Beer costs too much: Ontario Tory leader

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Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives say if they win this fall’s provincial election, they would consider lowering the price of beer.
On Monday, party leader Tim Hudak left the door open to return to “a buck a beer” — or $24 per case of 24 beers.
While Hudak wouldn’t commit to the policy change, he said rising beer prices “are just one of the many things hitting Ontario families in the pocket.”
“I do hear from people who say ‘Come on, I can’t even get a buck a beer in this province thanks to Dalton McGuinty’s policies,” said Hudak.
Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan ended the $24 case in late 2008, when he asked the Liquor Control Board of Ontario to hike the minimum price to $25.60 (it has since risen to $25.95 excluding deposits for bottles). A letter released at the time showed Duncan was acceding to a demand by the brewing industry.
The change came after several smaller breweries gained an edge over the established brands by lowering their price. One of those companies, Lakeport Brewing Co., shocked the traditional beer powerhouses Labatt and Molson last decade by marketing its Honey Lager as “a buck a beer.” (Lakeport was subsequently bought by Labatt Brewery, which is in turn owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev).
At the time, Duncan and the LCBO defended the price hike by saying it would cause people to drink less.
“The concept is that if prices are low, consumption goes higher,” LCBO spokesman Chris Layton added at the time. “People buy more and drink more.”
Hudak, 43, first raised the issue of beer prices in a Super Bowl weekend news release.
When asked whether he intended to lower the minimum price he did not directly respond.
“We’ll have more to say in the time ahead about some of the ideas we are hearing from Ontario families,” he said.
Minimum beer and liquor prices in Ontario are set by the LCBO as part of its “social responsibility” mandate, established in 1993 to help guard against overindulgence.