Quebec's Conservative Party Is Promising To Put An End To The SAQ Monopoly

We've heard this before…

Associate Editor, MTL Blog
​Conservative party of Quebec leader Eric Duhaime speaks at a press conference. Right: SAQ exterior signage.

Conservative party of Quebec leader Eric Duhaime speaks at a press conference. Right: SAQ exterior signage.

As Quebec Election Day fast approaches and party leaders continue with their province-wide campaign, a slew of promises have been made, one of which is to end the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) monopoly.

Conservative Party of Quebec leader Éric Duhaime revealed during a September 3 press conference that he vows to end the alcohol monopoly or, as he put it, "libérer le vin" if elected October 3.

Duhaime said his pledge to loosen the province's liquor regulations would boost business development in other regions across Quebec. The Conservatives announced they would thus deregulate the sale of alcohol in other stores, including bakeries, delis and dépanneurs.

Éric envisions rules in Quebec similar to that of other cities across Europe, where local wines and liquors are offered in restaurants, charcuteries and other establishments. Duhaime said the topic has been on his radar for some time now, considering the complexity of alcohol sales.

The party leader even wrote a book back in 2014, titled Le SAQ Pousse Le Bouchon!, which highlights the disadvantages of having the SAQ, including a lack of both competitive prices and diversified offering of Quebec-made products.

Duhaime even referred to the liquor board as "erratic," pushing the public to question a "regulatory situation that is unique in the world and whose perpetuation seems to escape all logic."

"I don't want to dismantle anything," Duhaime said. "We can leave be the system we currently have in place. All I'm saying is that we need to improve it by allowing liberalization for other types of outlets in Quebec."

Duhaime's promise of a parliamentary commission on alcohol regulation is one that the CAQ previously made in 2018 but then abandoned in 2019. So, we'll see whether this plan comes to fruition if the Conservatives are elected.

This article's right-hand cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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