The right to bear beer


Since July, 100,000 Ontarians have signed a petition encouraging Ontario’s next government to allow beer and wine sales in convenience stores. But Dave Bryans, the figurehead of the “Free Our Beer” movement and president of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, says the group hasn’t had much success getting pre-election traction on the issue. “It’s kind of a political bombshell…because of social, religious and family values,” he said.

Not that convenience-store owners necessarily agree anyway, despite the petition. Lina [no last name given], the owner of Nobrega’s Variety at Dundas and Dovercourt, said she’d probably end up selling booze to compete with other stores if it were legal, but worries that unscrupulous shopkeepers might sell to underagers.

“The young kids, they can’t control themselves,” she said. “Maybe they would drink too much and make more problems on the street.”

William Lin, who runs Parkdale’s Best Convenience, contends just the opposite: “If we sell liquor in stores it’s okay, because people take it home and don’t drink on the street.”

No doubt his shop would be a late-night destination for the likes of P. Harris and Chaz, two Parkdale twentysomethings who, last Wednesday, were just around the corner, having rushed to the Brock Avenue LCBO to stock up before closing. They lamented the short hours. “It just doesn’t make any sense,” said Harris, as Chaz explained their plan for the evening: “Just lowly degenerate shit.”

Stowing their purchases (gin and a handful of beer) in their backpacks, the pair hopped on their bikes and rode into the night.