For someone like me, who’s as close to being a non-drinker as one can be (to the point where, when I answer the “lifestyle” questions from pollsters, they don’t believe my answers: “what do you mean you’ve had one drink in the last 6 months?!”), I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time railing against Prince Edward Island’s regressive liquor regulations over the years. Witness:
The levee at the Miscouche Legion looked like a rollicking good time, with a live band and teaming revelers in attendance; alas we were turned away at the door, as it was a “19+” event, due to liquor regulations.
Because of Prince Edward Island’s antediluvian liquor laws, Oliver was only allowed to be present until 9:00 p.m., and so there was some last minute stress surrounding whether he’d be able to go on stage before turning into a Prohibition pumpkin, but, again the Fringe team rose to the challenge and made sure he was on in the first hour.
I’ve never been to Small Print because the conditions of its liquor license don’t allow Oliver, being under 19, to be there after 8:00 p.m., and if I was going to go somewhere and play board games with someone, it would be with Oliver, after 8:00 p.m.
Alas the visions of butter chicken and chips dancing in our heads were dashed when we were told that Churchill Arms’ liquor license wouldn’t allow minors on the premises after 8:00 p.m. They were very nice and apologetic about it, and of course it’s a matter outside of their control so we bid them no ill will.
When we showed up at the Silver Fox last night at quarter to eight, however, the man at the door took one look at Oliver and shook his head: the concert, it seems, was a “licensed event.” Meaning no kids. We could go in without Oliver, or, maybe, get our tickets refunded and all go home empty-Gallanted.
In the last 17 years that we’ve been parents, we’ve experienced all manner of heartbreak and rejection over not being able to attend events, or go to restaurants, because Oliver, who’s almost always with us, is a minor.
When Oliver was forced to leave the launch party for Island Fringe last week before 9:00 p.m., because, organizers were told, “after 9pm, Studio 1 becomes a 19+ venue,” I decided to try to get to the bottom of this: how could it be, in 2018, that we continue to have restrictions based on temperance notions that were set aside generations ago.
It turns out that we don’t have such restrictions, at least not as of this spring, when government introduced changes to liquor regulations under the Liquor Control Act that greatly liberalized age restrictions, and take the province from being sadly regressive to being uncommonly progressive in one fell swoop.
What this means, in practice, is that the days of “sorry, we don’t allow minors after 8:00 p.m.” are gone.
As I understand it, there are limited exceptions but, compared to the old regime, they are rare and apply only in special circumstances: as such, if you are told by a restaurant, venue, event or other licensee that your under 19 children cannot be admitted, they are more than likely relying on old information.
In my experience the word has been slow to get out to some licensees and event organizers on the ramifications of these changes for their particular business; it’s also possible that some businesses are using their liquor license as a conceit for age discrimination that has nothing to do with their liquor license.
In both regards its up to we in the consuming public to spread the word.
Minister of Finance Hon. Heath MacDonald and his officials at the PEI Liquor Control Commission deserve credit for taking on the challenge of thoroughly modernizing our liquor legislation for the first time since Prohibition