"It is very telling that this bill was brought forward by the Minister of Business, not the Minister Responsible for the Liquor Control Act.” — Joan Jessome, NSGEU President
Halifax (27 Nov. 2015) — The President of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, Joan Jessome is questioning the government’s real motive in bringing forward changes to the Liquor Control Act.
Government legislation drafted in secret, opens door to privatization
“What Bill 134 proposes is to remove the sale of liquor from the current legislative framework that protects our communities and hide these decisions behind the closed doors of Cabinet far away from public scrutiny and accountability," Jessome said.
Jessome noted that the changes in the bill will permit the sale at licensed premises of liquor for consumption away from the premises as authorized by the regulations made by the Governor-in-Council. “In so doing, it is taking future changes to the Liquor Control Act out of the hands of the Legislature, where all viewpoints of Nova Scotians can be considered."
“Currently, if any government wants to make changes like the ones proposed, it has to be done in the Legislature where there are three opportunities to debate bills as well as the hearings of the Law Amendments Committee where every Nova Scotian has an opportunity to speak."
Liberals reneging on election promise to keep liquor sales public
The Liberals ran for election in 2013 on a campaign promise that said, “A Liberal government will not privatize or sell off the NSLC, nor will we change the manner in which alcohol is regulated in Nova Scotia.”
Jessome wonders, “Where is that commitment now? This bill could drastically change the way alcohol is regulated as well as how such decisions are made in the future. Worse still, they just want us all to accept that these decisions are best made behind closed doors? I don’t think so.”
Minister of Business proposes change to liquor legislation, a short-term cash grab by government?
“We first heard of this through the media, and we have also heard that the NSLC was surprised as we were," continued Jessome. "I am left to wonder who was actually consulted on this legislation. It is very telling that this bill was brought forward by the Minister of Business, not the Minister Responsible for the Liquor Control Act.”
“This is a very slippery slope, and I ask that this plan be shelved until all stakeholders across Nova Scotia can be consulted,” concluded Jessome.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE