The City of North Vancouver is wading into the debate over the future of B.C.’s Liquor Distribution Branch.
At a meeting Monday night, municipal councillors voted to support the Government Service Employees’ Union in calling for a moratorium on a plan by the B.C. Liberals to privatize the agency. The proposal, announced in the spring, would see a private company handed a 10-year monopoly on liquor distribution in British Columbia. The union and provincial New Democrats have been hammering the government over the idea, saying it has failed to justify the decision with any kind of business case. They want a moratorium on the deal until it has had been properly studied and the public had been consulted.
Coun. Rod Clark described the decision in cartoonish terms.
“In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, ‘D’oh!’” Clark said. “I cannot believe that the government is getting out of one of the businesses they make money at.”
Continuing with the Simpsons theme, Coun. Craig Keating noted: “It does seem to be a proposal that’s been made in the interests of Monty Burns but planned by Barney Gumble,” referring to the show’s 104-year-old plutocrat and town drunk, respectively.
Coun. Guy Heywood disagreed, saying he had no ideological problem with privatizing the distribution system —the money the government spends on employees’ wages would be better spent in schools or hospitals, he argued — but that either way, it is not the city’s job to weigh in on the matter.
“It is being discussed at a senior level of government,” said Heywood. “It behooves us to stay out of it, frankly, and not respond to the interest of a narrow interest group that has a direct interest in this particular cause.”
The motion to support the union’s call for a moratorium passed 5-1, with Heywood dissenting and Coun. Pam Bookham absent.
Keating will be running in the 2013 provincial election as an NDP candidate.