Private contractor assailed for failing to keep up with oil boom demand for alcohol supplies
Edmonton (16 August 2006) - How is liquor privatization working out in Alberta?
Not too well at the moment, despite all the effort expended over the years by the Klein government and its business friends to hype privatization as a success.
It's fairly well documented that liquor privatization has often led to higher retail and wholesale prices, a widespread decrease in choice despite a big increase in the number of outlets, an increase in social and policing costs and the spread of chains operators across enterprises that were forecast to be primarily mom-and-pop operations.
Now the Edmonton Sun, a noisy booster of privatizing just about everything, is complaining about problems with the private contractor that the provincial Tories are using to deliver liquor supplies to all the private outlets across the province.
Things are so bad that the newspaper is demanding that "the government" step in to fix the problem.
"They say there's nothing so lonesome, morbid or dreary than being in a pub with no beer. But what about a province with no booze?" the Sun asks.
"That was the grim reality that many liquor retailers, bars and restaurants faced last weekend as the Alberta Tories' liquor distribution system apparently failed. Many experienced short orders and even shorter tempers, with some liquor outlets even threatening lawsuits."
At the centre of the controversy is "the private-sector operator of the warehouse/distribution system" used to deliver booze across Alberta - a company called Connect Logistics.
"But rather than cracking the whip and demanding that the company live up to its contract obligations no matter how it hurts its bottom line, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission appeared to be making excuses for the company," the paper laments.
Liquor sales are rising in the province, thanks to the Alberta oil boom and a huge influx of people to the province, and the company has failed to keep up with the pace, it adds.
"If Connect Logistics is unable to fulfill the terms of its contract to the satisfaction of retailers, then it should no longer be involved in liquor distribution in Alberta. That's how the free enterprise system is supposed to work."
The company claims that the backlog in orders and deliveries will be cleared up soon. "We apologize for all of your inconvenience and thank you for your patience as we work through this together," the company says. NUPGE
Alberta is paying dearly for liquor privatization