PCs would allow beer and wine to be sold in more locations throughout Ontario, Ford says

Ford says he would expand sales to corner stores and box stores.

Ford also wants to level the playing field for craft brewers in the province

The Progressive Conservatives said in a statement that 'alcohol reform is something long desired by the people of Ontario.' (David Donnelly/CBC)

Doug Ford says if elected premier he would allow beer, wine, cider and coolers to be sold in corner stores.

In the announcement, which he made a day before a long weekend, the Progressive Conservative leader says Ontario is mature enough for this change.

The Liberal government expanded alcohol sales in recent years, with more than 200 grocery stores authorized to sell beer and cider, and another 70 allowed to sell wine.

Under their plan, up to 450 grocery stores will sell beer and cider, including 300 also selling wine, but the Liberals haven't supported expanding sales to other retail outlets.

Ford says he would expand sales to corner stores and box stores.

"As we approach the Victoria Day weekend, it is time to acknowledge that Ontario is mature enough for this change and ready to join other jurisdictions in making life a little more convenient," Ford said in a statement.

He says he would implement the policy as soon as possible, allowing any of those outlets to sell the beverages as long as they meet requirements from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

"The LCBO will continue to play an important role in wholesale and distribution and will remain one of various locations for the people of Ontario to buy their beer, wine and spirits," the statement said. 

In their own statement, the Liberals said Ford's announcement was intended to distract from the controversy surrounding the former PC candidate in Brampton East. Simmer Sandhu resigned his candidacy on Wednesday, just hours after his former employer revealed it was probing a data theft that affected some 60,000 customers. 

York Regional Police said Friday that it's major fraud unit is investigating the stolen data. 

"A month ago, Doug Ford wanted to let marijuana be sold in corner stores. Today, he wants these same stores to sell beer and wine but has no plan to safeguard against the casual sale to underage teens," the Liberal statement said. 

Selling beer in corner stores was first promised by the Liberal government of David Peterson more than 30 years ago. When he introduced the bill — which was defeated in a minority parliament — the reasoning was partly to increase convenience, partly to help small businesses and partly to assist the Ontario wine industry in the pre-free trade era.

With files from CBC News