Premier Doug Ford is taking steps to scrap a contract with The Beer Store, so that all Ontario grocery stores and convenience stores would be permitted to sell beer. (Turget Yeter/CBC)
(May 27) The Ford government plans to terminate an agreement with The Beer Store that would see sale of beer and wine in corner stores. As Erica Vella reports, the move could cause a legal challenge and significant financial penalties.
The United States Chamber of Commerce is weighing in on the cancellation of the Ontario government’s contract with The Beer Store.
In a letter sent Tuesday to Premier Doug Ford, Neil Herrington, the chamber of commerce’s senior vice-president for the Americas, wrote: “Our strong concern is that terminating an existing contract, and doing so without compensation — something we understand is proposed in the case of the ‘Bringing Choice and Fairness to the People Act’ — risks sending a negative signal to U.S. and other international investors about the business and investment climate in Ontario.”
The letter comes just days after the Ontario Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Finance Minister Vic Fedeli expressing similar concerns. Fedeli has repeatedly referred to The Beer Store contact as a “sweetheart deal” and a monopoly that does not benefit consumers.
As a legal battle between the owners of The Beer Store — Molson, Labatt and Sleeman — brews, it remains unclear what the price could be to Ontario taxpayers.
Scrapping the 10-year contract could result in serious financial penalties, however when he has been questioned about those penalties, Fedeli has said legislation to cancel the deal will nullify any such costs.
In his letter, Herrington also wrote: “This, in turn, could undermine the constructive work you and your government have done and the case the Ford government has made that the province is open for business.”
“We thus strongly urge your government to work with all corporate stakeholders in the ‘Bringing Choice and Fairness to the People Act’ process to ensure that a resolution amenable to all parties is achieved in a manner that upholds your government’s heretofore strong commitment to making the private sector an engine of the province’s growth.” MORE