Ontario considers loosening liquor laws

Ontario is looking at changing its liquor laws, including doing away with beer tents at festivals and extending the hours special events can serve alcohol.
Ontario's Liberal government says it will start consultations on a number of changes to the province's liquor laws, including doing away with beer tents at festivals. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press) (Canadian Press )

Ontario is looking at relaxing the province's liquor laws, which could spell the demise of beer tents at festivals in favour of allowing people to wander freely with drinks.

Attorney General Chris Bentley is planning consultations on a number of other changes as well, such as extending the hours booze can be served at special events like weddings and charity fundraisers to 2 a.m. from 1 a.m.

Under the proposed new rules, all-inclusive vacation packages could also be sold in Ontario.

"Our plan is to get rid of outdated restrictions that just don't make sense to Ontario families today," Bentley said in a Wednesday release.

"Having a beer in your hand shouldn't stop you from walking around a local festival."

The move comes just a few weeks after Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak mused about missing the days of buck-a-bottle beer, last seen in 2008.

Premier Dalton McGuinty dismissed it as "a bright, shiny object" designed to distract voters from more important issues like jobs and the economy.

The government argued Wednesday the liquor law changes will make it easier for festivals and event organizers, vineyards, spas, restaurants and bars to attract new patrons and create more jobs.

Bentley said the government also plans to expand enforcement against those who break the law, including fines.