Yesterday’s big news is, actually, very old news. (Photo: Doug Ford yesterday). 

Our bumbling Premier, the hapless Doug Ford, is finally going to deliver on his stale 2018 promise to (sort of) open-up the beer market to greater retail competition in…. 2026. 

The policy was initially celebrated with great fanfare by Ford’s enablers. On 7 August 2018, former PC Health Minister, Newmarket-Aurora MPP and now health lobbyist, Christine Elliott, told the Ontario legislature:

“Buck-a-beer is part of the government’s commitment to transforming alcohol retailing in Ontario, which includes expanding the sale of beer and wine to convenience stores, grocery stores and big box stores. This is just further evidence that our government is going to do what we said we would do, and that’s put Ontario consumers first.”

The Beer Store Bill barrelled through the Legislature with no Committee stage. No thought had been given to the consequences of Ontario breaking its contract with the Beer Store owners. 


But this casual disregard for proper process was an early indication of how Ford would govern. Cack-handed and spur-of-the-moment decision making.

In 2019, after months trying, I got an appointment to meet Elliott at her constituency office in the Nature’s Emporium plaza in Newmarket.

Dawn Gallagher Murphy - who was appointed by Ford as PC candidate to replace Elliott  – sat in on the meeting, taking notes. Gallagher Murphy asked me to let her know beforehand what I wanted to talk about. It soon became clear to me that I knew more about the issue than they did.

I wanted to know what, if anything, would stop the Beer Store owners going to Court for breach of contract? And if the Province negotiated with the Beer Store owners and settled out of Court, what would that settlement look like?

I remember the blank faces.

I saved a few minutes to talk about the subversion of Parliamentary process and procedure. The story is rich with irony. 

Choking off debate

The disgraced former Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister, Steve Clark, used to complain about the way in which the (then) Liberal Government was constantly trying to curtail debate. On 28 May 2015 he fumed:

“Time after time, we’ve had negotiations where all of a sudden the government stops talking to us and presents bills that will either choke off debate or move bills through quickly without hearing from constituents.”

There is now a very long list of consequential Bills that reached the Statute Book with absolutely no public input whatsoever. 

Does that concern Newmarket-Aurora’s Dawn Gallagher-Murphy?

I doubt she has given any thought to it. 

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See also Toronto Star editorial 15 December 2023.