clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Here’s Where Quebec’s Political Parties Stand on Alcohol Laws, Food Policy, and the SAQ

A run-down of all four major parties’ stances around food, booze, and casinos

Sebastien St-Jean/Getty Images

Quebec’s election is coming up on Monday October 1, and while much of the campaign has been dominated by issues such as immigration, healthcare and the economy at large, each of the four major parties have distinct policies on issues around food, alcohol and cannabis, nightlife, and government bodies that are involved with the hospitality world like the SAQ and Loto-Québec.

Here’s a rundown of where the Liberals, the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), the Parti Québécois (PQ), and Québec Solidaire (QS) stand in those categories.

Alcohol laws, permits, and government bodies

Liberals

The Liberal Party points to Bill 170, which it introduced and passed this year (with the support of other parties) to simplify Quebec’s liquor laws. It mostly loosened existing laws, allowing dépanneurs to sell alcohol earlier, children to stay on bar terrasses with parents for longer, and for restaurants to sell alcohol without requiring customers to eat (it’s not clear when this rule will come into effect, despite already having been passed). In a message to Eater, a Liberal representative did not point to any ways in which the party would further change laws, but indicated that it aims to simplify liquor laws in a general sense.

Québec Solidaire

QS says it wants to change laws to “make life easier” for alcohol producers; no specific details given beyond changes to the way the SAQ treats Quebec products (see below).

Parti Québécois

A PQ representative says the party would “reduce red tape” for the owners of small and medium-sized businesses, including restaurants (no precise details about these plans were provided), and would also consider implement an Institut des Alcools for Quebec, in order to promote winemaking, brewing, and distilling in the province.

CAQ

Alcohol distribution would change — see the SAQ section below.

Simon Villeneuve

The SAQ

Liberals

While the statement is vague, it seems the Liberals would keep the SAQ intact, noting that they have hired a firm to analyze ways in which the SAQ’s business model could be changed and evolved, with an eye to allowing the SAQ to provide “the best offer at the best price”.

Québec Solidaire

QS would keep the SAQ public, and mandate it to promote Quebec products and possibly lower prices if quantity of sales can be increased, while also allowing smaller producers into the SAQ.

Parti Québécois

The PQ says it is against any possible privatization of the SAQ, and that (as above), it would like to help foster Quebec’s alcohol industries.

CAQ

The CAQ wouldn’t privatize the SAQ, but says it would importers and producers to sell products more directly to consumers, which could lead to a possible dismantling of the alcohol retailer.

Food Policy

Liberals

No response given to Eater, but the party platform highlights the protection of Quebec’s family farms.

Québec Solidaire

Manon Massé and Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois say they want to support Quebec farmers, and in particular organic farming, and would provide financial and technological assistance for farmers to shift to organic methods, including covering costs for organic certifications. The party would also support the establishment of more markets where citizens can directly access food from producers. Similar to the PQ, they would press public institutions to buy local produce where possible.

Parti Québécois

Jean-Francois Lisée would reinstate the food sovereignty policy which was introduced under the Marois government in 2013 and abandoned by the Liberals. The policy promoted the consumption of Quebec-produced goods and pressed public institutions (such as schools) to buy local where possible, and also had some environmental aims such as protecting farmland and possibly reducing pesticide use.

CAQ

The party wants to promote Quebec as a gourmet destination in North America, which would include the creation of an agricultural investment fund, in part to support new and existing “agri-tourism” businesses (presumably, gourmet producers that draw public interest and tourism). It would mandate multiple ministries to work on promoting Quebec as a food tourism destination, and would create an appelation-type system where high-quality Quebec-made products would receive special certifications as to their quality.

Montreal’s casino, operated by Loto-Québec
Shutterstock

Loto-Québec

Liberals

Similarly to the SAQ, the Liberals want to “optimize” this state corporation but did not provide any specific plans.

Québec Solidaire

QS would eventually eliminate video lottery machines and until that point, profits from them would be directed to prevention and management of gambling addiction issues; advertising any form of gambling would be banned.

Parti Québécois

No major changes.

CAQ

François Legault would appoint an independent body to oversee Quebec’s publicly-owned gambling body, noting that “it is unbelievable that Loto-Québec is in charge of monitoring its own practices”, and that a government taskforce already recommended this. The CAQ would also reduce the number of video poker machines (often seen in bars), particularly in poor areas, and move Quebec City’s Salon de jeux to a more touristy area.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater Montreal newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world