Dan Malleck, Associate Professor of Health Sciences at Brock, wrote a piece recently published in The Conversation about the history of Ontario’s liquor system.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is making good on his “buck a beer” campaign promise, is pledging to put beer and wine in corner stores and has just announced his intention to give distribution of cannabis to private retailers.
Supporters say it’s about freedom of trade and the right of individuals to manage their own consumption. It’s all very populist and sounds great, and certainly fewer restrictions are what a free market wants. But is it a good idea?
Most arguments about liberalizing Ontario’s liquor system fall back on the assertion that it is a “Prohibition-era” regime that needs fixing, is overly restrictive, (and comparable to stores in the former Soviet Union) and insulting to individuals who just want to have a nice intoxicated time.
The implication is simple: We know Prohibition didn’t work and we know the Soviet Union fell, so why do we have a system based upon those failures?
Yet these arguments have little basis in history. Before you dismantle a system, it’s a good idea to know why it was established in the first place.
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