Straight Up: The Issue of Alcohol in Ontario

Straight Up: The Issue of Alcohol in Ontario is all about the ridiculousness of how alcohol is sold in the province of Ontario. It talks about the history of how the LCBO (government owned) and The Beer Store (owned by three private multinational breweries) began, and how smaller producers of beer and wine in this province are at a huge disadvantage. Also, of note, is the select few ‘wine stores’ that are also limited to a handful of owners.

It generally shoots down many of the arguments that are used to defend the ‘controlled’ environment that alcohol is sold in, in Ontario:

  • More availability = more consumption problems (then why has the LCBO and The Beer Store expanded greatly of late? Why are stores becoming larger, with more attractive environments? Why does the LCBO promote extensively — from advertising to free high-gloss colour magazines?)
  • The need to control who has access (can a group that has been trusted for years to keep tobacco and lottery tickets out of the hands of youth not be trusted with alcohol sales?)

Discussed are listing fees that craft breweries (ok, all breweries) have to pay to get listed in The Beer Store. It talks of how Ontario wineries have more wines listed in certain jurisdictions across the world than they can get listed in the LCBO.

Overall, it’s fairly – um – boring and lacking of any typical documentary-style flair, but it’s fairly insightful. Why it has to be an hour and 15 minutes in length for an online documentary boggles my mind.

There’s a totally unnecessary bit of footage of security guards hauling down a guy in an LCBO store — umm, totally not related but adding to the LCBO pile-on, I suppose.

One thing I will say, however (and somewhat mentioned in the documentary), is that if beer one day does get sold in Ontario convenience stores, most will stock the “big” beers – as they’re more likely to sell to the average consumer. However, in my opinion, there’s a huge opening for the few convenience stores that make the effort to stock more ‘exotic’ craft beers. Imagine being a destination convenience store, because you’re the one in the city stocking brandX craft beer (‘beer nerds’ seek out certain LCBOs for this very reason – as not all the same beers are sold at each LCBO).

I can’t embed the documentary, unfortunately, but you can watch it riiiiiiight here… or skip the doc and enjoy this:

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