TORONTO, July 12, 2019 /CNW/ - OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is demanding the dismissal of LCBO board chair Carmine Nigro over the widespread alcohol shortages at LCBO outlets across the province.
Nigro is a Toronto property developer and Conservative Party fundraiser who was appointed by Doug Ford earlier this year.
"Ford handed the LCBO to a Conservative Party bagman who lacks relevant experience, and now we've got widespread alcohol shortages at one of the busiest times of year," said Thomas. "This is yet another scandal the premier needs to get out in front of. Heads should roll."
The shortages follow the botched roll-out of new "warehouse management" software at the LCBO's distribution centre in Durham. Thomas said OPSEU members working at the facility warned their managers the new system was going to cause problems.
"Our members made it very clear that this was not a good idea," said Thomas. "But management decided to ignore frontline workers and the ultimate responsibility for that decision rests with Nigro. He should be booted out the door."
OPSEU First Vice-President / Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida said the timing of the shortages plays right into the hands of the private companies lobbying to take over and profit from Ontario's public alcohol system.
"Nigro is either totally incompetent or there's something more nefarious going on here," said Almeida. "It looks like a classic move right out of the privatization playbook: First, you make the public system worse. And then when people are fed up with the empty shelves and shortages, you tell them the only way you can fix the system is by privatizing it."
A number of corporations are eager to take over Ontario's alcohol system, including an Alberta-based alcohol and cannabis retailer called Alcanna. Shortly after Ford was elected last summer, Alcanna hired Ford's campaign communications director, Melissa Lantsman, as a lobbyist. Earlier this week, the Ottawa-based Democracy Watch called for an investigation of Lantsman's lobbying activities.
After Lantsman became a paid Alcanna lobbyist, Ford appointed an Albertan previously associated with Alcanna to make recommendations about Ontario's alcohol system. Among Ken Hughes's recommendations: consider privatizing the alcohol distribution system.
Nigro's appointment may be the worst appointment the Ford government has made, said Thomas.
"Billions of dollars that fund our hospitals and schools are at stake here. "We don't even know how much Nigro is getting paid. The previous LCBO chair reportedly made $1 a year – this new chair doesn't deserve one cent."
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
For further information: OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931