April 17, 2014

Premier Kathleen Wynne

Premier Wynne: It’s time for some adult supervision of The Beer Store

Dear Premier Wynne,

There’s a healthy debate ongoing in Ontario about modernizing our 87 year-old system of alcohol retailing.  That’s a good thing. Debate about public policy issues that are important to Ontarians should be welcomed. In this case, both sides have had the opportunity to discuss the issues and we know that 70% or more of Ontarians want to see reform.

But we’ve now seen The Beer Store, the foreign-owned legislated near-monopoly on beer sales that the Ontario government permits, running US-style attack campaign ads against Ontario businesses – ads that feature a fiction so detached from the reality of how the responsible community convenience store retailers operate, it’s laughable.  Refreshingly, Ontarians are seeing right through them and openly mocking these ads.

Clearly the foreign owners of The Beer Store, US-based Molson Coors, Belgian-based Anheuser-Busch, and Japanese-based Sapporo are worried about the risk of losing their near-monopoly on beer sales in Ontario.

The big issue here is the conduct of The Beer Store.  As Premier and the person ultimately responsible for the conduct of this legislated monopoly, are you comfortable with the way these brewers are using profits from Ontario beer drinkers to attack Ontario businesses?  We certainly hope not.  Debating the issues is one thing, but The Beer Store manufacturing falsehoods and using its deep pockets to spread them with massive television ad campaigns is another.

Ontario Convenience Stores Association members are responsible community retailers.  We are entrusted to sell more age restricted products than any other retailer – and do an excellent job of it.  Convenience stores employ 69,000 people in Ontario and we’re a $13 retail billion industry for the province. Convenience stores are also the largest partner of the Ontario government for the OLG, selling 75% of all lottery tickets in the province and returning billions in tax and gaming revenues to public coffers.

Healthy debate about the issues is something that should be encouraged.  The conduct of The Beer Store, a protected business that only operates because the Ontario government permits it to do so, is unseemly and it leaves a great many Ontarians asking the question “Where is the government’s adult supervision of The Beer Store?”


Dave Bryans, Ontario Convenience Stores Association