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Tories still ‘don’t know’ if private liquor sales would increase revenues for Ontario

The LCBO at the Manulife Centre in Toronto.

charla jones The Globe and Mail

Ontario's Progressive Conservatives admit they don't know if private alcohol sales would increase government revenues, but say the idea is worth looking at.

PC Leader Tim Hudak says he's confident the private sector could do a better job of selling alcohol and wants to allow sales of beer, wine and spirits in grocery and convenience stores.

However, PC finance critic Peter Shurman made a stunning admission when pressed for proof to back up the claim that taxpayers would not be better off sticking with the Liquor Control Board, which brought in $1.6-billion last year.

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Mr. Shurman said frankly the Tories "don't know" that they'd make more money, but added they don't know that they'd make any less money either.

Ontario's last Conservative government is still coming under fire for selling off Highway 407 and allowing the foreign owners to continually jack up rates.

But Mr. Hudak says things will be different this time and the Tories won't privatize liquor sales unless it is a good deal for taxpayers.

He points to a five-year-old study done for the Liberal government which suggested the province could take in an additional $200-million from private liquor sales.

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