As the marathon spring sitting of the P.E.I. legislature completes its 10th week, there is still no sign of long-promised revisions to the P.E.I. Liquor Control Act. A review aimed at modernizing the legislation and reducing red tape was announced more than a year ago. An update last November by then-Finance Minister Allen Roach indicated the review would take another six to nine months. Based on recent developments, the need for a review is getting more urgent.
It appeared things were being fast-tracked in February when newly-appointed Finance Minister Heath MacDonald took bold steps with several progressive decisions. It suggested he was taking a serious look at modernizing the act and signaling his staff to get a move on.
The first decision addressed three-year-old concerns from a Summerside barber seeking a liquor licence. That came shortly after the minister intervened to overturn a Liquor Control Commission (LCC) ruling that a health food store couldn’t sell Kombucha because of a miniscule amount of alcoholic content. Both were common sense rulings and helped illustrate the need for a comprehensive review –40 years in the making.
The latest issue deals with plans for a male stripper show at a Bloomfield bar. The establishment had all the necessary approvals and permits, but the owner decided not to proceed when some members of the public disapproved, and he didn’t want to risk losing customers.
Fair enough - until you know all the details. The application went to the LCC, which had inspectors go door-to-door in the Bloomfield area to poll residents. It is commission policy to consult neighbours when a licensed establishment, in an area where there is no municipal council, requests to hold an event involving exotic entertainment.
Shouldn’t inspectors be checking establishments for infractions of LCC rules and not waste their time going door-to-door acting as morality police? An application to host exotic entertainment should be based on regulations, not the morals of neighbouring residents. Was a canvass of the area warranted?
Anyway, based on feedback, a majority supported the application, had no problems with it or didn’t care. A minority did object and that was enough for the owner to cancel the show. To make things worse, if the bar owner changes his mind and decides to stage a show in the future, the LCC will start from scratch and go through the same time-consuming process of polling the neighbourhood and sampling current area morals.
Really? Is this a good use of taxpayers’ money?
If a bar owner wants to put on a show, shouldn’t it really be up to customers if the show proceeds, and not government or inspectors? If the rules allow for exotic entertainment – and they do -- then the LCC should butt out. The response or support from customers should decide if more shows are held in the future.
Why do governments have this need for constant intrusions, permits and red tape? LCC regulations should not govern the cleavage or crotch that patrons can view on stage.