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Why doesn't the government have its own shoe stores as well?
December 10, 2009 2:13 AM   Subscribe

Have you ever wondered why you can't get what you want, but, if you try sometimes, etc.? Mark Hicken, a British Colombian lawyer, is a great source of information on the state(s) of Canadian liquor regulations. Sure, a little localised and dry, but that's the terroir, man. Also, he does point out some inanities that have a relatively universal appeal.
posted by converge (27 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sorry to be a pedant, but it's ColUmbia, no? Unless Mr Hicken has dual British-Colombian nationality.
posted by jonesor at 3:12 AM on December 10, 2009


Hard to muster up much outrage over this, as I live in one of the most alcohol restrictive states in the US.
posted by fixedgear at 3:16 AM on December 10, 2009


Why doesn't the government have its own shoe stores as well?

These more recent bailout plans seem more and more far-fetched.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:35 AM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow. Someone else rides my hobby horse.

Most Ontarians basically don't care. As long as the Beer Store has Blue and Canadian and they can pick up Canadian Club at the LCBO, *shrug*. It drives me insane. A classic bit of Canuckistani Stalinism.

What are they afraid of? That likkered up Ontarians will storm the barricades?
posted by unSane at 4:57 AM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Most Ontarians don't realize that The Beer Store is a non-government retail operation owned by three foreign breweries (inbev, Sapporo and Coors) and that although the LCBO is one of the largest alcohol buyers in the world the red tape frustrates many suppliers and is constantly put to shame by the selection available in Michigan and New York. There are great beers from the neighbouring province of Quebec that show up in the states long before Ontario.
posted by phirleh at 7:11 AM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


...and, as the "inanities" link shows, in Ontario, it's easier to get wine from Chile that it is from BC. The LCBO and the SAQ are both blessings, huge buying power, and horrible curses to central Canadian oenophiles.
posted by bonehead at 7:47 AM on December 10, 2009


...and, as the "inanities" link shows, in Ontario, it's easier to get wine from Chile that it is from BC.
posted by bonehead


Uhhh, consider that a benefit of the inefficient government monopoly. As a BC resident, believe me, you're missing very little.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:21 AM on December 10, 2009


Hard to muster up much outrage over this

Same here until a year ago when I wanted to buy some grain alcohol for a photographic process then, it became an infuriating nightmare (it was the one chemical that was holding me back). Legal to buy in BC, but no one stocks it. Whereas, in places like Alberta and Ontario, it's as close as searching a liquor board web site and, choosing a location.

Some of it hinges around shipping. I know Californians who can't buy it locally, but can buy it online and, have it shipped to them. I can't do that here.
posted by squeak at 8:22 AM on December 10, 2009


I grew up in BC so I didn't really know any better, but just after turning legal age, I moved to Quebec, where you can buy beer at any corner store. And that was good. (They also sell wine, but it has to be "blended" in Quebec, so it's mostly crap.) Then I moved to England where you can find a great selection of any alcohol just about anywhere. And that was great. And finally I'm now in Ontario... where the situation is frustrating to say the least.

I agree though, that Ontarians largely don't give a damn. The government-run LCBO and the privately-run Beer Store are just good enough that people don't feel that inconvenienced -- after all, most people drink crappy beer and buy cheap wine, and the LCBO and Beer Store provide plenty of both. The LCBO's prices are also competitive compared to the rest of Canada, but if you want something they don't carry: sorry, forget it. The Beer Store is a total conspiracy, but they get away with it by being responsible for running the bottle/can recycling program.

I really don't understand though why Ontario and BC aren't interested in selling their locally-made wines to the rest of the country -- both provinces make good wine, but it's almost impossible to find BC wine in Ontario and vice versa because of the silly interprovincial liquor restrictions. To the BC resident above: there are lots of good BC wines: they're just not easy to find at BC liquor stores. The same is true in Ontario: the LCBO won't carry many wines from smaller Ontario producers because the quantity produced is too small for them to care. For good BC and Ontario wines, either visit the wineries or check a nice restaurant's wine list.
posted by attaboy at 8:33 AM on December 10, 2009


Uhhh, consider that a benefit of the inefficient government monopoly. As a BC resident, believe me, you're missing very little.

Oh, bullshit. Okanagan wines have been winning international awards for ages. Some of the world's best wines are coming from Okanagan wineries.

I notice that in our shift from government-run liquor stores to private stores, we've seen a cost increase. The same happened in Alberta; in fact, it's cheaper to buy booze in BC than Alberta these days, which is a complete about-face for us.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:59 AM on December 10, 2009


I wonder how much of this would be legal in the US.
posted by grobstein at 9:02 AM on December 10, 2009


I guess I've been in Ontario long enough to claim to be Ontarian. I don't give a damn.

But then I guess I'm more interested in tracking down every esoteric beer than every possible wine. The LCBO has more wines than I want to taste. Granted, half of them are rubbish. But maybe that's the difference. I want to try every beer, regardless. And I'm not sure private stores would bother carrying that off any better than what the Beer Store + beer delivery start-ups + LCBO can manage in combination.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:48 AM on December 10, 2009


Yeah, back when I lived in Ontario this whole thing was basically a big "meh" for me. Yeah, you can't buy beer Sunday at midnight so you have to get somewhat organized. Yeah, you can't get Boreal Blonde. Yeah there's a bunch of weird boutique liquors that they don't import. Still, meh. It's not like I'm down at BevMo every day at lunch buying magnums of champagne now that I've shed the yoke of Ontario fascism.
posted by GuyZero at 10:26 AM on December 10, 2009


" Hard to muster up much outrage over this, as I live in one of the most alcohol restrictive states in the US."

Ya but this is Canada, when it comes to beer things are supposed to be better.
posted by Mitheral at 10:26 AM on December 10, 2009


I hate and despise our liquor laws. Realize at 6pm on Sunday you need a bottle of wine for the unexpected friend coming for dinner? You're fucked.

If you're into wine, and you have the money, there are some very good (and legal) private importers. If you want a contact, MeMail me--I won't post it here for obvious reasons.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:33 AM on December 10, 2009


Seriously dnab? You don't just keep a couple bottles on hand all the time? I don't even like wine but I always had a couple bottles of something adequate stashed away if I needed a hostess gift or if the mood struck me.
posted by GuyZero at 10:36 AM on December 10, 2009


I've been a brokeass student followed by brokeass chef for a year, (and probably about to be brokeass student again, pastry training) so no, nothing has been kept on hand:P
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:43 AM on December 10, 2009


five fresh fish: Um, no offense intended, but: bullshit on both points, particularly the latter. I've worked very closely with the liquor industry in both BC and Alberta over the last decade.

It is not cheaper to buy liquor in BC that Alberta, by any stretch. Also, many private stores price match the government or sell cheaper than. The higher priced ones are caused by the BC government's so far silly plan of selling to the private stores at a 16% discount from their own stores' retail price, meaning the smaller private ones must sell at higher prices to make a go. More competitive ones will drop below government retail to bring people in. And, no, prices did not go up in Alberta after "privatisation" (a loosely used word - the industry is still very much government controlled on a distribution level).

As far as BC wines go, well, let's just say you don't always get fair value. Many regions win many awards. BFD.
posted by converge at 10:46 AM on December 10, 2009


Durn Bronzefist: I don't give a damn.

Do you care that you pay more for wine because of the LCBO? Because you do, not just because of the taxes. LCBO is an enormously profitable monopoly, ergo, prices are higher than they could be.
posted by bonehead at 10:50 AM on December 10, 2009


Do you care that you pay more for wine because of the LCBO?

As a non-wine drinker of course I don't care. People on the right are always crowing about making government run more like a business so hell, yeah, the LCBO generates a huge profit, funds/subsidizes recycling throughout the province (which is a BFD in Toronto who pays for every gram of trash to get trucked to Michigan) and it beats more income or sales taxes. Besides, from a social perspective slightly higher alcohol prices are desirable as it marginally suppresses consumption without going to far as to encourage smuggling (like with cigarettes).

Ontario wine, beer and liquor drinkers get 90%+ of what they need at the Beer Store and LCBO. And the vast majority of drinkers consider most forms of alcohol fungible goods so selection is a moot point. For the rest, geez, it's not like it's such a trial to leave the province once in a while if you looove BC wine so much.
posted by GuyZero at 10:57 AM on December 10, 2009




Oh, bullshit. Okanagan wines have been winning international awards for ages. Some of the world's best wines are coming from Okanagan wineries...


posted by five fresh fish
.

It sounds like you've drank the BC Tourism kool-aid my friend. You certainly haven't drank much BC wine or you wouldn't say that. Wine awards are the elementary school sports day of competition, anyone and everyone can and does win. The only thing easier to win than a wine competition is a 5% discount scratch and win card at The Bay.

First, good BC wines aren't made in commercially viable quantities. Which renders them basically hobbyist pursuits masquerading as commercial enterprise. If fifty cases of something gets made, and is not available at retail anywhere, public or private, does it really exist? I say no. Second, the price/quality ratio is so far out of whack with BC wines (esp. reds) that drinking them is a pursuit for fools and the delusional.
posted by Keith Talent at 11:17 AM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do you care that you pay more for wine because of the LCBO?

Everything is relative. My parents (born in the 30's) feel that $1 for a dozen eggs is too damn much. From their perspective, I guess it is. From my perspective, that's a lot of food value there for $1 (or $2, or $3. We buy free-range and, uh, don't discuss it with my parents).

My unscientific observations while living in B.C. and flying in to Ontario for regular visits (prior to moving here) was that the average bottle of local wine was a good deal cheaper in Ontario. This might be for various reasons, but my perspective is again, good value. I recently ran through as many bottles of "The 10 Best wines for $10" I could find in the stores -- not because they were $10 but because they were supposed to be good and here was this list. There were definitely a few winners there. What's that $10 bottle going to cost me in your non-monopolized vision? $9.50?

I don't give a damn.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:34 AM on December 10, 2009


It is not cheaper to buy liquor in BC that Alberta, by any stretch.

The several young adults (kids) attending college in Alberta say they are pissed that hard liquor in Alberta is priced higher than in BC. That data point is effective as of September 2009. I'ma say they're probably telling me the truth.

I have no problem finding good BC wine in the local liquor store, Keith. Now maybe that's because I live in the Okanagan, and so we're particularly well-sourced, or maybe it's because I'm dumb enough to pay $20 for a good bottle, but either way, I'm drinking what I consider to be good wine. I'm no oenophile, but I know what I like and don't like.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:33 PM on December 10, 2009


I wonder if this is why I can't find Glenfiddich Solera blend scotch in Ontario...
posted by Decimask at 6:42 PM on December 10, 2009


Some scotches aren't available in Canada anymore because worldwide demand is up and the distributors can get more for them in other markets.
posted by Mitheral at 8:04 PM on December 10, 2009


I just moved to a new neighbourhood in Vancouver and since it's my birthday I bought 2 tall boys of Pilsner Urquell at a private shop. I was nearly floored by the price--$4.45 per freaking can!!! Anyways, this was the 2nd shop I checked out since moving because earlier in the week I bought a 6-pack from the one on the end of my block for my buddy who helped me move...SIXTEEN DOLLARS! Gimme the commie-stalinist-whatever-the-hell-you-want-to-call-it LCBO any day of the week. I used to be able to buy a 650ml bottle of Staropramen for 3 dollars in Ottawa. Best god-damned beer ever to come out of a bottle, I tell ya.

(Yeah I know--it's crap compared to other Czech beers but somehow it's the only one that tastes just like it does on tap)
posted by Hoopo at 9:40 PM on December 10, 2009


The several young adults (kids) attending college in Alberta say they are pissed that hard liquor in Alberta is priced higher than in BC. That data point is effective as of September 2009.

Heh. That's not a data point, man. That's your kids wanting some more money. And untrue.

Nevertheless, I wanted to point out the ridiculousness of Canadian liquor laws across the board. Why does BC list, like, seven Ontario wines and vice versa? Why does the Beer Store exist in Ontario? Etc.

Hoopo: in Vancouver proper, sorry man, you're screwed. The local market is heavily regulated by the city and private stores are only granted to those with some amazing connections. They generally charge through the nose. However, if you're willing to drive to Burnaby, PoCo, or Surrey, you can find many stores selling cheaper than the government.
posted by converge at 10:59 PM on December 10, 2009


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