Iqaluit beer and wine store 'still being considered' 10 months after plebiscite

The idea of opening a beer and wine store in Iqaluit is 'still being considered,' says Finance Minister Keith Peterson, ten months after residents voted for it.

Peterson says a beer and wine store could 'offset binge drinking,' but government is still not ready to move

After a task force recommended it, the public debated it and 77 per cent of voters in Iqaluit were in favour of it, Finance Minister Keith Peterson says the cabinet is still considering how to go about opening a beer and wine store in Nunavut's capital. 

During the last sitting of the Legislative Assembly in October, Peterson told MLAs the government needs "to put programs and policies in place" before proceeding with the beer and wine store. 

Now four months later, Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu MLA Pat Angnakak looked for the finance department to indicate when it will be ready to move. 

"As I recall, the idea behind opening a beer and wine store was part of the final report of the minister's own task force to review the liquor act," said Angnakak. 

"That report identified binge drinking, especially binge drinking in hard liquor, as the greatest threat to people's health and the cause of related social problems."

She then asked Peterson to identify, given the results of the April plebiscite, who is opposing movement on the file. 

"We live in a democratic country and a democratic territory, so we have to listen to both sides," he replied. "There are people who are quite concerned... that alcohol has been bad for Nunavut."

Peterson went on to say the government believes "through the task force and all the consultations that opening a beer and wine store would offset binge drinking, would reduce profits to bootleggers."

But he would not provide any timeline for when such a store might be opened.