Wednesday, July 11, 2012

#LiquorLeaks reveals another LDB privatization foe

Is it beyond the tipping point yet? 

I'm referring to the controversy over the B.C. Liberals' rush to privatize the Liquor Distribution Branch's warehousing and distribution -- without a business plan or cost-benefit analysis (I've tried hard to get one, but it either doesn't exist or is a #hiddenplan) and without any formal industry consultation. 

Prominent B.C. Liberals have a too-close-for-comfort connection with the leading bidder, Exel Logistics. Exel is the subsidiary of German giant Deutsche Post DHL and owns the private Alberta monopoly Connect Logistics. Exel has used the services of B.C. Liberal lobbyists Mark Jiles and Patrick Kinsella for seven years, since John Les was the liquor minister. In Exel's own words, in an Oct. 6, 2009 internal "Project Last Spike" memo, the company contemplated using its relationship with liquor minister Rich Coleman to influence the writing of the request for proposals.

Now the Campaign for Real Ale of British Columbia, part of an international network of beer aficionados, has joined the chorus of those seeking to postpone or cancel the privatization. On July 11, CAMRA sent the following letter to Coleman, finance minister Kevin Falcon, citizens' services minister Margaret MacDiarmid, fairness monitor George Macauley and Roger Bissoondatt, the acting general manager and chief financial officer of LDB. 

From: CAMRA President <> Date: Wed, Jul 11, 2012 at 5:38 PM  Subject: Campaign for Real Ale of British Columbia position LDB Distribution Warehouse Privatization
To: rich.coleman.mla@leg.bc.caCc: <>,, <> 

Dear Mr Coleman   
I am writing you this letter on behalf of the Campaign for Real Ale of British Columbia (CAMRA BC), a craft beer consumer advocacy group who represent more than 1000 individual and 100 corporate members here in British Columbia and of which I am the Vancouver Branch President and member of the BC Executive.  
Since the announcement of the BC Liberal Government’s plan to sell off the Liquor Distribution Branch’s warehouses and with them the province’s warehouse distribution system, many groups have come out against the plan, including the opposition NDP Party, Alliance of Beverage Licensees of BC, the BC Government Employee’s Union and the Craft Brewer’s Guild of BC.   
There have been complaints of the complete absence of consultation with BC’s liquor industry or the general public, and the lack of guarantees that this privatization plan will not negatively impact the alcohol industry and alcohol consumers of this province.   
It is now our turn, the craft beer consumers of BC, to voice our dissent due in large part to  the lack of information as to how this privatization will affect the craft beer industry and craft beer consumers and because the current government cannot guarantee 100 percent that this privatization deal, when completed and implemented, will not have a negative impact on the craft beer consumers of BC.   
No business case has been presented. A clear cost-effect analysis should be completed and presented to both the liquor industry and general public in order to clarify exactly how privatization will affect liquor prices before this process goes any further.   
No study has been done and no guarantees have been made as to whether privatization will affect access to BC-brewed beers from local, craft breweries.  
At the moment, the Provincial Government has a mandate to make these beers accessible, but will this continue after privatization?   
In short, CAMRA BC cannot currently support this privatization plan and will continue to voice dissent until the following steps are taken:
  1. Conduct a study to provide objective data showing how this move will impact the craft beer consumers of BC  
  1. Make public a business case and/or cost-effect analysis
  1. Have a full and meaningful consultation with both the private and public sectors of the province in regards to the planned sale and privatization of the Liquor Distribution Branch's warehouses and warehouse distribution system  
If, after those steps have been taken and it is shown that this privatization plan will not negatively impact the craft beer consumers of BC, CAMRA BC will be willing to support this move publicly on behalf of our membership. Thank you for your time. 
--Paddy Treavor  
President CAMRA BC
Vancouver Branch

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