Part of last week’s provincial budget announcement regarding alcohol has a Muskoka connection: Miller



Relaxing regulations around alcohol seemed to get a lot of attention last week when Doug Ford’s provincial government released its 2019 budget.

A number of changes are expected to be implemented this summer including allowing municipalities to permit drinking in parks and other public areas, creating tailgating permits for qualifying sporting events as well as allowing licensed establishments to begin serving alcohol at 9 a.m.

When asked about Doug Ford’s apparent fascination with alcohol, Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller said while people assume Premier Doug Ford is a drinker, he’s not.

“They assume he drinks a few beers because he’s not a small guy, you know, so I would’ve assumed that, but he actually doesn’t drink himself,” said Miller. He also noted one of the alcohol-related changes in the budget announced last Thursday was born from an inquiry made right here in Muskoka.

Miller said he was contacted by Muskoka Highlands Golf Course owner Don MacKay asking why the golf course could not start serving alcohol as early as 9 a.m. “I said really? Do people drink at 9 o’clock in the morning? He said they do and they bring their own. And if we’re selling it, it’ll be more regulated,” said Miller of the exchange. “So that was one of the alcohol changes that was approved in the budget.”

Loosening the regulations around the purchase and consumption of alcohol was part of the PC’s election promise, said Miller. As for the related public health issues that might arise by making alcohol more readily available, Miller’s response was that people ought to be treated like adults.

“I think we need to treat our citizens like grownups and adults. I would totally agree that we all have to be smart about how we consume alcohol, and we shouldn’t drink and drive, for sure, and we need to be responsible, but that’s up to individuals…”

As for smoking weed, Miller said he has mixed feelings about the legalization of pot. He said other than more money for governments, he can’t see the benefits. “I drink, I figure I have enough vices and don’t need another one,“ he said. “I’m not sure what the societal positive benefit is going to be to that whole change, but it’s something that was dictated by the federal government and we’re in the process of implementing it as supply becomes more available.”

As for gambling, the government plans on establishing a competitive online gambling market,  which Miller described as keeping up with the times. “And again, personally, I’m not in big favour of gambling. I don’t gamble myself, and I don’t see the great fascination with it, but a lot of people do and I think some of the changes being made are sort of to keep up with the times.”

As for addiction and mental health issues, Miller said Minister of Health Christine Elliott is very interested in that issue.

“We’re going to be spending a lot of money on addressing mental health—3.8 billion dollars. That’s a combination of half federal, half provincial money, and she’s absolutely working on her strategy,” said Miller, adding that the Minister has been lobbying and working on issues related to mental health for some time. “I’m sure it’s something that we’re going to be keenly working on going forward.”

He said he’s also heard the Minister of Education talking about creating mental health programs in schools for the first time.

Read more comments from Miller on the provincial budget here: Miller talks budget and says he’s feeling ‘much better’ about Doug Ford as leader.

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  1. Karen Wehrstein on

    “As for smoking weed, Miller said he has mixed feelings about the legalization of pot. He said other than more money for governments, he can’t see the benefits. ‘I drink, I figure I have enough vices and don’t need another one,’ he said.”
    Norm, it’s not all about you. Some people prefer weed over booze.
    But more importantly, we parents no longer have to try to come up with a logical explanation for our kids when they ask why one vice is supplied in government stores and the other can get you thrown in jail. That’s the big societal benefit to my mind: it engenders more trust in adults on the part of youth.

  2. I like the idea that government treats us as adults, but please don’t treat us as idiots. I’m angry with your comment that we should be treated as adults when it comes to alcohol but in the same breath you really don’t think we are adult enough to use marijuana. I’ve always been disappointed by our antiquated laws regarding both alcohol and marijuana. I personally don’t use marijuana and I love a shot of Bailey’s in my morning coffee, usually before 9 AM. but I do not take away the right of another adult enjoying a toke for his morning relaxation. We all have our vices, we must learn to respect them and be responsible for our actions. So my rant is not about the law changes but Mr. Millers attitude that his vice is ok but others are not.

  3. Am going to echo the sentiments of the previous posters and say Norm, what are you thinking? Never has a person smoked a joint and gotten into a fight costing dollars from the health care system.
    Never has a person gotten any sort of benefit from enjoying drinks whereas the benefits of cannabis are well documented. If the government you belong to were really wanting to give the adults of this province the ability to behave like adults just do so without any sort of pandering. That would make you appear like adults!!

    • Doesn’t see the societal benefits of smoking weed. Is he drunk? Young people’s careers being ruined over a criminal record for possession. Can’t see that.
      Perhaps he should visit the Byward market on a Friday. He can see the full benefits of alcohol in its full glory. Fights. Puking, stabbings. The cost to society is ridiculously high for alcohol. Wake up!!!

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