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Thousands sign petition to allow wine and beer sales in Ontario convenience stores

Thousands of disgruntled Ontario residents have signed a petition to allow convenience stores to sell wine and beer in the Canadian province.

Convenience store owner Joanne McMurchy with page one of the petition

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association released a petition with 112,500 signatures supporting the idea of broader availability of wine and beer.

“Ontarians are not happy with the antiquated alcohol retailing system we have in place,” association ceo Dave Bryans told The Globe and Mail newspaper.

“They’re responsible adults who want the convenience of walking to their local store to get wine for dinner or drinks for the barbecue.

“It makes no sense to anyone; it’s actually just total control,” Bryans added.

Former Liberal premier David Peterson promised to allow corner shops to sell beer and wine in the ‘80s, but it never happened, and the current Liberal government has no plans to change the rules.

The New Democratic Party has consistently opposed the sale of beer and wine in corner shops, but the Progressive Conservatives announced this week it was time Ontario re-examined its role in the drinks business.

“Are the old solutions from the ‘30s and ‘40s that the government should run the alcohol business in the province from top to bottom appropriate in the 21st century?” asked Progressive Conservatives leader Tim Hudak.

“I’ve been a long proponent of some kind of choice in the system,” he added.

The petition was started by Joanne McMurchy (pictured), who runs the General Store in the hamlet of Vanessa, where residents complained they have to drive 20 minutes to a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store.

Created in 1927 with the end of prohibition to control the sale of alcohol in Ontario, the LCBO sells beer and wine through a chain of retail outlets.

It turned over a record CAD$1.63 billion dividend to the Ontario government for 2010-11 after sales of CAD$4.7 billion.

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