Saturday, July 14, 2012

CAMRA BC Speaks Out on LDB Privatization - Time For Craft Beer Consumers to be Heard

Disclaimer: For those who do not know, I am the current president of CAMRA Vancouver. I write this blog as myself and the opinions voiced here on VanEast Beer Blog are mine, not those of CAMRA BC, CAMRA Vancouver or another organization

In case you missed it, last week the Campaign for Real Ale of British Columbia (CAMRA BC) spoke out publicly against the current Liberal Government plans to sell off the province's liquor distribution warehouses and warehouse distribution system to the private sector, joining groups like the Alliance of Beverage Licensees of BC, the BC Government Employees Union and The Craft Brewer's Guild of BC and the NDP Party of BC in voicing their dissent.

In an email to Rich Coleman (see below) and many other major players in the current privatization process, CAMRA BC, a craft beer consumer advocacy group, voiced displeasure about the fact the the Liberals have not been able to guarantee that the privatization plans will not negatively impact the access to locally brewed craft beer or that alcohol prices will not increase for the craft beer consumers of BC. They also point to the absence of consultation with the private and public sectors of the province and to the fact that the Liberals have not produced a business case or cost-effect analysis to support their privatization plans.

The email came one day before NDP Alcohol Critic Shane Simpson dropped a bombshell by releasing documents showing the BC Liberals had no current plans to privatize before being approached last summer by Exel Logistics, who made a pitch to take over the province's alcohol distribution which they had been pursuing for years. For excellent coverage of the whole affair check out Bob Mackins blog 2010 Goldrush #LiquorLeaks.

I hope the CAMRA BC (CAMRA Victoria, CAMRA Vancouver, CAMRA Fraser Valley) membership at large pick up on the cue that it is time to start voicing their dissent individually as well. It is all well and good when organizations speak out as a whole, but the voice becomes much louder when the individuals who make up the membership of these organizations take it upon themselves to make some noise themselves.

One email from CAMRA BC to Rich Coleman, et al, is essential. One thousand emails from CAMRA BC members will have Coleman and all involved sitting up and taking notice as each voice of dissent is a vote and in politics that is what counts.

This whole affair has the same stink to it that the HST did when the BC Liberals did another about face about face, changing their position from "no HST" prior to the 2011 election to announcing implementation of the since shot-down tax shortly after being voted back in.

Maybe it is time for an another HST-type, grassroots revolt here in BC to show the Liberals once and for all, we will not tolerate being lied to and deceived. The necessary emails are all below for anyone who feels it is important to speak out in order to try to stop this process until the government provides some evidence the move is good for British Columbians and determine that this is indeed what the citizens of BC want.

Democracy only works if there is participation from the masses.
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
Cc: <>,, <> 

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, Vancouver Branch - CAMRA BC


  1. I'm not comfortable with CAMRA supporting the sell off of publically owned assets to a private company that is the only bidder. I prefer to keep the liquor distribution business in public hands along with the decent unionized jobs. We know if it is sold that a private company will immediately increase costs and reduce wages to increase their almighty profit!

  2. I appreciate your feedback and I can tell you CAMRA BC will not support any move that will negatively impact the consumers of BC.
    No where in the letter to Mr Coleman does it say CAMRA BC supports the sell-off of publicly owned assets to a private company that is the only bidder or does CAMRA BC support the loss of decent union jobs.

    It does say CAMRA BC would publicly support the move if the government can produce objective data and evidence this move is beneficial to consumers and if they can get both the liquor industry and the general public on board with the plan. Those things are not going to happen because the government cannot produce objective data and evidence because it is not a move that is beneficial and this data and evidence does not exist. They will also never get the liquor industry or the general public supporting this move because it is becoming clear that no one except Excel Logistics and the BC Liberals want this move.