as \”standalone\” businesses and cannot be visibly associated with other businesses. The justification for these requirements is that \”government does not support licensee retail stores in premises located in or associated with any other business, with the exceptions of an LP, a licensed hotel (including associated FP), or LRS\”. This policy rationale is likely difficult to understand from a consumer\’s perspective – in reality, it is likely aimed at preventing supermarkets and big box businesses from operating liquor stores. However, it is also questionable from a legal perspective – commercial speech through signs and advertising is protected by the Charter of Rights. If an LRS was actually connected with a nearby business, I don\’t see how government can prevent it from saying so!

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