October 6, 2011

Why the LCBO isn’t like Foodland Ontario

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Cancon, Government, Wine — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:01

Michael Pinkus tries to decide who to vote for in today’s Ontario election on the basis of who’d be the most likely to put Ontario’s wineries on an equal footing with foreign wineries in their own province:

It’s election day, and I don’t want to take up a lot of your time on a day when you should be concentrating on who to vote for. Over the past few months I have given you food for thought from Tim Hudak’s vision of the wine industry in Ontario to Andrea Horwath’s working with the LCBO option, and I heard or received nothing about the reigning Liberal party’s platform on the subject of the wine industry, I guess for them it will remain status quo. So I guess it’s up to you to decided where your loyalties lie and who you chose to believe as to what difference they’ll make, if any.

[. . .]

Part of an email I received about election promises …
“David Peterson campaigned on putting wine in corner stores in 1985 and he won — twice!
Mike Harris campaigned on putting wine in corner stores in 1995 and he won — twice!
Where are those promises in this campaign [I need to know who to vote for].”
– John

[. . .]

The LCBO affects all wineries in Ontario, but truthfully it is not the sole fault of the liquor board, they are just following their mandate to make money for the government. Two days before the election, the Grape Growers of Ontario released this plea:

“Consumer access to the wines made from Ontario grapes is a keystone issue for the future success of the industry, and unless Queen’s Park is willing to make substantive changes to the way it promotes and sells Ontario wines, the industry will continue to tread water … The domestic market share of Ontario wines is stagnant at around 39% while other winemaking regions are flourishing in their own backyard, some with market shares in excess of 90% … By making changes in the way the LCBO presents Ontario VQA wines on its shelves, how many Ontario VQA labels are available and how those wines get onto the LCBO list, accompanied by an increased, year-round promotional effort within the LCBO, the sales of Ontario’s wines will grow.”

They’re not telling you who to vote for, but they are asking you to be mindful of your vote. But I think it’s more to do with what happens after the election that counts, not the foreplay leading up to it. After the euphoria of victory has subsided we have to hold elected officials to what they promise, or pressure them to give us better and help our wineries, who are after all, tax payers themselves, yet work in a very restricted and restrictive environment. As a lover of Ontario wine you have to demand more. As the Grape Growers point out in that same plea: “We want to see provincial politicians who understand that marketing foreign wines in an agency owned by the province is like Foodland Ontario launching a promotion of Georgia peaches. It’s just not right. We can no longer afford to just sit back and watch.” Now that would be a nice change.

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