COLUMN: Let’s add to the ‘convenience’ of corner stores

The province of Ontario ... may soon allow the sale of beer, wine and spirits in grocery and corner stores.

The province of Ontario, if the political winds of change occur, may soon allow the sale of beer, wine and spirits in grocery and corner stores.

For this to occur, the Ontario Liberals, about to enter a leadership contest to determine a successor to soon-to-be departing Dalton McGuinty, must not only choose a new leader, but prepare for battle against the rival and rising PCs, whose leader is advocating a major relaxation of liquor laws in Canada’s most populous province.

The prospect of this in Ontario raises the issue of British Columbia adopting a similar practice. It has often been proposed here, with good cause I might add, because of the convenience and it being something “whose time has come.”

There is, of course, the hand-wringing of ‘nervous Nellies’ who suggest wanton alcoholism among children, husbands spending their entire pay cheque on booze at the 7-11, and an easy and unnecessary temptation for recovering alcoholics.

Sorry, but that scenario has no foundation. We already have beer and wine and private liquor stores in most every neighbourhood, and wineries with tasting rooms and sales counters scattered throughout the province.

If we already have them, why not expand such sales to grocery and other stores, and make the purchase of alcohol truly convenient? Certainly those who own private liquor outlets will challenge any move towards this, as it would definitely take the profit out of their business operations.

But wider sale of alcohol will not corrupt our society any further than it already does.

Why would it be so shattering to our social mores to able to run into the local market to grab a bottle of wine or liquor, or if they don’t have exactly what you want, checking out the gas station next door, or the one across the street rather than having to drive all over town to find a government or private liquor store?

The destruction of society isn’t happening in Washington or most other states, and it isn’t happening in the Fraser Valley either, because you can buy liquor at a corner store and gas stations right here on the edge of Abbotsford.

The little community of Yarrow has not one, but three liquor agencies, one in the grocery, and two in neighbouring gas bars. I don’t see young kids falling down drunk in the community park, and I don’t see the residents of Yarrow awash in alcoholism.

What they have, at government liquor store prices, is convenience – the convenience of adding to your grocery or gas purchase rather than being required to drive into Abbotsford or Chilliwack to buy a bottle of wine or whiskey.

So if it’s good for that little village, founded by the way on the strict religious tenets of the Mennonite faith, the proponents of whom are probably now rolling over in their graves, why shouldn’t it be “good” for the rest of us to have the same simplicity of convenience?

Are grocery store operators any more or less inclined to check the ID of minors than are those who work in the existing private liquor stores? No, particularly if there is a law accompanying the relaxation of sales that says one offence and you lose the right to sell booze forever.

If it can work, and it does, in a suburb of Abbotsford, and in little communities throughout the province that are not close to a government liquor store, then why shouldn’t it work, and be available, everywhere?

markrushton@abbynews.com

 

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