Opposition parties brew changes to sell wine, beer
Nova Scotia's opposition leaders are calling on the NDP government to stop a fight that pits three small wine and beer kit businesses against a large government-owned monopoly.
The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation is trying to shut down three so-called U-Vint operations that allow customers to ferment wine or brew beer on their premises.
It served the embattled stores an injunction, but the court hearing has been delayed.
Taxpayers profit when the NSLC does well, but many people in Nova Scotia have come out in support of the U-Vint stores, including the leader of the Official Opposition.
"I think we should be applauding, quite frankly, the entrepreneurial spirit of these men and women who see an opportunity to be able to grow a business, provide a service to you and me that we want to buy and go forward," said Stephen McNeil.
The Liberals have tried five times to legalize on-site brewing, but neither the governing NDP or the previous Progressive Conservative Party showed an interest.
Now the Tories are reconsidering.
"It's just another example of how small businesses providing a necessary service are being squashed by ridiculous regulation," said PC Leader Jamie Baillie.
The new leader said he is even willing to look at selling beer and wine in groceries and corner stores.
"Look, I think it's time to look at new ways of doing things. There are lots of people that defend the old way. I'm not one of them," said Baillie.
"It doesn't strike me as necessary that you can only go to the government stores to buy the product," said NSLC customer Andy Thurber.
But breaking the liquor corporation's control on alcohol isn't universally embraced.
"I find this more regulated. They can check your IDs to make sure that everyone that's purchasing is of age and that there's no underage drinking," said customer Jennifer Delorey.
Meanwhile Darrell Dexter's party said it's not planning to intervene in the fight between the NSLC and the wine kit stores, nor is it planning to change the way Nova Scotia sells alcohol.
The crown corporation is exercising new powers granted by the NDP in 2011. They allow the NSLC to get a court order to stop violations of provincial liquor laws.