LCBO strike: Doug Ford cooks up new video promoting booze shop alternatives

Click to play video: 'Ford promotes LCBO alternatives amid strike: ‘Still plenty of options’'
Ford promotes LCBO alternatives amid strike: ‘Still plenty of options’
WATCH - Ford promotes LCBO alternatives amid strike: ‘Still plenty of options’ – Jul 8, 2024

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says there are “still plenty of options” for Ontarians to buy alcohol in a new video drawing ire from some on social media.

Ford released the video in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Monday as LCBO workers find themselves on the picket lines for the first time in the province’s history.

“It’s summertime in Ontario. That means more time outside with family and friends at a neighbourhood barbecue or a camping trip,” Ford said in the video, which shows him barbecuing burgers alongside a selection of what appear to be Ontario-made alcoholic beverages next to the grill.

“Even though LCBO workers are on strike, there’s still plenty of options for you to buy beer, wine, cider, coolers and even spirits, including products made right here in Ontario.”

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Video promotes government-made interactive map

After Ford is done at the grill, the video cuts to him sitting at a table with a computer, scrolling through a new interactive map listing locations throughout Ontario licensed to sell alcohol, including LCBO Convenience Outlets.

“We’ve created this handy new map that shows what stores are open and what they sell,” he said.

“Folks, it’s just that simple. I hope you all give it a try and take the opportunity to support Ontario producers and their fantastic Ontario-made products this summer.”

Click to play video: 'Distilleries Face Surge After LCBO Strike'
Distilleries Face Surge After LCBO Strike

LCBO workers went on strike July 5 for the first time in the province’s history after talks between the Crown agency and the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union (OPSEU) broke down.

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The sale of pre-mixed drinks at corner and grocery stores – a move the Ford government has been instrumental in making a reality – has been a key sticking point between the two sides.

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Some 9,000 workers are off the job for at least two weeks, or until a deal is reached. If a deal is not reached by July 19, 32 stores across the province will open for limited hours on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The Beer Store, local breweries and wineries as well as the LCBO’s online delivery services will remain open during the strike.

‘It makes me furious’

Reaction to Ford’s video has been swift, including from some of his critics.

“It makes me furious that @fordnation can publish an interactive map to find beer after just one weekend but he won’t do the same thing to help any of the 2.3 million Ontarians who can’t find a family doctor,” Adil Shamji, a Liberal MPP for Don Valley East, wrote in a post on X.

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Laura Walton, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, said in a post on X that interactive maps she would like to see from the province should include affordable housing and fully staffed emergency rooms with minimal wait times.

In a statement Monday evening, OPSEU bargaining chair Colleen MacLeod told Global News Ford is “undermining” LCBO employees.

“LCBO workers fully support the mom-and-pop stores and craft brewers, wineries and distilleries and we also encourage folks to go to them. But that’s not what Ford is doing. He is undermining LCBO workers and this strike to hand the alcohol market over to big box store, grocery, and convenience chain CEOs so that alcohol sales can be monopolized by them,” MacLeod said.

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“In fact, mom-and-pop stores and small producers will be worse off in Doug Ford’s Ontario – his business model is going to crush them, not help them. … If Ford really cared about an Ontario that’s ‘for the people’ he would have worked on a family doctor finder rather than a booze finder, and he would have invested in the public services we all rely on rather than throwing away the very revenues that fund them.”

In a statement last Thursday, the government said it was “disappointed” talks had broken down, refusing to back away from its plans to liberalize alcohol sales.

“We are more committed than ever to fulfilling our promise of choice and convenience by expanding access to beer, cider, wine, and ready-to-drink beverages in convenience, grocery, and big-box stores starting later this summer,” the government said.

“We urge OPSEU to return to the negotiating table and work towards a deal that prioritizes Ontario consumers and producers.”

— with files from Isaac Callan

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