B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan condemns rising beer prices

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      For months, Attorney General Suzanne Anton has been claiming that most wines, spirits, and beers would cost the same or are lower under a new wholesale-pricing model.

      But today, NDP Leader John Horgan called that another broken promise, pointing to numerous beer-price hikes.

      And Horgan's liquor-policy critic, David Eby, has claimed that nearly 90 percent of beer listings have gone up significantly since March 31.

      According to the NDP, 74 beer products are up more than 10 percent. Another 123 beer products are up five to 10 percent. And 219 beer products are up from one to five percent.

      Examples from the NDP politicians include:

      • Phillip Brewery Octofox: up 10.67 percent.

      • Six-pack of Bomber Brewing ESB: up 9.21 percent.

       • Cannery Brewing Blackberry Porter: up 20.13 percent.

      • Tree Brewery Thirsty Beaver: up 16.84 percent.

      Eby claimed that only 19 beers remained at the same price and eight percent of products are cheaper—primarily those from outside the province, such as Budweiser and Coors Light.

      “The Attorney General’s promise that government could increase wholesale prices for retailers but that the retail price wouldn’t go up was always nonsense," Eby said in a party news release. "British Columbia’s craft beer industry and beer fans generally are drinking a bitter brew of higher prices because of this government’s stealth beer tax.”

      NDP MLA David Eby has been a tenacious critic on liquor-policy issues.

      The NDP news release came a day after Anton attended the official opening of Red Truck Beer Company's brewery and Truck Stop Diner on East 1st Avenue in Vancouver.

      There, she talked about the growth of the craft-brewing sector, noting the number of breweries in Vancouver has doubled to 26 in just over two years.

      "There are so many people who've benefited from the changes that we are making—things like opening up farmers markets to liquor sales," Anton said at the event.

      Justice Minister Suzanne Anton has tried to portray herself as a friend of craft brewers.
      Charlie Smith

      She also cited the government's regulatory change permitting breweries to have on-site lounges where customers can enjoy a full brew rather than just a sample.

      In addition, Anton praised the new "graduated scale for the wholesale-pricing markup for breweries". She said that this eliminated "cliffs" that breweries faced in pricing when they increased production past a certain point.

      She even suggested that a "quality-assurance program" might be created for craft breweries similar to the VQA program that exists for B.C. wines.

      "Industry consultation will be an important part of the conversation," Anton promised.

      Horgan, however, likened the rise in beer prices to hikes in hydro rates, ferry fares, medical-service premiums, ICBC levies, and park fees.

      "The first thing Attorney General Suzanne Anton said when she changed the liquor-price system was to promise that retail beer prices wouldn’t go up," Horgan stated. "With her track record, that was pretty much a guarantee prices would go up—and just two months later they have.”



      Ian Spence

      Jun 4, 2015 at 2:34pm

      Serves us right, we elected these under-qualified idiots into power. Now we have a talk show host running a province of millions of people.

      Bill smith

      Jun 4, 2015 at 2:58pm

      As usual the BC Liberals ONLY look after big business and don't give a darn about anyone else, bottom line, it's all about donating to the reelection fund! The same applies with the minimum pricing of beer. It only screws the small business that try to compete with the Boston pizzas, Earls, White Spots ect by offering cheaper beer at certain times of the day!

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      Jun 4, 2015 at 3:35pm

      Gee, John. I wish you and your party would also weigh-in on the affordable housing crisis in many parts of the province. What is your party's POLICY on this issue. Your party used to have all the ingredients of a good ale, but has lost its fizz and taste lately. What gives?


      Jun 4, 2015 at 4:40pm

      For once the Liberals have done something right. By making beer more expensive, more consumers will switch to cannabis, which, in turn, will make our society less violent and will save taxpayers a lot of money in alcohol-related costs, such as court costs, health care costs, enforcement costs, and lost productivity in the workplace. The single most important factor in creating a peaceful, civil society is an alcohol consumption reduction strategy. Horgan's comments show why we still need a Marijuana Party.

      Steve y

      Jun 4, 2015 at 10:29pm

      This is rich coming from the ndp. When they get elected they will promptly give everyone working for government liquor stores huge raises and probably double the price of beer.


      Jun 5, 2015 at 12:26am

      In the NDP world, nothing should ever change. Everything should stay the same... always.

      It's a party of senior citizens afraid of change.

      Some prices went down, most stayed exactly the same, some prices went up...

      Martin Dunphy

      Jun 5, 2015 at 1:07am


      More than 400 beer products, almost 90 percent, went up, according to David Eby. And you say "most stayed exactly the same". If you have a source for that info, please share.

      Sgt Transom

      Jun 5, 2015 at 7:10am

      I don't have any proof for this, but I'm willing to bet that Big Beer lobbied the crap out of the Liberals and perhaps even used threats. It's possible of course that they offered huge donations, and those will show up at the next election. It seems eerily similar to the NRA putting pressure on the Canadian government (both Libs and Cons) to do away with the Long Gun Registry.

      It's no secret that although Big Beer still holds a substantial portion of the market in BC (don't forget that we are a province of rednecks), Craft Beer has been making alarmingly fast inroads into the blue collar sector, which usually goes for cheap swill with mild flavours, to allow for binge drinking. Big Beer had been trying to nudge it's way into the craft market, but you can't make complex beers in such huge quantities.

      I can see two things happening: Either the increasing number of beer lovers will put tremendous pressure on the government to reverse the increases, or they'll just knuckle under, have another drink and forget about it. One thing for sure is that David Eby has proven himself capable of paying attention and he should be given a higher level portfolio.


      Jun 5, 2015 at 9:11am

      Martin: the NDP provided a handout but don't actually expect anyone to look at it. A lot of beer (the 90%) went up by nickels and dimes... seriously.

      Sgt Transom

      Jun 5, 2015 at 12:06pm

      PS - I don't think this was merely a tax grab because Big Beer accounts for at least 85% of beer sales in BC, and their prices didn't go up. A 'tax grab' would be more effective if all beer went up. I truly think it was pressure from the big breweries that created this.