Justice Minister Suzanne Anton has declared that B.C. liquor producers will be able to sell booze, wine, cider, and spirits at farmers markets.
Naturally, the news has been welcomed by the B.C. Association of Farmers' Markets. It's probably also being cheered in the premier's constituency of Westside-Kelowna, which is a centre of B.C.'s wine industry.
Today, Anton showed up to make the announcement at a Vancouver farmers market with John Yap, parliamentary secretary for liquor policy reform, and Vancouver-Quilchena MLA Andrew Wilkinson, who's the minister of technology, innovation and citizens' services.
Given the size of B.C.'s wine and growing craft-beer industries, there will likely be lineups of liquor-sector entrepreneurs wanting to rent stalls at these markets. (This link provides more information about how stalls are currently allocated at Vancouver Farmers Markets.)
This announcement comes shortly after the B.C. government set minimum prices for alcoholic beverages, opening the door to the return of Happy Hour in bars across the province.
"Allowing licensees, such as pubs, restaurants and lounges, to alter their liquor prices throughout the course of the day is a pocket-book friendly change for British Columbians that will help the industry attract customers at times when business may typically be slow," the government stated in a news release trumpeting the change.
So why all the booze announcements over the past 24 hours?
That's easy to explain.
The B.C. Liberal government needed to shift attention away from its decision late Friday (June 20) to capitulate to the B.C. Teachers' Federation's request for mediation to try to end the teachers strike.
The BCTF had clearly put Education Minister Peter Fassbender in a corner after he had at first refused to agree to this.
From the teachers' perspective, it was checkmate as far as winning the war for public opinion. That's because it appeared that teachers wanted to settle but the bad old government was up to its old tricks in trying to provoke more labour unrest in the education sector.
No doubt, the premier's spin doctors were huddled in a room trying to figure out what good-news announcements could be rolled out on a Friday and a Saturday to get the media to cover any story other than the one involving teachers. It's no surprise they settled on booze.
Anytime there's a loosening of liquor policies, there's no shortage of businesspeople and average Joes ready to go on the TV news to laud the changes.
It makes it sound as though the politicians in charge are listening to the public.
Whether B.C. Liberal politicians are listening to the public with regard to the teachers strike, however, remains an open question.