Dale Nally and his otherwise unidentified pal Larry having a daytime can of Crispy Tall Bois pilsner in an Edmonton 7-Eleven (Photo: Screenshot of UCP video).

Talk about the perfect metaphor for Alberta’s United Conservative Party Government in the year of Our Lord 2023: A couple of guys day-drinking in a 7-Eleven and yakking about it. 

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Well, bois, it just doesn’t get any better than this! 

I speak of course of the social media video made by Red Tape Reduction Minister Dale Nally and his pal Larry about how the UCP is making Alberta a better place by cutting “red tape,” which as we all understand is a venerable pejorative term used by people who don’t like the rules to describe regulations. 

The reference, by the way, to “bois” – usually pronounced boys – is a reference to the beer these two worthy gentlemen are quaffing. Is this a dogwhistle to the UCP base? I’m not sure. I guess we’ll know if they show up in another video wearing Hawaiian shirts and camo vests. Most likely it was just the only beer from an Alberta brewery on hand in the store. 

Mr. Nally – who is the MLA for Morinville-St. Albert and also the Minister of Service Alberta, by tradition the least significant portfolio in an Alberta cabinet – was touting the government’s Jason-Kenney-era promise to “cut red tape,” a phrase that needs to be enclosed in scare quotes not just because many regulations benefit society but also because Conservative efforts to reduce it so often result in the creation of even more regulation.

For example, to allow customers to swill booze on the premises, 7-Eleven will require a restaurant licence and will also have to hire staff who have received the Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis Commission’s liquor sales staff training course, which sounds like two additional pieces of red tape to me. 

CBC beer columnist Jason Foster (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Premier Danielle Smith’s government has been pushing its not-very-significant red-tape initiative hard for the past couple of days, presumably to distract from the embarrassment caused by Justice Minister Tyler Shandro’s Alberta Law Society hearing and the privacy breach he publicly committed while it was taking place. 

The idea of selling beer and wine in convenience stores has worked well enough for many years in Quebec and Newfoundland, which like Alberta remain part of Canada. It could work well here, too, if it is done right. 

“It is because of our government’s red tape reduction that 7-Eleven locations with cafes, like this one here, are licensed to sell and serve alcohol,” enthused Mr. Nally, just in case you were thinking of letting the kids run down to the corner 7-Eleven by themselves, in his one-minute social media video. 

But this deal seems to have been worked out only with the Dallas, Tex.-based, Japanese-owned, multinational convenience store chain

Moreover, the idea appears to have started out not as red tape reduction, but as part of COVID-19 mitigation measures to AGLC regulations for consumption of alcohol in parks and restaurant off-sales of beer and wine during the pandemic. 

As CBC beer columnist and Athabasca University professor Jason Foster pointed out in his blog last week, “this decision stretches the definition of an eating establishment to the point of absurdity. Sure, 7-Eleven serves food. Hot dogs, fried chicken, pizza and other hot greasy things are its anchor. … But does that make it a restaurant? I am skeptical.”

More importantly, Dr. Foster continued, “this push by 7-Eleven is more about finding a back door way to allow them to sell beer and wine like a liquor store. … This is about expanding retail sales to convenience stores.”

“This change has the potential to upend Alberta’s liquor retail system,” he wrote. “It is being done without any consultative process with either Albertans or other players in the industry or without any open recognition of its potential impact on the liquor retail industry. 

“Worse, it is being implemented in a way that clearly advantages one of the largest convenience store chains on the planet,” Dr. Foster added, noting that “a policy that clearly provides an unfair advantage to one for-profit player at the expense of others is bad policy.”

Whether any of this benefits consumers can be debated. It is certainly unlikely to lower prices or address public health and safety concerns.

It may drive some of Alberta’s many marginal liquor stores out of business, a change that certainly won’t stimulate economic growth, diversification and job creation, as Mr. Nally asserts it will in his video. 

Not all regulation eliminations in the UCP’s red tape cutting exercise are bad. For example, allowing government offices to accept digital signatures makes sense and will ease the burden on public employees and businesses alike. 

But most examples touted by the UCP are dangerous. 

For example allowing cryptocurrency scammers to operate in a rules-free “regulatory sandbox,” making it easier for the parks ministry to cave in to off-road vehicle users by “moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach,” and making sure only pro-industry captured agencies make regulations affecting resource development will all have harmful impacts on Alberta and Albertans. 

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  1. Speaking of day drinking,
    So will the water Dragon imbide in the pure nectar, or shall he indulge in the heathen nectar of the gods …..

    Bruce Lee
    John Lennon
    Robin Williams
    Martial arts, writing, and humor
    Dragon “Master of Journalism ”

    A toast to our host, to whom under the circumstances, ” day drinking ” is totally understandable, ( as long as he’s not working…) Cheers from another Dragon…
    Happy Birthday & Best Wishes always…

    Just as a side bar: Kenny was up in the sky palace with his ministers, Dani’s are day drinking @7/11 ….a picture is worth a thousand words….

    1. Randi-lee: Thank you! Alas, on a related topic, I am unable to make it to David Beers’ talk on journalism. Pity. DJC

  2. follow up, Jasper brewing co, clear water from the foothills ( not if they start mining coal, imho )
    and I realize it’s probably redundant, but isn’t there some kind of protocol about politicians advertising a specific company ,or in this case both a store and a separate product, does the store already carry the beer, did they bring it in ?????

    1. The Jasper Crisp Pils is a pretty good quaff for a good price, usually. They had (have?) it on tap at the Common in Edmonton so a lot of MLAs would likely be exposed to it.

  3. This is contradictory, foolish, and very risky. The UCP does not know any better. Alcoholism, and problems related to alcohol consumption, affect many people. Many of us know people who were affected by this, myself included. Many years ago, I lost two uncles, who were in their 50s, as a result of alcohol. One of them passed away from cancer, from smoking, and cirrhosis of the liver, due to drinking. The other suffered from the effects of alcohol, after he stopped drinking. Liquor stores proliferate Alberta municipalities as it is, thanks to Ralph Klein, who had a big problem with alcohol. Ralph Klein privatized liquor stores in Alberta. Communities have legitimate concerns over problems caused by so many liquor stores being around. Now, alcohol is available in 7-11 convenience stores. What could possibly go wrong here? 7-11 convenience stores in Alberta have only one staff member, or two at the most, on the job. The stores are open 24/7. Robberies are an issue, especially at night. The homeless, who also can include people with addictions problems, frequent 7-11 convenience stores. Giving them easier to access alcohol is going to make things worse. There’s also the issue of drinking and driving. This isn’t reducing red tape, and it is compounding a problem that is already very bad to begin with in Alberta. This is the UCP’s priority, while there are far more pressing concerns, including public education, public healthcare, affordability issues for Albertans, including those on AISH, senior citizens, and others. This shows how backwards and out of touch the UCP really are. What’s sad, is there will be the devotees of the UCP trying to defend this really dumb move.

    1. Yeah I dunno you can buy booze at the grocery store in Lots of other places, having a separate brick and mortar location in the same parking lot owned by the same company but pretending it’s not the same thing is pretty ridiculous IMO. People cultivated grains specifically for alcohol before anything else, imbibing spirits is literally one of the oldest practices we have.

      Alberta has long has a puritanical nonsensical restrictive relationship with alcohol not supported by anything other than this being a Bible Belt province.

      I also disagree with this blogs author in that it will be a drag on liquor stores. If you can’t make a go of legalized drug dealing when so many of your competitors are completely unorganized & uninterested in growing their business you deserve to fail.

  4. “But most examples touted by the UCP are dangerous.”
    Fair enough for the story at hand.

    ‘But most ________ touted by the UCP are dangerous.’
    This is much closer to the truth. And handy! Good in every circumstance.

  5. I’m not sure this red tape reduction will actually help 7-11 much at this point. Most of their downtown locations here have already closed. I think part of their demise has something to do with the common homeless encampments in front of them that deterred customers. Of course, that has something to do with the Alberta government’s funding for homeless day shelters being somewhere between temporary and non existent in some of Alberta’s larger cities and their approach to dealing with addictions also not working well.

    However, I suppose there may be a suburban day drinking crowd who might not mind paying convenience store prices to avoid the impression a mid day trip to the liquor might convey to the neighbours.

    Still, it seems a somewhat zero sum game even if 7-11 wins and sells booze, the local liquor store will lose. Perhaps the only silver lining for them here is if the other antics of the UCP drive more people to day drinking and expand the market. However, this does not seem very beneficial for society overall.

  6. After watching Dale Nally blame the Federal Carbon Tax on everything while he was Associate Minister of Electricity and Natural gas during question period and never answer a single question regarding electricity rebates, I have very little respect for him. True to form we are out drinking in public episode for the UCP instead of dealing with inflation and health care which matter much more to Albertans than having a beer at 7-11. These guys just don’t get it, do they?

  7. When it comes to booze: less red tape = more red blood.
    The more accessible alcohol is, the more people die.
    Smith is filling foreign coffers for coffins.
    Go ‘berta !

  8. Apparently these phoney conservatives have forgotten that cutting red tape at the Klein level created the orphan well cleanup mess by dumping the costs onto the backs of the people. Not to mention the condo development that was condemned for not being inspected properly while being constructed that created a nightmare for the owners. That’s how stupid these fools are. Once again in typical reform party fashion destroying jobs is what they do best.

  9. Timing is everything, and sometimes good for a morning giggle…
    First Ad to pop up= How to fix worn leather seats….which went so well with the day drinking topic
    and turned on the news to see PP, with a dive for the mute button….I’m still on my first coffee… scroll down and 2nd ad is for= blower truck services, soil and mulch ,

    Murphy’s Law at it’s best ..

  10. While I appreciate your explanation for ‘bois’, those of us who are versed in Canada’s other official language read that differently. With the brewery based in Jasper, I saw it as a reference to the trees and forests of Jasper National Park, with ‘bois’ being wood, which there (despite more frequent forest fires and the ravages of the mountain pine beetle) is still plenty of in the Jasper region. Not to say that ‘bois’ can’t be co-opted for other purposes. It may even be an homage to ‘coureurs des bois’, the early French-Canadian fur traders. Is that still taught in AB schools, or do students only get Winston Churchill and the history of the British Empire thanks to the curriculum update? Or am I overthinking this? Maybe it is just boys being bois.

    1. C’mon, Middle Dave, that may be what the Jasper Brewing Co. had in mind, but we’re living in a province where the prevailing view among the UCP base is that if the English language was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for Alberta. DJC

  11. The Dark Horse, the budget whiskey on the Sky palace rooftop (don’t forget the wine), the Devin Dreeshen Styrofoam-cooler-as-office-furniture incident — this is one way for the flushed-face UCP gang to give the middle finger to the new health guidelines to limit alcohol to two servings a week. Next up, buck-a-beer? Maybe cannabis edibles at 7-11, right beside the Slurpee machine? Better yet, beer Slurpees! Gotta get those kiddies primed for their careers in UCP™ used car sales and the growing despair of living with the UCP in charge.

    Where is Danielle Smith hiding out these days, anyways? Just tweets from her staff. No radio show appearance on the weekend? No answers to all the questions about her interference in the justice system and the Tyler Shandro Law Society hearing? Plus a bonus round of the Coutts convoy! Is she in her lair plotting to appoint herself the UCP candidate for Livingstone-Macleod? Just another Kenney clone (or should I say clown?) doing what Kenney did: skip town after heating up a mess of political stew. The “where’s Waldo” schtick is getting old and haggard, just like our provincial government. But hey, while she’s been gone, we’re getting “free speech” on our university campuses now, which means you and I can can spew any racist, misogynistic, hate-filled garbage we want and no one can stop it.

    I hate what this province has become under the UCP. That’s my free speech talking.

      1. I’m assuming the local deadbeats won’t be standing outside, offering to buy booze for minors for a fee. It happened to my offspring, who responded, “why would I need you to buy beer? I’m older than you are.”

  12. Where it suits them, the UCP believes in your safety ends where my freedom begins, not the other way around.

  13. A few semi-related thoughts:

    “I can’t believe they won’t let you sit and drink beer during the day in a convenience store!” – a quote uttered by no one ever.

    If you think white conservatives don’t have substance abuse issues, consider how often their politicians manipulate them with access to cheap alcohol. Buck-a-beer, anyone?

    Safe injection sites bad because they enable drug abuse. Day-drinking at 7-11 good because… … … okay I give up.

    So this one convenience store gets to sell liquor and the others don’t. That’s funny, I thought Conservatives didn’t like it when governments pick winners and losers.

  14. Since this is all about the FreeDUMB, why have any restrictions on alcohol consumption at all? I mean who’s to tell anyone where, when, and how they imbibe in their favourite Devil’s elixir? Isn’t there something called the separation of church and state —sometimes? And drunk people are happy people, and who’s going to get in the way of the First Amendment right to the pursuit of happiness? That’s how wars get started — just ask V. Putin.

  15. I see where Pierre Poilievre is once again making a fool of himself. He says that our cities are becoming crime zones and he is right and yet he is the fool who praised the criminals in the truck convoys and bashed Trudeau for wanting to ban assault rifles and handguns to try to fix the situation . You can’t be any dumper than that can you? In true Reform Party Fashion he never offers a solution to any of the problems he whines about and refuses to work with Trudeau and Singh to help solve any of them. We would be a damn fool to support him, you can bet he will try to destroy our Public Health Care system, if elected, like his pal Stephen Harper tried to do.

  16. What probably happened is Jason Kenney locked himself into the Sky Palace and would not come out until his demands were met, So the rest of the bois had to find somewhere else for boozy lunches.
    Now Kenney is joining Bennett Jones as an advisor; I wonder what his other demands were? Meanwhile some poor lackey has to clean out all the cheap whiskey bottles.

  17. “It is certainly unlikely to lower prices or address public health and safety concerns.”

    “[A] rules-free “regulatory sandbox,” [guarantees that] only pro-industry captured agencies make regulations affecting resource development will all have harmful impacts on Alberta and Albertans.” [As Kevin Taft alluded to, not so long ago.]

    It should not have to be pointed out that any true ethical or moral considerations have long been abandoned in order to better serve ‘self interest’ and the profit motive, even as; the often ignored neo classical economic suggestion that ethical boundaries are necessary for the constraint of self interest continues to be disregarded. Further, the neo classical economic model [lovingly embraced by Ms. Smith] also conveniently ignores the possibilities of negative externalities/spillovers.

    Alcohol is a toxin. That fact is not even debatable. The social and individual costs associated with alcohol consumption are well documented and are borne by society, that is those costs as spillovers and negative externalities are socialized.

    How the Alberta Margaret Thatcher clone would square that circle would be an interesting exercise in ‘spin’, where; “‘Spin’ is the polite word for deception. Spinners mislead by means that range from subtle omission to outright lies. Spin paints a false picture of reality, by bending facts, mischaracterizing the words of others, ignoring or denying evidence, or just ‘spinning a yarn’–by making things up.”

    See also,


    Because, “Governments bear direct costs within the health care and criminal justice systems, but indirect costs are largely borne by employers and family members.”

    And where,
    “Ontario witnessed an increase in hospitalizations when it expanded alcohol sales into grocery stores. And Alberta made a big mistake in the 1990s by privatizing all liquor sales, causing rates of alcohol consumption to increase in Alberta when consumption in the rest of the country was in decline.”


  18. headline G&M…DR Deena Hinshaw to join our Dr Bonnie Henry as temporary deputy health ministers–??…paywall…

  19. I didn’t realize how many folks reading this blog make a habit of judgin folks consumption. Just so We are clear, a bar, a convenience store, a supervised Injection site THESE ARE ALL THE SAME THING.

  20. So, is Danielle actually on her “international holiday ” right now? on her Twitter account today, picture was the same one she posted on Jan 20th when she was in Banff….how very curious ???
    While the cat’s away…

  21. Dale and Larry are Alberta’s version of the Ontario Conservatives’ “Buck a Beer” 2018 election campaign slogan.

    I asked my kid brother which way he was gonna vote and he replied, “you can’t turn your nose up at a buck a beer.” He claimed to have had an epiphany in one of Ontario’s antiquated Brewers’ Retail stores where he locked eyes with the fella just ahead of him in the single line: just one look is all it took to signal the virtue of their mutual complaint, the price of the working man’s suds, just as another two-four rolled through the small, square opening on the wall and the column shuffled one more customer toward the cash register like a workhouse gruel-line.

    Yes, I’d seen those campaign ads: the D’ohFo’s meaty mit holding a can of brew, wheezing, “Imagine, my friends: a buck a beer, friends, a buck a beer!” It’s hard to tell how much the gimmick worked because the Liberal incumbent, first gay Premier of Ontario (at least) leading the tired, 15 year-old government she’d inherited, had become so unpopular she was reduced to begging voters to be cast for her other rival, the NDP, to forestall the Ford Nation juggernaut, a case of premature admission of defeat. That, at least, didn’t work.

    For a while I’d take a dig at my brother: “Soooooo, how’s that buck a beer thing coming, heh, heh, heh…?” Until I realized he wasn’t finding it funny so I quit doing it (kinda like how I read so much about how alcohol consumption carried significant health risks that I quit reading).

    Anyway, the rising price of suds notwithstanding, Ontario voters were apparently beswoggled enough to re-elect the D’ohFo government just last year.

    But the tactic doesn’t always work. BC Socred Premier Bill Vander Zalm —who lived in a castle in the Fantasy Gardens theme park—found his popularity sliding like a stripper down a dance pole, so he relieved a bit of tax on a glass of beer-parlour draft (recalling that when his predecessor raised the cost of a golden vessel by a nickel to 25¢ there were almost riots in the streets—that is, until the pubs opened for the morning shift). Failing to stem the ebbing tide, the Zalm then permitted bars to open on Sundays, whence calendar sales crashed and bootleggers wandered the alleyways, lost, not knowing one day from the next. I remember it well. Barely.

    At last resort before the Zalm was summarily fired by his caucus, they hit on the idea of putting a Citizens’ Initiative proposition on the upcoming election ballot: voters heartily embraced the idea but thrashed the Socreds anyway—so bad the party never recovered. But the Zalm got his revenge when, 20 years later, he sponsored the Anti- Harmonized Sales Tax Petition allowed by that very CI legislation: it spelled the beginning of the end for BC Liberal premier Gordon Campbell whose mugshot for DUI on holiday in Hawaii voters forgave, but who, in this case, was fired by his own cabinet because voters roundly disapproved of his recent election campaign promise NOT to bring in the HST—then do it anyway once he won his third—and last—term. It was the first time, after dozens of failed Recall attempts, that CI legislation actually worked in BC.

    Hitherto, Gordo had permitted the private beer and wine stores—thence hard liquor outlets— which are ubiquitous nowadays. Which is prob’ly why BC re-elected his bubble-headed caretaker premier Christy Clark who looked and acted like a party girl just going to or coming from a boozy overnighter. (If I recall right, she never resorted to the kind of beer-bribery Upper Canada’s bro of Hogtown’s crackhead mayor did—she didn’t have to: when the HST Referendum convincingly rejected the hated tax—the first time a legislated tax had been repealed in 800 years of Westminster parliamentary history—jubilant citizens could party for weeks, nonstop, and not realize that Christy would soon win a mandate of her own and become the worst premier BC ever had.)

    Dr Deena Hinshaw just staggered from summary firing in Alberta to a related public health job in BC. I doubt she’ll be contemplating the sunset on mushrooms on some white-sand, West Coast beach, but nobody’d probably notice if she did—at least not until we reduce our intake to two drinks a week in a century or so.

    The real question is: will beer bribery work in Alberta? Dale and Larry seem to think so as they quaff their cans of Alta 7.11

  22. The red-tape reduction created by Kenney’s government generated more bureaucratic procedures and heavy management layers. Typical of the GoA.

  23. When has this UCP group of altra right politicians been straight about any thing. Regulation only for things that other political viewers need. Kenney spent three years gaslighting on every imaginable aspect of Alberta. Shandro isn’t fit to be a lawyer or a politician. This week he released condfidential data on an enemy while testifying at the law society hearing and not one lawyer in the room or on the tribunal noticed. It took a Tyee reporter to point it out. In the meantime our new Premier continues with foot in mouth disease daily. Trying to pick a fight with Trudeau. Hopefully enough Calgarians see thru this sham.

  24. How are the new “free speech” requirements for post secondary education a red tape reduction? Is it that the UCP says one thing but that the polar opposite is true? Like their 2019 campaign slogan … “Jobs, Economy, Pipelines”. They just didn’t clearly state what they would do with each of these.

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