Vern's Verbal Vibe

Singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist and purveyor of folk 'n' roll: spirit-filled sad songs made better.

May 23, 2011

Ontario to "Relax" Liquor Laws


"There's 'overwhelming' public support for Ontario to relax its liquor laws—something the provincial government will deliver this summer, said Attorney General Chris Bentley. Adults will soon have more freedom to wander around at festivals with a drink in hand under new provincial regulations, he said in an interview with The Canadian Press. No date has yet been set for their release, but the new rules should take effect in time for the summer, Bentley added. The public's chance to comment on the proposed changes ended May 1. While a few people disagreed with the idea, most supported it, he said. 'The overwhelming majority were for more flexibility,' Bentley said."

Guess who was one of the six nutters to disagree? Uh-huh. Sadly, society's attitudes toward drinking are where they were vis-à-vis smoking circa 1955: it's harmless, it's relaxing, it's stylish and everybody else is doing it, so what's your problem?

Interestingly, the article goes on to say that law enforcement officials—notably the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police—expressed concerns, "saying it could encourage underage drinking, create unsafe environments for families and logistical headaches for officers trying to enforce the law." This apparently led to the province to make some changes to their original proposal.

Read the full article here, and for the record, below is my letter to the minister.


Dear Minister Bentley,

I am writing to voice my opposition to the proposed "modernization" of Ontario's liquor laws. As a non-drinker, I believe the province's liquor laws are already far too lax. Every day I am deluged by alcohol advertisements and the ubiquitous presence of liquor in Ontarian society. Government outlets such as the LCBO and Beer Store sell liquor and lifestyle part and parcel, their stylish veneer a cloak of denial obscuring the truth about the world's most dangerous drug.

The preceding statement is not mere opinion; science backs me up. A recent study by the World Health Organization found alcohol to be the world's leading killer, accounting for over 4% of all deaths annually. Several months ago, a study in The Lancet found alcohol to be far and away the most dangerous drug, both in terms of harm to individuals and to society as a whole. Based on The Lancet's figures, alcohol is in fact four times more harmful than tobacco, the McGuinty government's favourite whipping boy.

I can also speak of the devastating effects of alcohol from personal experience. As an adult child of alcoholics, liquor has wreaked havoc on my life—and I am a lifelong teetotaller. I invite you to read The Problem, a summary of  liquor's impact on those who grew up in families where alcohol abuse was rampant. Needless to say, these effects persist well into adulthood.

In summary, the laws you are seeking to change are not "outdated restrictions"; they are necessary measures to prevent drinkers from further encroaching upon the well-being of those who choose not to imbibe. If you refuse to tighten Ontario's liquor laws, I urge you to at the very least leave them alone.

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