Spirits

Posted January 29, 2016

Hudak pens support for Ontario distilleries to Finance Minister

Niagara – Tim Hudak, former conservative leader and Niagara West—Glanbrook MPP, this week voiced his support for Ontario’s small distillers in light of the Toronto Distillery Co.’s recently highlighted challenges with spirit sales in Ontario.

“The distillery, which distills small batches of spirits from local, organic corn, wheat, rye, juniper and beets, right now may keep less than $10 on a bottle of spirits it sells in its store for $33.50, and must send the rest to governments,” writes the National Post.

Hudak, this week, in a letter to Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa expressed his support for the expanding craft:

The Hon. Charles Sousa,
MPP Minister of Finance
7 th Floor, Frost Building South
7 Queen’s Park Crescent
Toronto, Ontario, M7A 1Y7

January 28, 2016

Dear Minister Sousa,

Last week, the National Post reported on an ongoing civil trial between a distillery based in Toronto and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). Their story quoted a lawyer acting on behalf of the LCBO as saying, “There are health risks associated with higher alcohol content which don’t exist with wine and beer.” The article went on to further quote her as saying, “Government policy does not want to proliferate distilleries.”

I was quite disturbed to read those patronizing comments, as the first is factually incorrect and the second is very concerning if true. As I am sure you know, Canada’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines, which were developed by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, make clear that standard servings of beer, wine or spirits contain the same amount of alcohol by volume.

Canadian distillers are the third largest food quality grain purchasers buying 225,000 tonnes annually. They also purchase approximately 10.5 million bushels of corn annually in the production of distilled spirits, representing 2.2 percent of total Canadian corn production. The majority of this is sourced from Ontario, making distilled spirits producers the fourth largest purchasers of corn in the province.

Furthermore, Ontario has a unique history in the crafting of high-quality distilled spirits. Spirits products contribute greatly to our economy, helping to create good jobs and driving economic activity, from the hundreds of farming families throughout Ontario who sell their grain to the distillery workers who craft internationally-recognized and awardwinning products.

Minister, as you may know, my riding of Niagara West-Glanbrook is home to two distilleries: Forty Creek Distillery in Grimsby which produces a wide variety of spirits including some of the best rye you will ever have; and Dillon’s which is a craft distiller in Beamsville that is earning rave reviews on its products including gin, Canadian whiskies, bitters and vodka. Not only do these businesses provide jobs in my riding, pull tourists off the highway and partner with Ontario farmers, they exemplify Ontario firms who have developed unique products sought by consumers across Canada and in other countries.

On December 10, 2015 I introduced Bill 157 entitled The Microdistillers Act for first reading. The Microdistillers Act is a pro-jobs, pro-agriculture and pro-consumer choice initiative. If passed it will eliminate outdated government rules such as those that prohibit a distillery from selling a drink onsite. If a winery can sell a tourist a glass of wine or a brewpub a beer, why not a mixed drink at Dillon’s that could show off local products? The Microdistillers Act would also reduce the punishing government markups faced by the industry to help them grow and hire more people.

Minister, I would enjoy meeting with you to discuss the Microdistillers Act. I think you will like it.

In the meantime, please confirm that the individual quoted in the National Post story is, in fact, gravely mistaken, and that the Government of Ontario does not incorrectly discriminate against spirits products, nor is it government policy to hold back Ontario distilleries. Quite frankly, the views expressed by the LCBO’s legal representation were paternalistic, bordering on primitive and just plain wrong. Kindly correct the record.

Sincerely

Tim Hudak MPP
Niagara West Glanbrook

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