Ontario's Progress on Liquor Laws
By David Henderson
In Canada, a new Ontario provincial budget released last week proposes to loosen alcohol consumption rules in the province, including allowing licensed establishments to start serving alcohol at 9 a.m., legalizing tailgating, letting local governments set rules that would allow people to consume alcohol in public parks, and letting breweries, wineries, and distilleries serve more than mere samples. Other proposed changes include plans to allow convenience stores to sell beer and wine, legalizing happy hour advertisements, and postponing a new wine tax that was set to take effect this month.
This is from Baylen Linnekin, “Ontario’s Glacial Booze Reforms Aren’t Enough,” Reason, April 20.
It’s an excellent piece that’s better than the title. The part in the title about not being enough is, for believers in freedom, clearcut. The term “glacial,” though, is not quite accurate. For a province that has had such oppressive liquor laws for so long, these reforms are better than glacial.
Another good excerpt:
Ontario’s awful alcohol rules have consequences. Toronto is the province’s—and Canada’s—largest and most international city. But Toronto is also derided as boring. And when someone paints Toronto as un-fun, bad booze laws usually get the blame.
“To be fair, much of Toronto’s lameness comes from the fact the city happens to be located in Ontario,” wrote Benjamin Boles at blogTO in a great 2014 post that details the city’s and province’s rich history of terrible alcohol laws, including temperance laws that stayed on the books in Toronto into at least the late 1990s. “The province’s liquor laws are legendarily strict and often bizarre.”
It reminds me of an old joke people told in the 1970s when Toronto famously had strict Sunday-closing laws, not just for bars but also for a huge amount of retail. The joke: “Toronto is an old Indian word meaning ‘closed on Sunday.'”