EDITORIAL: Is Yap really listening?

Despite a clear message from public, B.C. Liberals still don't want people to enjoy convenience when it comes to liquor purchases

Why is it that B.C., regardless of what party is in power, seems to love social engineering.

With a three-month consultation period ending, Richmond-Steveston MLA John Yap said Tuesday about 80 per cent of respondents want the extra convenience that is routine in U.S. grocery stores — people in B.C. clearly want to be able to buy their beer, wine and liquor in the same place they buy their groceries, something that’s commonplace in many jurisdictions in North America.

Yap, according to reports from Black Press, says he has heard that message loud and clear. Considering the spin he’s now putting on the results, we suggest he hasn’t heard the message loudly or clearly.

Yap is proposing a “store within a store” model with separate staff for alcohol purchases.

It’s like the government — the supposed free enterprise, less government, less-red-tape B.C. Liberals for goodness sake — believes it needs to protect us from ourselves. Despite a clear message to the contrary, the B.C. Liberals want to hold on to some control and make things more difficult for consumers and businesses alike.

Alcohol use has its inherent dangers. It can destroy families. But there is no evidence to suggest alcohol-related tragedies are more prevalent in jurisdictions that allow a more logical, consumer-friendly way to purchase a bottle of wine or a case of beer.

If grocery-store owners don’t want the hassle, or don’t see profit large enough to go along with any aggravation caused by liquor sales, that’s fair — they should have the choice to sell what they please in their places of business. But we are not hearing that, either.

Perhaps Yap believes this is such a big shift for the great unwashed that it has to be introduced in phases. Again, that’s social engineering and we take offence to being parented by politicians.

We suspect it’s all about money. Or relationships with unions. Perhaps the B.C. Liberals believe the model Yap suggests will allow them to hold on to more of the money they get from liquor sales. Or perhaps they don’t want to engage in the fight that’s surely to emerge if every government-owned and union-staffed liquor store is closed.

If that is the case, then say it. Loudly and clearly, would be good. We can take the truth. It’s the mamby-pamby, social engineering, government-knows-best stance we resent.

— Editorial by John Harding