Wednesday, December 4, 2019

All Employers Are Equal, Except For Manitoba Liquor Marts. They're Special.

The introduction of locking vetibule entrances and ID checkpoints at government Liquor Marts in Winnipeg is not only draconian, but a distraction from a larger issue. 

Why did the City of Winnipeg do NOTHING to hold the management accountable, as mobs of robbers became a daily occurance?
As incidents escalated to between 10- 20 thefts per day (and the media got blamed for reporting on it) I asked Winnipeg city Coun. Markus Chambers - the deputy chair of the Police Board - a few questions about the city's relationship to the business of Liquor Marts.

This was after CTV reported: "Chambers said while these incidents aren’t under the city’s jurisdiction, safety is." so I asked him:

A) Does the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries have to acquire an Occupancy Permit and/or a Business Licence for their outlets? Are there any other city permissions required that you are aware of?

Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Chair Randy Williams previously served as executive director for Manitoba Lotteries Corporation. He has over 25 years of experience in Manitoba’s gaming industry. None in the liquor business, apparently.

B) The City imposes stringent regulation including hours of operation, locations, and business practices and record keeping for Body Rub Parlours. Is there any provision of the City of Winnipeg or other Act or regulation that would prohibit the City from imposing similar conditions of the operation of Liquor Marts? 

C) The chaos created inside and outside of Liquor Marts by the brazen thefts (as opposed to traditonal 'discreet' shoplifting) is infinitely more dangerous to the public than any being caused by Body Rub Parlours. Should the City hike the fees associated with permits for Liquor Marts to better reflect the costs of police resources being diverted due to the failure of Liquor Marts to secure their inventory?

Coun. Chambers sent me a very thoughful response, but didn't answer those questions. But you get the point. 

Liquor Marts in Winnipeg became indisputably dangerous. Way more dangerous than another, more highly-regulated sin industry, bodyrub shops. Yet the city used zero of the regulatory tools available to it, to enforce its jurisdiction over safety surrounding Manitoba Liquor Marts. 

"He had a bottle in one hand and a knife in the other and he said, 'This is how you take free booze' and he pointed at the knife," she said. The witness said the liquor store is robbed about every three days by several people at a time"

* Then there's this:' the failure of Liquor Marts to secure their inventory '

Any bar I ever worked at had to protect the booze. If any of those licenced premises had racked up continuing brazen thefts of bottles by violent goofs, the Manitoba Liquor Commission would have seized the permit from the owners. Period. 

But in the current day, the Pallister government's hand-picked Directors can fail - FOR TWO YEARS - to get a handle on the thefts, and suffer no consequences. Meanwhile, customers ended up being mugged and staff on the store floors assaulted and hospitalized.

* Now what if those employees worked at say, a smelter in Flin Flon? Manitoba government Safety officials would have bragged about prosecuting the company. They love reminding the public how important it is to hold business owners responsible.

Look how they crowed about busting a welding company: 
"The blade caught the top of the worker’s glove and pulled his hand into the cutting blade, resulting in serious injury.  Arne’s Welding Ltd. pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that a machine or tool was used or operated in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.  The employer was order to pay $25,000 in fines and penalties, and an additional $5,000 payable to Workplace Safety and Health Public Education Fund."

Why did provincial Workplace Safety officials do even less than the City to enforce safety standards to protect liquor marts workers? 

The answer is obvious - Private business owners are easy pickin's for fines and sanctions, but a business run by Directors appointed by the provincial government of the day are a protected class. And that's a dangerous precedent. 

The parade of experts on the MLL Board includes:
A Lotteries expert as chair, a tax and estate lawyer, a former BellMTS executive, a technology guru, an MBA, the president of a Bioscience group (who has run for the Pallister-led Progressive Conservatives), and a former Progressive Conservative MLA.  

Their expertise in selling liquor to the public while maintaining public safety seems to be absent. 

Surely, politics has not trumped workplace safety enforcement?

With such a highly qualified crew in charge, their failure to get a handle on the mayhem and plundering of the Crown Corporation's outlets makes them just as liable, in my mind, to have to answer in formal proceedings for their failure to protect employees, customers, and the general public. 

Just as any welding company or smelter operation does.
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