REGINA – Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is musing about mixing up the province’s liquor market by privatizing provincially owned stores.
Wall said Wednesday he wants politicians to talk to people this summer about the idea.
The government announced last year that it is adding two private liquor stores in Regina and two in Saskatoon and Wall has said any other new stores would be private.
“I’m simply saying to our MLAs, find out if people are interested in more of that, would they like to see more private stores,” Wall said.
“And if we get a sense that that’s the case, we may – possibly – campaign on that in the next election, but people will be able to decide then. In other words, we would never change the act without a mandate to do so.”
An election win could be a mandate for making the change, he said. The next provincial election is expected to take place in April 2016.
The premier has said in the past that existing provincially owned liquor stores would not be privatized. Wall says a policy change would not be a flip flop.
“If we were to change it, we would only be able to do that with a mandate from the people.”
During the 2003 provincial election campaign, former Saskatchewan Party leader Elwin Hermanson mused about privatizing SaskTel – something that was widely cited as one of the major factors in his party’s defeat.
Wall said the discussion is not about privatizing Crown corporations, which are protected under legislation.
“That’s not at all what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about checking with Saskatchewan people about what they see for the future of liquor sales in the province,” he said.
© 2014 The Canadian Press