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Saturday, August 31, 2013

What is the purpose of BC’s liquor laws in 2013?

Almost 100 years ago Canadian provinces other than Québec voted for the total prohibition of alcohol. In BC this occurred in 1917 following a referendum but was soon repealed in 1921, overwhelmed by a tide of organized crime, official corruption and political scandal. Prohibition was imposed on the aboriginal people of Canada for over a century ending only in 1962.

Key elements of our present system of liquor control in BC emerged out of those prohibition years. In 1921, social concerns were addressed through a government owned sales and distribution system. There were few liquor outlets, operating for limited hours and drinkers had to purchase a license.

This month the BC government announced a review of its liquor policies, the first comprehensive review since 1999. The conditions that led to prohibition are largely no longer with us: a world war, disenfranchised women and sky high alcohol consumption, mostly by men. But the “social concerns” about alcohol have not disappeared. What can we learn from that the prohibition era? What have we learned about alcohol problems and how best to address them at this time in our history?  > > >   Read More