Debate continues about alcohol in corner stores
00:00:00 | 00:00:00::Projekktor V1.3.09 (Update)Convenience store owners in Ontario are gearing up for a big announcement and pushing back against the Liberal government. They want to sell beer, wine and spirits in corner stores. And while the battle is years old, a statement made Monday by Ontario’s Finance Minister Charles Sousa has them fired up all over again. Elise Copps reports.As a small business owner in rural Ontario, Joanne McMurchy struggles to turn a profit: “Even if it comes down to it where it does put us out of business because I can’t compete with the liquor agency up the road, I will continue to hopefully see it through. Whether I have a store or not.”She’s been fighting to get beer and wine into the Vanessa General Store for years.In 2012, she presented a petition of over one hundred thousand signatures to legislators at Queen’s Park: “It’s clear that the people of Ontario want beer and wine in the stores but the government is choosing who can and who can’t sell.”Finance Minister, Charles Sousa, says the Liberals have no plans to let corner stores sell alcohol: “At this point we’re going to stick with the framework and the plan that we have.”That answer isn’t good enough for McMurchy: “We’ve got one store that’s an agency that thrives, and four stores that are struggling. In the same area.”It’s not just small businesses that are pushing for change. big players like Mac’s Convience Stores and Petro Canada are a driving force behind the lobby.Some consumers worry that selling alcohol at a gas station will encourage drinking and driving. But the Ontario convenience stores association says as it stands now, most Ontarians already have to drive to get to an LCBO or a beer store.According to the OCSA, 67% of Ontarians support their cause.“I don’t see a problem as long as they check ID’s and that kind of thing.”“People who own the stores will not adhere to the law that carefully and people will be underage drinking more.”“More competition would probably drive the prices down lower and you’d have something like the states. Maybe we’ll have less people going to the states and buying their alcohol.”As for McMurchy, she’ll keep targeting Ontario’s leaders until she can sell alcohol in her general store.The Ontario Convenience Stores Association will be making their announcement Tuesday at Queen’s Park. They’ll be joined by big players from Mac’s Convenience Stores and Petro Canada. We don’t know exactly what the announcement will be, but it’s about craft breweries and wineries in Ontario.