Canada in brief: March 2, 2011

Ontario proposes changes to liquor laws

The McGuinty government has proposed an update on the existing liquor laws that would see a removal of restrictions on special events, festivals and licensed establishments.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty suggested that people attending festivals should not be restricted to beer tents but be allowed to walk around the grounds freely with their drinks, including within festival retail booths.

At special events, the proposal notes that liquor should be served until 2 a.m. instead of 1 a.m. to be consistent with licensed establishments.

Additionally, McGuinty suggested that Ontario establishments should be allowed
to sell all-inclusive vacation packages.

In a press release from the provincial government, Chris Bentley, attorney general, explained that the existing liquor restrictions are “outdated and they just don’t make sense.”

The aim in modernizing the province’s liquor laws is to improve tourism and local economies.

Michael Chan, minister of tourism and culture, explained, “Festivals and events are powerful economic drivers … We are making it easier for festival and event organizers to attract new audiences, and create more jobs while providing a more enjoyable experience for Ontarians.”

According to the provincial government, Ontario festivals generate 22,000 jobs annually.

Tourism also contributes more than $22 billion annually to the province’s economy.

—Compiled by Nicole Green

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