We have all had the experience: that niggling suspicion that the bar or nightclub we’re in is watering down its booze – or maybe that the liquor coming out of the bottle isn’t of the same quality as the label would suggest. Personally I’ve only ever felt that way in questionable nightclubs, but as the decision of the General Manager of the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch in re 395047 B.C. Ltd. dba Boston Pizza makes clear, even family-friendly chain restaurants can fall into the trap of cutting corners with their liquor supply.
It’s not just retail stores and busy pubs that attract the attention of liquor inspectors and their masters at the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch. As the decision of the General Manager in re Tri-Cities Wine Kitz, case EH11-068, explains, even mild-mannered UBrew/UVins can attract the ire of the Compliance and Enforcement Program.
Alcohol & Advocacy routinely provides readers with an “insiders” look at how the liquor laws in British Columbia are written, interpreted, and applied. At A&A we often write about the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch making “decisions” and issuing licences as well as fines – this is what lawyers call “administrative law”. But what is admin law?
This past week it came to light that people were dying in a slum of Mumbai, India, from drinking “tainted” moonshine. Over 150 people are suspected of having consumed the illicit methanol-laced liquor, and at the time of writing 94 people have died. Methanol, or methyl alcohol, is a highly toxic form of alcohol (sometimes used as anti-freeze or fuel), that is often added to bootlegged liquor as an easy way to increase the alcohol content. Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, is the name of beverage-grade alcohol.
On April 23, 2015 the Supreme Court of British Columbia released its reasons in The Cambie Malone’s Corporation v. British Columbia (Liquor Control and Licensing Branch).
Government Bill 27, what will become the “new” Liquor Control and Licensing Act has been available online for almost a month now, and while the language that appears in Bill 27 will probably become law without significant revision, it is important for industry stakeholders to understand that process. Though much of the criticism and confusion surrounding the implementation of last year’s Final Report is well placed, some of it stems from the public’s lack of understanding of the legislative process. If you have serious concerns about liquor law reform in this province, now is the time to contact your MLA and engage in the political process.
This past Easter long weekend I had the pleasure of visiting a handful of wineries in Naramata, speaking to their owners, and or course sampling their products. The Naramata Bench offers a truly world class wine tasting and touring experience complete with modern facilities and stunning views of Lake Okanagan. It was fitting that on April 1, 2015 (the day before I left for wine country) the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch published its Sampling & Tasting Policy Consultation bulletin. Currently in British Columbia there is no maximum volume or quantity of free samples a winery, brewery or distillery is permitted to offer on its manufacturing site. I worry that may change.
For liquor industry insiders the start of 2015 has been marked with frequent, and sometimes confusing, communications from the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch describing recent changes to the Regulation and new policies.