B.C. Beer Blog

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LDB Privatization: A Guide to Some Great Reporting

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by WanderingPaddy

Since February, when Liberal Finance Minister, Kevin Falcon, dropped the bomb that the provincial government was going to sell off the province’s two liquor distribution centres, and with them, the province’s warehouse distribution system, it seemed everyone associated with the local liquor industry has been voicing concerns about how this is going to impact the BC liquor landscape.

The Alliance of Beverage Licensees of BC (ABLE), who represent more than 1,000 pubs, bars and private liquors stores, has come out against the privatization. The BC Government Employees Union has come out against the privatization. The NDP has come out against the privatization, with NDP alcohol critic Shane Simpson stating in the BC Legislature, “The process is tainted.” CAMRA BC, on behalf of craft beer consumers, is about to officially come out against the privatization. Heck, even the mostly inert Craft Brewers Guild of BC have gotten in on the action and gone public with their displeasure at how this will negatively impact the province’s alcohol industry.

This sale is being fast-tracked, with the Request For Proposals (RFP) deadline coming up on June 29th. The government hopes to have this whole sale wrapped up and signed by March 2013.

The simple fact is that it looks like the Liberals are ramming through the sale – which is most likely is going to result in higher prices for alcohol consumers – without consulting those directly impacted or preparing any sort of business case on how this move will be advantageous to BC.

I wrote a post a while back highlighting the connections between Liberal insiders, our country’s large national breweries, and those vying to be the successful bidder. But there are more competent, connected journalists than myself shedding light on all the cloak-and-dagger, shady, back-room goings-on in regards to this process.

Probably the most comprehensive and in-depth coverage I have found is provided by Bob Mackin on his 2010 Gold Rush blog with his  #LiquorLeaks series of posts. The whole incestuous, sordid, complicated mess is being laid out for all to see. If you have any interest in how this move by the Liberals is shaping up, I would give Mackin’s blog a read. He has gained access to many sensitive documents that really highlight how this privatization process may rival the B.C. Rail scandal. In fact, it has many of the same players.

The Province newspaper columnist, Michael Smyth, has also written quite a bit on the subject. He reported that cabinet minister, and the man ultimately responsible for the LDB, Rich Coleman, cannot guarantee consumer prices would not rise with privatization. In another column, Smyth also highlighted how the Liberals have even stooped to 1950s McCarthy-style “red baiting” in an attempt to discredit the NDP, deflecting attention away from the facts.

I know I am not really enlightening anyone with new information here, but I wanted to point those who are interested towards some informative sources and resources. I hope you take the time to read through the material, especially Mackin’s posts, and voice your concerns to Rich Coleman and LCLB General Manager, Karen Ayers.

~ originally published on the VanEast Beer Blog on June 27, 2012.

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