During this past provincial election, the Progressive Conservative Party revealed very little about their platform, but they did promise Ontarians “buck-a-beer”.

Earlier this month, they moved towards keeping that promise, lowering the minimum allowable price for a can of beer and issuing a challenge to brewers to lower their prices. The trade-off wasn’t tax breaks or subsidies. It was merely better shelf space.

While multinational corporations have yet to weigh in, many of Ontario’s independent brewers have said the buck stops here.

Most say that they will not be participating in this scheme, citing a number of reasons why this is a horrible idea. Local independent breweries have built relationships with their suppliers, workers and customers that they see as having a value above this bottom-of-the-barrel policy.

Local value-added

There is value in the independent brewery that the Ontario government is either unable to see or are willfully trying to destroy.

The brewing industry supports local jobs, farmers and keeps more money in Ontario’s communities. These breweries are also contributing to the building of community, such as the case with Muskoka Brewery providing a living wage that allows families to grow in their communities, both through economic investment and community involvement.

Several of these independent breweries – including London’s – have created a space where people can get together to build community.

A new community

The changes in the beer industry are bringing people together in a way we haven’t seen since the traditional public house of old. Here in London alone, Anderson Ales hosts a running group, London Brewing Co-op has played host to euchre, trivia and community bike events and both these breweries, along with Forked River and Toboggan, have given musicians a place to share their craft.

Storm Stayed Brewery has responded to the “Buck a Beer” promise by stating they will not lower prices but they will donate a portion of sales of certain beers to Anova. All of these breweries are making London and the surrounding community better.

There is value in that.

As many Londoners who attended last weekend’s Beerfest can attest, Ontario breweries are creating some amazing products – easily competitive with anything else on the Global market.

Buck-a-beer was never something the Ford government could promise without becoming the socialist, price-fixers they have demonized.  The aim all along seems to be disrupt small business and give a hand out to corporate conglomerates.

I hope beer drinkers buck this trend, cause something wonderful is brewing here.


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