Red Tape? More, not less is sometimes the answer

Who needs red tape, eh?

FASDPosterFinalIt’s so bothersome….  like when it involves public safety.  That’s why we elect governments that are so keen on deregulation, like the BC Liberals who are currently in the process of deregulating liquor sales, closing government stores and shifting sales to the private sector.

Here’s how good that old red tape reduction has been in Canada…

“viewed from a public-safety perspective, the (deregulation) model is much more problematic. It results in a dramatic reduction in regulators’ first-hand knowledge of what is actually happening at the firms whose practices they are supposed to be overseeing on behalf of the public. This invites serious risks that unsafe operating practices will not be identified and addressed until a major incident occurs. The food-contamination episode at the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta., last summer, and now the Lac-Mégantic disaster, stand out as examples of these problems.”

That’s from the Globe, who just seem to have woken up to some of the small problems associated with thirty years of deregulation.  But it sounds so sexy to pop off those little red tape items:  like shooting the teddy bears at the fair as your boyfriend grips your arm a little harder each time that pop gun goes off.

But let’s get real.  People dead?  A town destroyed?  Isn’t that just a bit too high a price to pay to make it easier for the private sector to make more money?

So let’s move on to another place where it really hurts: liquor sales.

BC is getting ready to shovel the piles of money into the hands of grocery stores and other large industry players while raising the cost to the health care and policing systems, not to mention dealing another blow to small businesses who mistakenly believe they can compete with Mr. Loblaw in a deregulated market.

Look who pays the bills over at BC Lib Inc.  You just know that the real money will be made by Sobeys and the other big operators, not the mom and pop operators who will get those 12:15 AM sales to the “are they 19 or just 18?  Geez, I haven’t made a dime all day… that means 19 for now…” group.

That’s just not enough to stay alive against the mega discounters.  Have you bought vodka at a US Costco lately?  At their price point you can stay drunk all the time. That’s tough to compete against.

More importantly, that’s not the only problem.  The fact is that there are no regulatory changes that will keep the costs down for the average taxpayer.  The real story is that in many other jurisdictions that got rid of government red tape and privatized liquor sales, revenues went down and costs went up on the government side.  More importantly, very expensive social problems like FASD increased.

FASD does not come cheap, especially when it remains untreated.  BC will be no exception.  As some liquor gets cheaper, opening hours increase, limits are forgotten by “amateur regulators”, enormous social problems linked to alcohol increased in many jurisdictions that deregulated and privatized liquor in North America.

Eliminating red tape sounds so sexy.  At the end of the day it has cost quality of life and taxpayer’s money far beyond the estimates.   Our governments lied to us when they tried to spin red tape removal as a good thing, particularly when it comes to liquor.

This isn’t just a belief.  Many of us have direct experience with these problems.  Extended bar hours increased alcohol consumption for too many.  FASD is one result.  There is no worse addiction and a kid in the womb can’t be blamed for his exposure to this one.

This is not about individual responsibility.  It’s about a society that thinks it can get cheap and easy liquor without the associated problems.  And it is wrong.


It’s been a long time.  But I’ve been pretty sick and haven’t been able to put digits to the pedal.  I’m hoping to get some more work in so here’s crossing my fingers.  I really miss it and there is so much to write about.

For example do you really think the Mayor of Toronto should be… you know… Mayor?  And coaching troubled kids.  Hey, we’re just getting shit faced…




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17 Responses to Red Tape? More, not less is sometimes the answer

  1. Kim says:

    Hi Ian! So happy you are back!

    It seems our Government is hooked on booze and gambling. Time for an intervention.

  2. GuyinVic says:

    It’s too bad the ordinary citizen ( that is someone other than a politician ) doesn’t have the privilege of using ” I’m sorry…… or I made a mistake…. or this one… I have not been completely honest “…. when he or she has broken the law.

    Maybe we should try it….. and if the judge doesn’t accept it…. file a racist complaint for not treating the ordinary citizen the same way as a politician.


    Glad to see your back.

  3. Dudley says:

    Great to see you writing again. The Libs are just getting rid of the union employees, under the guise of responding to public wishes.

  4. Regular Reader says:

    Ditto Kim!

  5. Paul Willcocks says:

    Anti-regulation people should come and visit Honduras. Today, there is a news story about a 220-home townhouse development outside the capital that is literally falling down around the devastated homeowners. Shoddy construction, built on a landslide-prone slope on top of small lakes the developer just filled in with dirt.

  6. Merv Adey says:

    “Government hooked on booze and gambling” indeed…and the point man for the PR effort on booze was tarnished in the Quickwins scandal which I trust is not over if the RCMP do their jobs…I refer of course to Mr. Yap. I find it offensive that post election he is trotted out as a lead spokesman for anything except contrition. Just me.

    Good to see you post Ian. I’m one of many who have been thinking of you often.

  7. RS says:

    Thanks for this Ian. Happy to find a new post here this morning. Looking forward to more of your sage commentary.

    Also looking forward to hearing how Clark spins this into her trite “It’s good for families!” mantra.

  8. Dawn Black says:

    Succinct and sensible as usual Ian. Good to hear your voice again!

  9. kootcoot says:

    Excellent points Ian and like your other readers, I am happy to see you back with things to say. I certainly wish you some more days to share your wisdom and enjoy what you can.

    Paul (comment above) has a good post at his place about the Honduran pile of crap.

  10. Dan says:

    A welcome return, Ian, and may there be many more. Yap should be returned to the scrapheap of discarded politicians. The people who the most loudly decry regulation are loathe to acknowledge that such evils are there because of past misdeeds, usually perpetrated by themselves or others of their ilk. The misuse of freedom leads to curbs. The sad part is that we all pay the price.

  11. luigi says:

    As stated above, it was great to come here today and see your article.

    Rob Ford: “Hey my fellow Torontonians, just heard BC has opened up booze sales everywhere. Gimme a semi…..Road Trip!!!!!”

  12. Ian – thanks for this and very good to see your strong voice back! Long may you run – and rail against the bastards!

  13. Persey says:

    Just another reader thankful you are back. The best to you.

    And you’re right — there is so much to write about (and most others won’t write it!)

  14. raven says:

    The world need more Ian.

    Your heart lifts anyone who read your words. I humbly offer this quote to describe your particular, and rare humanity Mr. Reid:

    “There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion”

    Carl Gustav Jung

  15. Kenn McLaren says:

    hi and thanks Ian;
    like a friend of mine said back when he was a lawyer: the real cost of alcohol in society is far greater than we think.
    good to hear from you again,

  16. e.a.f. says:

    it has been a long time since the end of Aug. Thank you for finding the strength to write again! The article is excellent. We don’t need more access to liquor. WE have enough. There are government liquor stores, over counter sales and beer and wine stores. That is enough. What type of message do we send to put liquor at gas stations.

    Rob Ford is sick. He has a disease. It is called alcholism. Yes, the jokes were funny and we all laughed but the media feeding frenze should be over. There are more serious problems in the country. If Rob Ford had broken his leg, had a heart attack, had cancer, none of this attention would have been paid. Part of alcholism frequently is, bad behaviour. The press hounding him everywhere he goes isn’t helping him, the citizens of Toronto. I actually feel sorry for him.

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