A week and a bit ago I speculated a bit about what I think might be the “new normal“ as we reopen our economy after the novel-coronavirus pandemic. I suggested “the alcohol retail business will also change. If people can get a new computer or a pair of shoes online, delivered to their door in a day or two, then why can they not order a case of beer or a bottle of liquor for home delivery and have it there in an hour if not, as with pizza, 30 minutes?“
I also noticed this, online …
… I must admit that I’m a pretty regular patron at my local Royal Oak: it’s less than two blocks from my home, I like their house-brand beer (Fuller’s London Pride), the food is (reliably) pretty good and the staff is always great.
Then, while out walking, yesterday, I saw this sign at another nice pub not too far from my home where I can affirm that the beer is also very good:
The advert and the sign got me to thinking about the “new normal” during the pandemic and they make me wonder if Ontarians, indeed almost all Canadians (hors de Québec) will tolerate a return to alcohol sales measures that were put in place about 100 years ago at the behest of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union?
How is it, I wonder, that in Australia, for example, I can go into the local pub near my son’s home and, after a nice lunch and a couple of pints, I can buy a bottle of wine for dinner and some gin for the family liquor cabinet without having to go to a Stalinesque government liquor store ~ AKA the People’s Happiness Store here in Ontario ~ or to a separate monopolistic beer store? And, by the evidence of my own eyes, Australia is not falling apart due to social disintegration.
The hospitality industry has taken a HUGE hit during the pandemic and many pubs and restaurants are going to be looking for ways to recoup some of their losses. It might be exactly the right time for Premier Doug Ford’s government (Finance Minister Rod Phillips ⇒ is responsible for profitable sin in Ontario, which includes inter alia, the liquor control board, cannabis retailing and lotteries) to make some massive, wholesale changes to how alcohol is sold in Ontario. Canadian provinces might want to follow the leads of Alberta and Québec, but, in my opinion, New South Wales, in Australia gets it right.
This is not the biggest issue to come out of the pandemic, but if Doug Ford wants to ensure his re-election in 2022 this might be a good way to do it. Ontarians, I think, have no love for the foreign owners of the Beer Store, that would be the big three conglomerates Molson-Coors, Labatt (which owned by Anheuser-Busch) and Sleeman (owned by Japan’s Sapporo), nor for the union which runs the LCBO, and most people agree that the world, even Ontario, has changed since the 1920s.
A lot of things will be changed by the pandemic. Maybe alcohol sales in Canadians provinces should be amongst them.