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OPINION: Why Not Privatize Liquor Sales In Manitoba?

WINNIPEG, MB. – A discussion among some friends touched on the MLCC. Why doesn’t the government simply follow the lead of Alberta and privatize liquor sales?

In Alberta, this was achieved quite easily and now appears to offer more choices and competitive pricing for the consumers. Was there a benefit to the government? I certainly believe there was indeed a benefit. The government maintains the distribution of alcohol as they control the flow. What they don’t have is thousands of staff in retail locations across the province. What they don’t have is the fear of job action. What they don’t have is the daily expense of all the retail locations in every community throughout the province. What they do have are many new local businesses, less operational costs year after year and more positive revenues being added to the provincial spending accounts.

I’m not the first to make the suggestion. Government-run outlets are hit with higher union wages, limited variety, no competitive pricing and expensive retail locations that we, the taxpayers, continue to pay for year after year. The privatization of liquor sales would promote entrepreneurialism within the province. We would see new stores opening throughout the province resulting in more staff hired in the private sector. Alberta did limit the involvement of big-box stores selling liquor, which promoted, even more, local entrepreneurs’ involvement and limited the negative impact in the communities. Just asking — can’t Manitoba do the same?

How many people do you know that make trips across the border and purchase alcohol? We’ll never see pricing that the folks south of us enjoy. But let me ask: is the price the only reason people you know, or you yourself, make purchases down south? I would suggest not. I know many people who want the variety not offered in Manitoba. As I said previously, a privatized Manitoba system could see more specialty stores opening up and offering the greater variety people want.

If there is job action during the holidays, one can assume some specialty wine stores in the province will be open and happy to serve you.

It seems that almost every day we hear about financial issues with the government in Manitoba. Less government involvement is always beneficial. Don’t you think the government should focus on controlling expenses, lowering the tax burden, improving infrastructure and the quality of life in our province?

Privatization done similar to Alberta would see the government still in control of the laws governing the sale of alcohol, enjoying the tax revenues and benefiting from much lower operational costs. The privatized system should increase the profit to the government with fewer operational costs and newfound revenues to re-invest.

So, why not privatize Manitoba liquor sales?

Kevin Klein, MyToba News

Kevin Klein is President and CEO of MyToba News. The former publisher and CEO of the Winnipeg Sun, Kevin has spent several years in Canadian media working in newspapers, radio and television. A proud and passionate citizen of Winnipeg and Manitoba, Kevin is excited to bring you news, pictures and information on the many wonderful charity groups in our province. If you have an event you want us to know about, email Kevin at kevin@mytoba.ca and follow him on Twitter @kevinkleinwpg.
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