Doug Ford would allow beer, wine and cider to be sold in Ontario corner stores
Ontario PC leader Doug Ford makes an announcement at the Advanced Medical Group building during a campaign stop in London, Ont., on Friday, May 18, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Ryan
Allison Jones, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, May 18, 2018 3:41PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2018 5:13PM EDT
TORONTO -- Doug Ford said Friday that a Progressive Conservative government would allow beer and wine to be sold in Ontario corner stores, timing his announcement with the start of a long weekend.
The Liberal government started expanding alcohol sales in 2015 to up to 450 grocery stores, but said it would not include other retail outlets. Grocers are selected through a competitive bidding process held by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.
The Tories would allow beer, wine, cider and coolers to be sold in corner stores, box stores and any grocery store, Ford announced.
"As we approach the Victoria Day weekend, it is time to acknowledge that Ontario is mature enough for this change and ready to join other jurisdictions in making life a little more convenient," Ford said in a statement.
Ford said he would implement the booze policy as soon as possible, allowing any of those outlets to sell the beverages as long as they meet requirements from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.
Ford's announcement also comes as he faced heavy scrutiny Thursday and Friday about allegations that a Progressive Conservative candidate who resigned was involved in an alleged theft of customer data at a toll highway operator. Ford is also facing criticism for attending a fundraiser in violation of campaign finance rules, something he said was a mistake.
The Liberals suggested the timing of Ford's announcement was deliberate.
"Doug Ford is doing this today -- under fire and at the last minute -- as a way of distracting from the growing political scandal that surrounds (alleged) Conservative involvement in the theft of 407 ETR data," spokeswoman Drew Davidson wrote in a statement.
"This government has overseen the largest expansion of the retail sale of beer and wine in Ontario since the end of prohibition."
Selling beer in corner stores was first promised by the Liberal government of David Peterson more than 30 years ago. When he introduced the bill -- which was defeated in a minority parliament -- the reasoning was partly to increase convenience, partly to help small businesses and partly to assist the Ontario wine industry in the pre-free trade era.