New booze law brouhaha
Regulating the consumption of alcohol has always been a thorny topic in Toronto
Following Tim Hudak’s buck-a-beer musings, Premier Dalton McGuinty brought up an electoral chestnut recently when he mused of rejigging Ontario’s booze laws to allow for, among other things, a right and proper tailgating party.
But his handlers might want to exercise restraint. When it comes to liquor, the pace of change around here is glacial. And that’s in a good year.
In the 1960s, bars were no longer forced to close over the dinner hour. Hours of operation were extended past 12 hours, and self-service liquor stores were introduced. Previously, clerk-run shops kept the goods out of view. Who knows what kind of madness could happen should one be allowed to caress a full bottle of brandy before purchase.
In the 1970s, we really started to open things up. Ontario decided it was time to abolish sex-segregated seating. The ladies were finally allowed to share a booth with the fellas, and drink a glass of wine… at the same time!
It wasn’t until the 1980s that Ontarians were allowed to quaff a cold one on outdoor patios. But it is hard to imagine a time when spring wasn’t celebrated with one patio opening or another. Also during this free-for-all decade, wine kiosks were permitted in grocery stores and all manner of brew pubs, wine-making establishments and their ilk were opening willy-nilly straight across the province.
The province has a long history with the temperance movement. Although prohibition ended in 1927 with the establishment of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, Toronto had a number of “dry” neighbourhoods that held out for decades. It is hard to imagine, but the Junction area in the west end of Toronto was alcohol-free until 1999. No, not 1899, only a dozen years ago.
So, sure McGuinty can wax poetic about strolling through festivals beer in hand grooving to the psychedelic tunes man and Hudak can talk about his buck-a-beer memories, but the truth is, old habits die hard. The road to Queen’s Park is not paved with loose booze-law morals.