Advance View: Shining light into darkness

The latest change in B.C.’s liquor laws – opening up beer gardens into “whole family” experiences at charity events – points to a disturbing trend in this province and elsewhere: anything that makes money for charity or somebody with a business interest appears to be fair game.

The announcement from the government comes brightly presented in happy and cheerful tones, suggesting that a light is finally being shone to dispel the dark ages of alcohol abuse.

“Public safety will continue to be a top priority,” we are assured, and, “Sports and entertainment venues will also see positive changes, thanks to modernized rules.”

There’s lots of chatter about charities making more money, and related businesses getting economic benefits.

It’s all about “increasing choice and convenience for consumers, cutting red tape, spurring the economy and supporting B.C. jobs, while protecting health and public safety.”

Wait a minute… many of the negative effects of alcohol on both health and public safety are very well understood. How exactly does freer and easier public access to alcoholic beverages – hard liquor will now be available, as well as beer – protect health and public safety?

And somewhere in all that, we’ve missed the implications of adding children into the mix – there’s no discussion of the effects of direct exposure of children to alcohol, as they get to sit beside their moms and dads drinking in public.

Relaxation of liquor laws implies public approval of increased alcohol consumption, and worse, this draws children in further.

We’re wondering how many more charitable organizations will have to organize more open and modernized beer garden events so they can raise funds to help alleviate some of the social problems that our new laws might exacerbate.

– B.G.

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