Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday December 15, 2023
Ontario’s Boozy Awakening Just in Time for Christmas Cheer!
In a festive twist just shy of two weeks before Christmas, Premier Doug Ford has bestowed upon Ontario’s booze enthusiasts a gift as grand as old Ebenezer Scrooge’s change of heart. After a century of stringent liquor control, the provincial government is set to break free from the chains of the past, bringing a wave of merriment to beer and wine lovers across the land.
Ford, in his role as the newfound spirit of holiday cheer, unveiled plans to uncork additional choices for buyers of beer, wine, cider, hard seltzer, and premixed cocktails. The modernization of Ontario’s booze laws, set to be fully realized by “no later than Jan. 1, 2026,” promises a liberating experience for consumers. In an exuberant announcement at an Etobicoke variety store, one of the 8,500 new outlets destined to sell alcoholic delights, Ford joyfully declared the fulfillment of a 2018 promise to bring the spirit of celebration to convenience and grocery stores.
Ontario, donning a festive cap, will join Quebec as the only provinces to embrace such widespread, liberalized corner shop sales, treating its citizens like responsible revellers. Premier Ford, a teetotaller with a heart full of goodwill, urged those who partake in libations to revel responsibly and avoid the pitfalls of inebriated sleigh rides.
The publicly owned LCBO will continue its monopoly on spirits but will now dance to the tune of “competitive pricing,” potentially offering a yuletide discount for consumers. Retailers, donning their holiday best, will be free to set their own prices, promoting a harmonious balance between merriment and social responsibility.
Amidst the jubilation, The Beer Store, adorned in festive spirits, will continue to control beer distribution until 2031, ensuring that the beer-loving citizens of Ontario have a frothy source of joy. The province will sweeten the deal by paying The Beer Store to continue its successful deposit and return system, diverting 97 percent of beer bottles and cans from landfill annually.
All across Ontario, supermarkets, big box stores, corner shops, and even gas stations selling snacks can now apply for licenses to become purveyors of liquid holiday cheer. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, acting as the guardian of the Christmas spirit, will ensure that underage revellers are kept at bay.
In a tale reminiscent of Scrooge’s awakening, the announcement marks the end of the 10-year “master framework agreement,” signed by former Premier Kathleen Wynne, allowing the Progressive Conservatives to keep their almost six-year-old campaign pledge of “beer in corner stores” just in time for the June 2026 election.
While some critics, akin to the ghosts of Christmas past, warned of potential consequences and international embarrassment, the Tories decided to let the master framework agreement run its course, heralding it as good news and a step towards a more spirited future.
As a final touch to this holiday extravaganza, the Tories will eliminate a 6.1 percent tax at on-site winery retail stores, spreading joy among the Ontario wine industry. Despite uncertainties about how many Ontarians are clamuoring for more places to buy beer and wine, the government is convinced that this spirited initiative will be the toast of the next election.
In this whimsical tale of policy changes and holiday revelry, it seems that even the most staunch defenders of the status quo, like the former Liberal Premier David Peterson, have embraced the spirit of change or, in his own words, “If people want changes, I’m OK with it. If they don’t, I’m OK with that too.” After all, in the grand tapestry of public policy, the expansion of beer and wine in corner stores may not be the most significant piece, but it surely adds a touch of festive sparkle to the political landscape. Cheers to a merrier and more spirited Ontario! (AI)
From sketch to finish, see the current way Graeme completes an editorial cartoon using an iPencil, the Procreate app, and a couple of cheats on an iPad Pro. If you’re creative, give illustration a try: