Opinion Column

Join campaign to fix 'happy hour'

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

Prices for local happy hours are expected to rise with new provincial regulations. (REUTERS)

Prices for local happy hours are expected to rise with new provincial regulations. (REUTERS)

Two fifty for a hi-ball and a buck and a half for a beer. Happy hour, happy hour, happy hour is here. The Tragically Hip, Little Bones

How on earth could anyone screw up something as simple as “happy hour” rules?

Welcome to British Columbia, where the BC Liberal government isn’t on the planet when it comes to being clear on the “happy hour” concept.

That’s when bars, pubs and restaurants can offer thirsty patrons a short break from overpriced beer, wine and cocktails.

But when B.C. Attorney-General Suzanne Anton announced the “modernizing” of liquor laws Friday, the prices will actually be higher – not lower – than before in many cases. Up to $5 more for a 60-ounce pitcher of beer and $2 more for a pint.

And if the BC Liberals can’t even figure out how to introduce “happy hour” without making us pay more, not less, for a simple drink – it’s scary to think how they will negotiate a critical taxation regime for liquefied natural gas that’s worth billions of dollars.

Getting LNG right is just a little tougher.

Drinkers immediately cried in their more expensive beer because the province set minimum drink charges for “happy hour” above current prices.

“I'm fundamentally disappointed in the government for this," Adam Chatburn, president of Vancouver’s Campaign for Real Ale Society chapter, told media. “Unfortunately, they've decided to jack the price right up."

Yes, that’s right – the “B.C. Liberalized” happy hour means more expensive booze.

The new rules mean the minimum price for an ounce of liquor is $2 and $3 for a 12-ounce beer or five-ounce wine.

Sadly, liquor is one area where the BC Liberals have made some positive changes, drawing this column’s rare praise.

Saturday’s announcement that B.C.-produced wine, beer, cider and spirits can now be sold in farmers’ markets, for example, is welcome.

No one wants dirt-cheap drinks or more drunk drivers – and most of the civilized world, including Seattle, seems able to do “happy hour” appropriately.

So can we just get a little break on an after-work drink — or is that too much to ask?

Join my new Facebook page here — called Fix BC Happy Hour — so we can truly get happy.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read more at http://billtieleman.blogspot.com. Email: weststar@telus.net. Twitter: @BillTieleman


Do you support a real happy hour with cheaper drinks in B.C. bars?

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