B.C. Beer Blog

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BC Liquor Law Review: Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

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Almost anyone who enjoys having an alcoholic beverage in British Columbia will have a gripe or few about the legal restrictions on doing so. Well, now you have a chance to influence some changes the government will make to bring our laws more in line with the current social culture. Like Halley’s Comet, this opportunity does not come often. Don’t let this chance to have your views included pass. Saying your individual opinions don’t matter is lame. It’s not about you! It is the sum of the parts that matter, so make yourself part of the equation by October 31 for the collective impact to be greater.

So what should those changes be? It’s easy to leap right into the details, but I have to agree with Anthony Gismondi:

Modernizing B.C. liquor laws has to start with a philosophical change about how we interact with alcohol.

In many respects, I think we are already there, given the many parties that are pushing for change. The challenge is for the government to accept the broader cultural underpinning for these changes and approach this issue from that perspective, rather than reacting piecemeal to parochial lobbying, which is what led to the LDB warehouse privitization fiasco and special dispensations to the wine industry (BYOB, legal personal importation) that irritated beer and spirits folks.

On the other hand, let’s be realistic; don’t expect radical change. The government will want to be seen as balancing the interests of the private and public sectors with citizens and special interest groups, like MADD and CARBC. This means taking measured steps, not completely removing the shackles on liquor distribution, sales, and consumption. I can accept that as long as no group receives consideration out of proportion to the issues or interests they represent, and the government demonstrates they will follow an evolutionary path, rather than short-term tinkering.

On Tuesday, as President of CAMRA BC, I met with John Yap (Parliamentary Secretary to The Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Liquor Policy Reform and MLA for Richmond-Steveston), Ken Dawson (Cabinet Director with the Office of the Premier) and Suneil Karod (Executive Assistant in the Office of the Minister of the Ministry of Justice). Joining me to make a submission on behalf of BC’s beer consumers was Adam Chatburn, President of CAMRA Vancouver, and Paddy Treavor, President of CAMRA Powell River. Skeptics may dismiss this process as a typical BC Liberal dog & pony show masking done deals favouring their cronies. From our experience, Paddy, Adam, and I believe this is the not case. It is an opportunity for the Liberals to gain more confidence from a jaded public that was on the verge of delivering the last election to the NDP. If done properly, this liquor law review will be a legacy that will have a long memory in the minds of British Columbians.

So tomorrow, I strongly urge you to engage in one of the options available to have your opinions become a part of the collective will:

#bcliquor Twitter Townhall
Sunday, September 29
6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., PST

For topics and details, visit http://engage.gov.bc.ca/liquorpolicyreview/twitter-townhalls/.

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