The debate over alcohol sales in convenience stores is once again brewing with the release of a petition from the Ontario Convenience Stores Association containing in excess of 112,000 signatures calling for the availability of wine and beer in corner stores.
The petition is supported by a Facebook campaign launched last year by the OCSA and its CEO, Dave Bryans, which can be found here.
This corner talked to Bryans on several occasions last year and he points out corner stores in more than 200 Ontario communities too small to support an LCBO outlet or a Beer Store now are authorized to sell alcohol.
It is worth noting the latter are owned by Labatt Brewing Company Ltd., Molson Coors Canada and Sleeman Breweries Ltd., with the first two conglomerates owned by multinationals InBev and Interbrew respectively.
Exactly one month ago, a petition calling for the removal of a meth clinic from its present downtown location at 217 Talbot St. garnered space on the front page of the Times-Journal.
The petition was spearheaded by area performer Traci Kennedy, and stated in part: “The people that grace that clinic are a disgrace to our community because they just don’t care how they behave or how their behaviour reflects on us. We as business owners and residents of St. Thomas should not have to feel like we are no longer safe in our home community.”
Reporter Nick Lypaczewski’s story – and a follow-up with clinic users who charged Kennedy’s generalizations detract from the positive strides former addicts have made – generated response from both sides of the fence.
The St. Thomas Medical Pharmacy’s Clinic 217 shown is located on Talbot Street at the New and Wlliam Street intersection near the west entrance to the city.
And the feedback continues, with increasing support for the efforts of the meth clinic, as witness passionate letters submitted this week from two readers.
“To read Traci Kennedy’s heartless rants, one almost gets the feeling that she lives in a glass house, albeit with a sordid, decrepit view of Talbot Street,” writes Sharon Hodgson of St. Thomas.
Hodgson is a community service worker and continues with this observation: “I am not surprised she believes she has the perception of support to eliminate Clinic 217, along with any addiction clients, as the city does have a well-known reputation for victimizing its vulnerable.
“Whether those vulnerable be addicted, alcoholic, homeless, women fleeing domestic assault, sole-mother families, disability recipients or homosexual.”
Just ahead of us on page 5 of Saturday’s T-J is a grim accounting of life for both the guards and inmates at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.
“There’s going to be a riot within the next couple of months,” warns Trish Goden, a veteran of a riot in the Whitby jail and president of Local 108 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union representing jail guards.
Goden continues: “That’s the way it’s heading. The inmates are saying it was peaceful this time, but next time it’s not going to be. They don’t like being locked in all the time. They don’t like being crammed in. I understand the reason they are agitated and I don’t see those reasons going away.”
Interior of a holding cell for two inmates at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.
Take a close look at the photo at right of a cell housing two inmates. Goden suggests you wouldn’t treat dogs in this manner.
“If you had the same amount of dogs in that space, you’d be fined. They’d take them away from you. But for some reason, humans are different. I know they’re incarcerated, but there has to be a standard of life here.”
Coincidentally, what should arrive in the electronic mailbag Friday afternoon but a high-octane media release from MPP Jeff Yurek who takes a jab at the Libs “for letting conditions deteriorate so drastically.”
He’s never one to shy away from controversy and if that has ever been in doubt, then the following comments passed along to us from St. Thomas entrepreneur Bob McCaig should spark lively debate.
His observations are culled from a letter sent to Randy Hillier, Conservative MPP for Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, in which McCaig praises Ontario PC’s “for having the guts to openly discuss major labour reform in Ontario.”
In a nutshell, McCaig says the time has come to end the union free ride at the expense of taxpayers.
I warned you feathers would be ruffled.
McCaig opens by observing: “Here in St. Thomas where I live, we have witnessed the careful dismantling of 99% of our industrial base. It would be convenient to blame organized labour, particularly the CAW, for the collapse of our manufacturing base, but it would be unfair to blame them alone.