EDITORIAL: Yap’s argument has some holes

MLA wants to expand access to liquor sales but liquor outlets abound

It’s difficult to know what problem the provincial government is possibly trying to fix.

John Yap, who is reviewing B.C.’s liquor laws, is recommending that government allow grocery stores to sell alcohol.

“British Columbians lead busy lives and my final report makes several recommendations that will bring greater convenience to  citizens,” said Yap.

How time consuming is it actually to get a case of beer or bottle of wine? In Greater Vernon, alone, there are 12 private liquor stores, one government outlet and two gas stations with rural liquor sales.  Many of them are right next to grocery stores, so the argument can be made that the convenience is already there.

What Mr. Yap needs to realize is that when government expanded liquor sales beyond just government outlets years ago, businesspeople took a risk and made significant investments in their operations. They not only employ local residents, but they support community endeavours and pump millions upon millions of dollars into provincial coffers for health care, education and other programs.

By adding retail grocery into the mix, the revenue stream for private and government stores will be undermined.

Of course one can make the argument that this is how the free-enterprise system works and some private liquor store owners will benefit by selling their licenses to grocery retailers (there’s a cap on the total outlets allowed). Increased competition could also lower consumer prices.

But if Yap is pushing for a change in rules based simply on increased convenience, one has to wonder when he last went out and bought wine.

 

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