Another Dougie Doozie

- Jim Young

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” - Grouch Marx

In April 2023, in an attempt to reduce their environmental footprint, the LCBO announced they would quit issuing paper bags to their customers, later that same year. The plan was to eliminate 135 million paper bags from the LCBO per annum. Calculated to save 188,000 trees each and every year thereafter, it was also estimated that 2,665 tonnes of waste would be diverted from landfills annually.

Miles ahead of most other retail operations, the LCBO had already voluntarily eliminated plastic bags 15 years prior to that, shortly after the turn of the century.

Even so, the LCBO’s decision to stop providing even paper bags to their customers altogether was not a novel idea. Many other retailers have stopped offering free bags, encouraging their customers to bring their own bags or purchase reusable bags which are said to be more environmentally friendly.

So why the sudden turn around on paper bags for the LCBO? What reason does Doug Ford have for demanding the LCBO reinstate the use of paper bags? The public is already accustomed to the concept. They may not have fully accepted it, but they are coming around.

When politicians don’t have anything to do, or at least anything to do that’s going to win them favour in the public eye, they look for opportunities to get their name in the paper in a favourable light anyway they can.

Exploiting the average person’s very real concerns about the high cost of living, Doug Ford made a very pathetic attempt to make it “look” like he’s doing something about it.

“At a time when many Ontario families are already struggling to make ends meet, every additional expense counts,” Ford offered in a letter dated April 7 to LCBO’s president and CEO.

“That includes charging customers for reusable bags instead of the free paper bags that the LCBO previously offered.”

Really, Doug? That’s the best that you can do?

If someone is struggling to make ends meet to the point that they can’t afford a reusable bag for their purchase, perhaps shopping at the LCBO should not be their biggest concern. Even so, there are no cost options such as bringing a bag from home or accepting one of the empty boxes the LCBO offers for free. If these are acceptable options for every other retailer in Ontario, why isn’t it acceptable for the LCBO?

If offering FREE paper bags at the LCBO is Doug Ford’s idea of helping families that are struggling with affordable housing and the high cost of groceries, perhaps he’s not capable of producing the results the people of Ontario are looking for in a provincial leader.

Don’t kid yourself. The LCBO and other retailers are likely all saving some money by eliminating free bags. If it’s helping the environment AND saving the companies a bit of money, why not? It’s probably too much to hope that some of these savings would be passed on to their customers, but it might lessen the impact of the next set of price increases going forward. It’s all about supply and demand. And taxes of course. But overall it’s all going to even out in the long run.

Does Doug Ford even really believe that “free bags” at the LCBO are free? They never have been and they never will be. The cost of these bags will continue to be passed onto the consumer. Robbing Peter to pay Paul has never been an effective solution.

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