The LCBO Issue: A Panic-Buyer Reflects

When the eve of the new millenium tolled, I scoffed at those who stocked up on bottled water and canned goods. And while Torontonians who'd learned their lesson from the city-wide power outage filled up their propane tanks and re-stocked their cupboards with batteries, I refused to bother.

But when the news of a potential LCBO strike wafted through the airwaves, I joined the masses of paranoid consumers, and in no time was dragging a booze-packed granny cart along Bloor street.

No alcohol for the long weekend? Now that would be a nightmare. Fortunately, the strike was averted as of this morning. But does this temporary relief mean the LCBO issue is over? Certainly not.

The details aren't yet out on why the Liquor Board workers changed their minds. But without getting into the particulars of the politics, I find the question of privitization intruiging.

As a consumer, I would love to have alcohol available to me in the supermarket and convenience stores. It's just, well, convenient. Whenever visiting Quebec or the states, I always take full advantage of this freedom.

And in addition to longer hours and more places to buy, privatization could also mean access to products that we can't currently get. If the LCBO can't guarantee a certain amount of sales, they're not going to ship in a specialty product. But a store that specializes because the owner has a passion for the product could offer all kinds of unique goods - and provide far more in terms of customer service. (And perhaps better prices?)

On the other hand, LCBO workers and supporters make a good point. If the Liquor Control Board is eventually dismantled, where would that money come from? It's a worrying thought.

Meanwhile, the LCBO seems to be working hard to keep its customers (not that we have a choice). Earlier this summer it campaigned with cocktail-tastings; now you can check out its "Beer Spoken Here" theme. (I like the interactive map.)

While my "panic-buying" was apparently unneccesary, it did have its advantages. While the LCBO (and the Beer Store, lest they be forgotten) will most certainly be barraged with thirsty procrastinators on Friday evening, I'll be relaxing with a cold one.

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