The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) says it is removing all products produced in Russia from store shelves following a government directive.
“The LCBO supports the provincial and federal governments in condemning Russia’s attack on Ukraine,” an LCBO statement said Friday.
“In addition to Canada’s sanctions against Russia, the Government of Ontario has sought LCBO’s support in opposition to Russian actions against Ukraine sovereignty.”
The statement said effective immediately, all products made in Russia will be removed from LCBO stores and the corporation’s website.
“As LCBO wholesale customers, grocery stores and licensees make their own decisions about the availability of Russian products, however they will no longer be able to order these products until further notice,” the statement continued.
“We will support our valued partners by accepting the return of any Russian-produced products.”
Earlier Friday, Ontario’s finance minister said he was directing the LCBO to pull all products produced in Russia from store shelves amid the conflict in Ukraine.
“As Premier (Doug) Ford said yesterday, Ontario joins Canada’s allies in condemning the Russian government’s act of aggression against the Ukrainian people and we strongly support the federal government’s efforts to sanction the Russian government,” Peter Bethlenfalvy said in a statement issued Friday afternoon.
“The people of Ontario will always stand against tyranny and oppression. To that end, I am directing the LCBO to withdraw all products produced in Russia from store shelves.
“We will continue to be there for the Ukrainian people during this extremely difficult time.”
A government source told Global News it will take around 24 hours to remove the products from store shelves. There will be around 25 Russian products affected, with the biggest one being Russian Standard Vodka.
The announcement came after the leader of Ontario’s Liberal Party called for the move earlier Friday.
Steven Del Duca said that he wrote to LCBO President and CEO George Soleas requesting “swift action” to pull Russian alcohol off shelves “to ensure the province is doing everything it can to send a clear message to the Russian leader his aggression will not be tolerated.”
“Our allies in Ukraine are under attack by Russia and need our help,” Del Duca continued.
“Pulling Russian vodka from the shelves of the LCBO is an immediate action Ontario can take to demonstrate our solidarity with the people of Ukraine.”
The LCBO carries several brands of Russian vodka such as Russian Standard Vodka, Beluga Russian Luxury Vodka, among others.
Del Duca said the LCBO is one of the largest alcohol purchasers in the world.
“Banning the sale of these products will prevent any further money from going to Russia during their illegal invasion,” Del Duca said.
At an unrelated press conference on Friday, Ford said he was already speaking to the finance minister about the matter.
“Well actually, I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the Liberals. We were discussing this yesterday with the finance minister,” Ford said. “But in saying that, that’s a very, very small part and I’d be willing to discuss that further with the finance minister and he’ll have words later on.”
The government source said the province was in discussions with the LCBO over the past 24 hours reviewing the legalities of pulling the products.
The LCBO was also hearing from customers, asking if they would be willing to see the products removed, the source said.
Ford also said that the province will be speaking with the federal government about trade with Russia in general.
Meanwhile, Ford said on Thursday the province is providing $300,000 in humanitarian aid to the Canada-Ukraine Foundation.
— With files from Matthew Bingley