It appears the BC Liberals finally found a way to save face and cancel their plans to sell off the Liquor Distribution Branch's warehouse distribution system.
Hidden in a press release from the Ministry of Finance in regards to the provincial government's tentative agreement with the BCGEU for a new two-year contract, it was announced, "(a)s part of the agreement, the Negotiated Request for Proposal process for the privatization of liquor distribution was cancelled."
This is welcome news to those who have been opposing how this whole LDB privatization process has been unfolding. I have been saying for a few months now that I believed the Liberals would find a way to back away from their controversial plans but they just needed to find a way to save face and make it look like they were doing it for some greater good, not because of immense pressure from the public and private sectors of BC and the media.
At first glance it looks like the BCGEU, who were very vocal in their opposition to the privatization plus, provided that avenue of escape.
I think a lot of credit needs to go to the media and bloggers who played a big role in shedding light on what appears to have been some scandalous backroom deals which resembled the controversial BC Rail privatization. On the heels of the HST debacle, it seemed political suicide for the Liberals to try to sneak this privatization past the BC public, but try the did, showing, in my opinion, the arrogant attitude this government has and its disdain for public wants and needs.
What will this mean for BC craft beer consumers?
Well, we will never really know, but I think in the short term we won't have to worry about potential price increases and restricted access to locally produced craft beer as a result of a private monopoly, accountable to only their shareholders, taking over the warehouse distribution on alcohol in BC.
The downside is that we are stuck with the current system, which is flawed and needs overhauling, but at least it is a system that is accountable, to some extent, to the voters of BC.
Better to deal with the devil you know...
Let's hope all this media attention on the LDB will prompt some positive changes in the future by the next government, which by all accounts looks to be the NDP. I think those wanting reform need to make this need for the modernization of our liquor system an election issue and push to get commitments from those seeking election next May to bring the LDB and the LCLB into the 21st Century.