Print Edition: November 13, 2013
“Give me convenience, or give me death!” is the cry of the masses, as BC has decided to put provincial liquor policy under review. A website has been set up where you can go listen to Liberal MLA John Yap drone on about how much he cares about you, the dear consumer, and all the new ways you can enjoy getting drunk. I mean, wine tastings.
Let’s be honest. Most of us like a few too many drinks now and then. We don’t stop by the store for a six-pack so we can share it with six friends. The six-pack has one purpose: to get you drunk. Now, don’t get me wrong. The six-pack is a glorious thing; both fun and functional. It gets the job done. And that’s the point – if craft beer and wine tasting wasn’t about getting drunk, we’d have hundreds of shelves filled with root beer and grape juice.
Alcohol is, first and foremost, a drug. It gets you high. And that’s why we, as a province, drink a lot of it. It’s not just for the taste and the pretty packaging.
Back to John Yap and his policy changes. Does his name sound familiar? He is the same guy who resigned from the BC cabinet over the ethnic voter scandal. I met him once, nice guy – but he loves his pandering to consumers. For Yap, it’s all about image, targets, and sales. Profits over people.
The latest social issue Yap has loaded up for us is the idea of BC Liquor being moved into grocery stores. Why not? After all, the Americans do it. British Colombians love the thrill of smuggling craft beer purchased from a corner store in Bellingham, or the sight of eight isles of dark porter at a Fred Meyer in Portland. America: land of the beer shopper. What’s wrong with thinking, “Why can’t we have it here, too?”
Because we are not Americans! Unlike the sprawling empire to the south, we put people before profits. We have better things to worry about than helping booze companies like the Donnelly Group or Joseph Richard Group sell more hooch in Safeway.
There is talk of removing government stores altogether, privatizing the market, and eliminating the union employees that work at the BCL. All in the name of cheaper booze and easy access.
Give me convenience, give me death.
Booze—as fun and tasty as it can be—is also the most dangerous drug on the planet. According to a survey done by the Canadian Public Health Association, one in three Canadians have reported experiencing harm in the past year because of someone else’s drinking. In Canada, half of substance abuse treatments involve alcohol.
We love drinking. It’s in our national DNA. At the same time, we must be as reasonable as possible. We must place clear boundaries. We must be honest with ourselves: booze is not food, not a health supplement, and not a status symbol. Booze does not belong in a grocery store. It belongs as a separate entity, clearly regulated and staffed by well-paid professionals.
We don’t need convenience, we need responsibility.
But the nihilistic libertarian arguments continue. The same type of reasoning used for liquor to be deregulated in BC is fighting against road blocks and roadside sobriety tests. I hate the police enforcing strict limits on what I am capable of doing, too. But at the end of the day we’re talking about saving lives through preventive measures.
Yes, roadblocks keep cops, taxi cabs, and tow truck drivers employed. It’s a bit of a scam-meets-a-leaky-bucket system. A lot of money is wasted.
But citizens’ lives are being saved. Sadly, there are far too many wackos who can’t hold their booze and who get behind the wheel. I don’t like the road blocks, the liquor regulations, or the taxes; but we need them. We’re better off with them.