Ontario orders the LCBO to pull Russian booze – Toronto Star

The LCBO store on Danforth Avenue at Victoria Park Avenue in Toronto.

Ontario orders LCBO to pull Russian vodka and other products from its store shelves in wake of Ukraine invasion

By Rob FergusonQueen’s Park Bureau

Fri., Feb. 25, 20223 min. read

Article was updated 53 mins ago

The LCBO has been ordered to stop selling Russian vodka and beer following the invasion of Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces.

“The people of Ontario will always stand against tyranny and oppression. To that end, I am directing the LCBO to withdraw all products produced in Russia from store shelves,” Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy said Friday.

His order followed a similar request of the Liquor Control Boardof Ontario from Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca earlier in the day, but Premier Doug Ford told reporters the measure had already been under discussion.

“Ontario and the LCBO can’t say it’s truly standing with Ukraine while continuing to be Putin’s customer,” Del Duca said.

Ford called the sales ban a “very, very small step” in sending a message to Putin, whom he has branded a “thug.” He urged the Canadian government to take a tougher line on Russia with additional sanctions and accept more Ukrainian refugees.

The move came a day after all parties in the legislature condemned the invasion and Ford announced a $300,000 donation from the province to the Canada-Ukraine Foundation for medical aid, food and shelter for Ukraine. It was $100,000 more than the foundation requested in a letter to the government.

New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath said the $300,000 was “a pittance” and called on Ford to boost that contribution to “at least $3 million,” and to match all donations made by Ontarians to the foundation. There are more than 300,000 people of Ukrainian heritage in the province.

“Our solidarity with the people of Ukraine, who are living in fear for their sovereignty and for their lives, must be concrete,” she said.

The LCBO is one of the largest alcohol retailers in the world. It carries three brands of Russian vodka — Russian Standard, Legend of Kremlin Premium, and Beluga Russian Luxury Vodka — and Baltika 7 beer.

The LCBO did not respond to questions from the Star about the value of the Russian inventory and whether it can be returned to suppliers for refunds.

The Russian products can still be sold in bars, restaurants and supermarket kiosks that have purchased them wholesale from the LCBO because “licensees make their own decisions about the availability of Russian products” but no more can be ordered “until further notice,” the LCBO said in a written statement.

However, it will accept returns from licencees of unopened Russian products.

“The LCBO stands with Ukraine, its people, and the Ukrainian-Canadian community here in Ontario,” the statement added.

As Del Duca’s request garnered attention on social media earlier Friday, there were suggestions consumers turn to vodkas made in Ukraine or closer to home.

“Plenty of great craft distillers making vodka right here in Ontario,” said Ryan Mallough of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Read more on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

The Star’s latest coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Why is Russia invading Ukraine? Everything you need to know

What are Canada’s sanctions against Russia and how do they stack up to other countries’?

What is SWIFT and why haven’t countries expelled Russia from it yet?

Does China support the Russian invasion of Ukraine?

What role did Ukraine’s desire to join NATO play in Putin’s decision to invade the country?

A list of Russian allies during the Ukraine invasion and the reasons they support the aggression

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