William Watson: Why are we so terrible at liquor, beer and pot sales? Because it’s 2018!

Nothing drives a Canadian free-marketer to despair quicker than this country’s approach to the production and selling of beer, wine, liquor and now marijuana. And no, “Canadian free-marketer” is not yet a contradiction in terms, though we’re clearly an endangered species.

Does no one in Canada believe in competition? On these files, and you could add milk, chicken, cheese, eggs and even maple syrup, all our political parties are about control — a little more control, a little less control, but control. Couldn’t we have just one party that says that so long as they pay their taxes and comply with basic health and hygiene requirements, Canadians are free to produce, sell, transport across provincial lines, export, import and consume whatever amounts and kinds of these products they choose to? Why? Because it’s 2018!

It’s not 1917, when state control of everything began its catastrophically unsuccessful 74-year experiment in Russia, nor 1920, when the United States began an equally unsuccessful if less murderous 13-year prohibition on the sale of alcohol. We’re a mature democracy made up of mature, responsible, well-educated individuals. Canadian adults should be free to make production and consumption decisions all on their own without permission from their Daddy State.

Beer, including Ontario craft beers, are shown at a grocery store in Ottawa on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018.

Though it is 2018, the premier of our biggest province thinks it’s his job to set the price of beer. Like some Saudi sultan of suds, he’s offering free shelf space in his liquor stores and advertising in his tipple flyers to companies complying with his request. And he’s reducing the legislated minimum price for beer from $1.25 to $1. Good on him for at least being on the side of consumers, but why do we have a minimum price for beer in the first place? I lived in France for a year and a wide selection of quite tolerable wine was available at very low prices in grocery and many other stores and yet the French seemed to function perfectly well — albeit they spend more time than we do volubly debating philosophy. Are Ontarians less trustworthy than the French in making good decisions for themselves?

It’s true that in this year of 2018 our own October revolution will legalize the sale of marijuana, which is a step toward freedom of choice. But the crazy way we’re going about it shows what control freaks we Canadians have become. Summoning wisdom from some unidentified vasty deep, the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority has decided Saskatoon will have exactly seven marijuana outlets. Not one more, not one less. There will be 51 for the province as a whole, with most towns having exactly one. (So much for local retail competition!)

Applicants for licences had to fill out a long form — one compared it to instructions for a 1980s stereo system — and pay $1,000. A grand ain’t what it used to be: 1,500 people applied. Those whose forms satisfied regulators proceeded to a lottery. Lotteries are …read more

Source:: Nationalpost – News


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