Opinion » Maxed Out

Did we say something?... yes, in fact we did


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I need a drink. No, I need two drinks. Let me tell you why.

Contrary to popular belief, Charles Wilson, Dwight Eisenhower's nomination for U.S. Secretary of Defense in 1953, never said, "What's good for General Motors is good for the country." But popular belief is a hard sucker to shake and nine out of 10 people who are even vaguely familiar with the subject are convinced that's what he said. In the intervening years, even he began to accept that's what he said.

What he really said was, "for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors, and vice versa." Nuance has never been an impediment to popular belief.

Frankly, I prefer the misquote. It's a scathing indictment of the corporate mindset that knows no interest other than self-interest.

And self-interest, at least among the bar and restaurant owners in Whistler, is what seems to be the only interest driving the RMOW's proposed recommendations to the provincial Parliamentary Secretary on liquor policy reform. Whatever you think should be reformed and whatever I think should be reformed doesn't mean squat unless you or I own a bar or restaurant. I don't. If you do could you spot me a drink?

Now there are several things about this situation that, how should I put it, really piss me off. The first is our mayor's and council's seemingly total abdication of responsibility for formulating municipal policy to the unbridled self-interest of the local business community. The second is their total indifference to the expressed wishes of a large portion of, apparently, the nobodies who make up this community — a point I'll explain later. And the third is the seeming arrogance that creeps into elected bodies at some point in their tenure when they completely forget or actively refuse to dance with the ones who brung them... the people who elected them to office in the first place.

Wow, I feel better already.

OK, let's refresh our memories. The B.C. government is in the process of reviewing provincial liquor laws. They want to "modernize" them with the goal of, "...identify(ing) balanced, common-sense solutions that improve consumer convenience and grow B.C.'s economy, while ensuring public health and safety." I will refrain from commenting on the depth of the well of common sense in Victoria, difficult as that is.

The RMOW "engaged community stakeholders to identify issues, challenges, opportunities and potential solutions with respect to liquor licensing, sales, service and consumption in Whistler," to help cobble together its official submission to the province.

The "stakeholders" engaged by the RMOW were members of the Liquor License Advisory Committee (LLAC). It is largely comprised of owners and managers of the town's bars, nightclubs, restaurants and hotels. It also includes the RCMP, Fire Department, Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) and Tourism Whistler.

The submissions from members of the LLAC read like letters to Santa Claus written by five year olds. They want what they want and what they want is, in the immortal words of Samuel Gompers, more. More for themselves. More freedom to serve more liquor to more people under more circumstances than there are things in heaven and earth, Horatio.

There's nothing wrong with that. I fully expect local businesses want to do more business. I support local businesses doing more business. I go out of my way to shop at local businesses and I vastly prefer to drink at local bars if for no other reason than the taxi fare is more affordable when it's time to go home.

What I don't expect is for my local government to base its entire policy position on the wish list and self-interest of local business. Hello, there are people living here. People who have their own wish list when it comes to B.C.'s liquor laws. People you haven't included in your stakeholder group that, nonetheless have a stake in what you present to the provincial government. People who elected your asses!



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