That little piece of popular culture is analogous to our looming Ontario election. Specifically, there is a tempest brewing on the horizon related to how beer and wine will be available in this province, that will factor heavily into media coverage, and ultimately, into votes.
As the election is quickly approaching, private interests are moving to the front, as the alcohol distribution issue could have a huge financial fall-out or windfall. As an example, the Wine Council of Ontario has launched a web site called Pairs Perfectly. Essentially, this site is a positioned marketing platform, designed to create leverage on MPPs from the general public. Within the site, they provide a shortcut to sending provincial leaders feedback on private wine shops. More accurately, this is to generate mail supporting such shops, without much thought to their effect on society.
Similarly, we have another online article from Troy Media, chiming in. To be sure, this is a leaning-to-the-right perspective from Mr. Milke, from the Fraser Institute, whose motives are dominantly dollars. Mr. Milke argues that opening up the flood gates on alcohol sales would not impair government revenues nor impact alcohol-related harm, and pricing would remain relatively unchanged.
In both these cases, it appears that economics are fogging up good public policy. There is a clear, well-researched link between increased alcohol accessibility and increased alcohol-related harm. Private alcohol sales, where attempted in other provinces, have raised prices and increased harms such as chronic disease, addiction and injury – costing millions. These costs, viewed holistically, exceed all taxation revenue from alcohol.
To complete our analogy – the corporations that want to sell wine and beer on every corner won’t bear the costs when the levee breaks – everyday Ontarians will.