EDITORIAL: Fixing liquor laws

For so many years, B.C. and Ontario have lagged behind other provinces, other countries, other planets with their draconian liquor laws

It’s been a whirlwind year or two of changes for B.C. liquor laws.

It seems this Liberal government is bound and determined to drag this province into the 1970s.

OK, that’s not really fair. Probably the 1990s.

For so many years, B.C. and Ontario have lagged behind other provinces, other countries, other planets with their draconian liquor laws. There were no pubs before Expo ’86. Buying a beer on a Sunday was verboten. It seemed some of the signs on the beer parlours that designated separate entrances for ‘Ladies and Escorts’ were still valid. There were odd rules, some still on the books within a still-complicated licensing structure, that forced people to buy food so they could enjoy a glass of wine.

Not sure why these two particular provinces lagged behind (insert poor-taste, British-influence joke here), but they did.

It may have had something to do with some well-meaning, puritanical urge to keep liquor away from minors. Or miners. Or both. Thing is, chasing forbidden fruit is part of the teen scene. Hmmmm, is this why B.C. is known world-wide for having a high per capita rate of pot smokers? Is it because teens could never get a beer in all the years B.C. has been a province? Having a drink isn’t such a big deal, and teen binging not as prevalent, in so many European countries that have always had a more Liberal outlook toward booze.

Alcohol has ruined many lives, many families. However, for every one who struggles with the disease of addiction to alcohol, there are many more who enjoy it responsibly.

In 2013, the province undertook a liquor policy review. Since its completion, the B.C. Liberals have been busy implementing dozens of recommendations from that review. You can now buy booze in grocery stores, but in typical B.C. fashion, only wine and only B.C. wine. You can, as of Jan. 23, carry your drink from your hotel’s lounge or restaurant to your room (because you have never done that before, right?). There are even happy hours at bars and pubs now, bringing us up to those glorious 1970s.

Yes, things are changing in B.C., including what’s happening at government liquor stores. We have written in this space previously that we, as taxpayers, don’t believe we should be in the liquor business, that this should be left to private interests. We’re not ready to backtrack on that stance, although the great selection, prices and the service (especially) at the semi-new B.C. Liquor Store at Wembley Mall in Parksville has made us reconsider that position.

— Editorial by John Harding

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