Doug Ford met with a top 7-Eleven exec during a trip to Texas last year
Premier Doug Ford reportedly met with a 7-Eleven executive during a trade mission in Texas last Feburary, roughly a year before an application to serve alcohol at 61 7-Eleven locations across the province entered the public notice phase.
The premier's office published a news release following his 24-hour trip to Dallas with Minister Vic Fedeli in February of 2020, and it outlined many of his activities including a meeting with Toyota Motor North America, the Canadian Consul General in Dallas and the Canada-Texas Chamber of Commerce.
It did not, however, include any mention of a conversation with 7-Eleven Chief Operating Officer Chris Tanco, but CBC News learned of the meeting on Feb. 10 through a freedom of information request for the premier's appointment schedule.
"Our focus in sitting down with our partners in Texas was creating more opportunities for businesses to invest and create jobs in Ontario," said Premier Ford in the release.
"We don't just trade together — we also build things together. And when we do that, we're supporting good jobs on both sides of the border. It's a win-win for everyone."
I just love that Doug Ford is working on behalf of the province to improve relations between Ontario and... 7-Eleven https://t.co/R6UXwXS2BE— Jesse Hawken (@jessehawken) February 18, 2021
Ford's director of media relations, Ivana Yelich, meanwhile confirmed to CBC News that "the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the potential expansion of 7-Eleven's footprint in Ontario."
The reveal has lead many to question why the premier's office would choose to purposely omit the details of his meeting when publishing the news release.
Why did @fordnation intentionally omit his Feb 2020 meeting with 7-Eleven COO at their Texas Head Office? Maybe since Ford initiated & encouraged beer & wine sales in (7-Eleven) corner stores in Ontario. Hence the new application put forward in ON. #Ford👺 #transparency #Profits https://t.co/fU9acvjm7F— Marg Bartlett🇨🇦 Toller Lilly🐕🐾❤️😰Jul24/20💔 (@sparkyb1) February 18, 2021
But Ford's participation in the proposed 7-Eleven expansion will likely come as no surprise to most Ontario residents considering offering cheap beer at convenience stores was one of his major campaign promises.
While the 7-Eleven deal could help him finally accomplish that goal, it won't actually allow for takout sales, though.
Earlier this year, the international convenience store chain applied to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) to get Liquor Sales Licences "for on-site consumption only," to be used once pandemic restrictions prohibiting indoor drinking and dining have been lifted.
In other words, 7-Eleven would open up bars inside its current locations and serve alcohol on site.
7-Eleven has to be doing this as a step toward offering retail booze in the near future, because who the hell is stopping at one of their locations to enjoy a pint next to the slushee machine?— Andrew Joe Potter (@AndrewJoePotter) February 18, 2021
Anyway, why not be upfront about this meeting if you’re Ford’s admin? https://t.co/ChXLnnp9WK
"Given its current business model, 7-Eleven would not be eligible to offer takeout and delivery of liquor with food orders," said the AGCO in a statement.
And in a statement sent to blogTO earlier this week, 7-Eleven Canada said it's "preparing for in-store service of a small selection of Ontario-made beer and wine products, offered during limited hours, and in designated consumption areas of our stores."
"Should we be successful in obtaining licences, all staff handling alcohol products will be SmartServe trained," the statement continues.
"7-Eleven Canada is a responsible retailer and a trusted partner of the federal and provincial governments, controlling access to age-restricted products for over 25 years.
"We are committed to meeting the needs of our Ontario customers and we look forward to the opportunity to grow jobs and contribute to the Ontario economy. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is currently reviewing our licence applications."
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