Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Quebec Loosens Prohibition-Era Liquor Laws; Makes It Easier to Get Alcohol Permits

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Quebec Loosens Prohibition-Era Liquor Laws; Makes It Easier to Get Alcohol Permits

Article excerpt

Quebec announces reforms to its liquor laws

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MONTREAL - Quebec restaurants that do not have a bar licence such as Montreal's Ye Olde Orchard must sell a bowl of pasta or other small plates to patrons who just want to grab a pint of beer.

If a business doesn't have such a licence -- which is not easy to acquire -- it cannot serve alcohol without food.

That regulation will soon be over, thanks to Quebec's Bill 170, which was tabled Wednesday and is aimed at easing the province's liquor laws and making it simpler to acquire permits.

"It's great, I think that it will actually encourage people to come out," said Ye Olde Orchard co-owner Stephanie Carter. "A lot of people go out for dinner and then want to stop by for a pint."

Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux said the goal of his bill is to facilitate the lives of citizens and business owners by modernizing the province's Prohibition-era liquor laws he described as "appallingly complex."

Another example of Quebec's antiquated liquor regulations is a rule that forbids children to sit on a bar patio with their parents after 8 p.m.

"Imagine it's a beautiful summer night, it's five minutes past 8," Coiteux told reporters. You're with your kids and you want to have a glass of wine on a nice terrasse. That's actually illegal and it's happened to me.

"Imagine the tourists from Europe who get off a cruise and we tell them this? This is what we want to change."

Bill 170 allows parents with kids to remain on a bar patio until 11 p.m., gives tourists the right to take a beer bought at the hotel bar back to their room, and liberates businesses open for just a few months a year from having to buy a full-year alcohol permit.

Coiteux said the legislation "simplifies the lives of people, simplifies the lives of industry. Who can be against this?"

If the law is passed, grocery and corner stores will be able to sell alcohol one hour earlier, at 7 a.m., and hotels will be allowed to serve alcohol in the lobby or elsewhere outside their bar or restaurant, which is currently illegal. …

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