The latest booze news was a little hard to swallow.
Just as news hit that consumers were about to be served a double price increase, a risqué rum found itself on the rocks.
First, the Selinger government leveled another levy at consumers. As reported yesterday, liquor and beer prices are going up on April 1.
In not making an early April Fool’s joke, Manitoba Liquor Control Commission spokeswoman Karen Hiebert said the price surcharge will see a domestic 12-pack of beer go up by 80 cents and a 750-ml bottle of spirits rise by 47 cents.
“We do this in conjunction with supplier price increases,” she said, meaning the full price increase for liquor and beer won’t be known until suppliers adjust their costs.
While so-called sin taxes are usually easy to swallow for the teetotallers, they tend to stiff those who savour the aged grape, flip for fermented sugar cane and have a passion for malted cereal grains.
But it’s a high-proof tax for a broke government.
Although beer prices in Manitoba will remain among the lowest in Canada, according to a provincial spokesperson, the additional cash will help fill up the province’s general revenues.
Canadian Taxpayers Federation Manitoba director Colin Craig said he believes price increases are being designed by the Selinger government to increase revenue to the province.
And you don’t need beer goggles to see that.
“You’ve got a party that’s been spending like drunken sailors and now they’re taking it out on everyone who buys alcohol,” he said.
Hey, Colin, that’s pretty funny.
But still, aside from the price hike — which it could be argued will hit those hardest who shouldn’t be drinking in the first place — what was the MLCC thinking when it came to the rum rumble?
Consumers were aghast to hear yesterday that bottles of rum bearing the name and likeness of legendary adult-film star Ron Jeremy had been temporarily pulled from Liquor Store shelves following a customer complaint. One customer complaint?
Liquor Marts already stock a variety of products with sexually suggestive or otherwise edgy brand names, including Sex on the Beach shooters, Kinky liquor and Ménage à Trois wines.
But something about Ron de Jeremy went too far for a single stick-in-the-mud. The bottle’s label features Jeremy’s face, but no reference to his work in thousands of pornographic films. The product went on sale in 26 Manitoba Liquor Mart stores on Jan. 24, but was summarily withdrawn just nine days later.
After being shaken and stirred on social media yesterday, though, the suggestive spirit was quickly thrust back onto Liquor Mart shelves. Officials — wasting time like only government officials can do — now say they found nothing inappropriate about the product.
Hiebert described the decision to yank the product as a matter of erring on the side of caution.
After that one complaint.
We say the rum is fine. It’s the price hike that’s giving us a headache.
And we can assure the Selinger government there are many, many more complaints about the price hike.
So if one complaint is all it takes to get a policy re-examined … then consider this a gripe about the rising cost of the grape.