Flaherty vows to sell Ontario's liquor firm

Along with selling off liquor stores, Mr. Flaherty said he would break up the private monopoly of the Beer Stores, which are run by a consortium of Ontario's breweries, and consider allowing the sale of beer and wine in corner stores.

The Globe and Mail
February 22, 2002

Flaherty vows to sell Ontario's liquor firm
Richard Mackie

LCBO%20logo%20F.jpg

Jim Flaherty tried on Friday to boost his bid to win the leadership of Ontario's Progressive Conservative Party by going back to the future in campaign promises and resurrecting a party pledge from 1995 to sell off the LCBO liquor stores, the TV Ontario government television network and several other assets.

Mr. Flaherty, Deputy Premier and Finance Minister, said his philosophy is that, "If a business is listed in the Yellow Pages [of the telephone directory], I believe the government probably shouldn't be in it."

Along with selling off liquor stores, Mr. Flaherty said he would break up the private monopoly of the Beer Stores, which are run by a consortium of Ontario's breweries, and consider allowing the sale of beer and wine in corner stores.

After its election in 1995, the Conservative government spent several years considering the feasibility of selling the LCBO and TV Ontario. It concluded that it could not risk reducing the $900-million a year that it receives from the LCBO and that private investors were not interested in buying TV Ontario.

The LCBO is the largest retailer of alcohol in the world and uses its purchasing power to ensure low wholesale prices for its products and widespread availability of specialty brands, said a government official who has examined the possibility of selling the board.

Mr. Flaherty said he believes the government could sell the LCBO, increase choice and competition and still bring in more revenue through a new licencing system. He suggested that the government could obtain as much as $1.3-billion a year from licensing.

He promised to promote responsible drinking and said he would revoke the licences of retailers found guilty of selling alcohol to minors.

Within 12 months of becoming premier, Mr. Flaherty promised the government would also get out of Teranet, the Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre Centre, Ontario Place, Big Thunder Ski Hill in Thunder Bay and sell off surplus Ontario Realty Corp. land.

Mr. Flaherty, who is one of four candidates trailing the front-runner in the leadership, former finance minister Ernie Eves, has been pushing his campaign further to the right in recent weeks, including promising to make it illegal to sleep in public streets or parks.


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