LCBO sells booze to 14-year-old in burka, no questions asked

Jordana Divon
Contributing Writer
Daily Brew

A stunt orchestrated by the Sun News Network has shed light on how easy it can be for minors to buy alcohol in the Greater Toronto Area — provided they dress the part.

As the Toronto Sun reports, controversial broadcaster and writer David Menzies sent a 14-year-old boy clad in a full-length burka and face veil to buy liquor at three LCBOs north of the city.

His goal, he said, was to expose deficiencies in the province's Liquor Licence Act, which prohibits the sale of alcohol to anyone under the age of 19, and to challenge their claims of social responsibility.

The three unopened bottles, he said, were later taken from the teen after he left the store.

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Menzies told viewers he received inspiration for the stunt, which aired under his show's "Operation Menzoid" segment," by a tip from a friend who had seen this occur at a number of LCBO locations.

Videotape of the alcohol odyssey shows a burka-clad figure, face covered (barring a pair of white sunglasses), selecting a bottle off the shelf and taking it to an LCBO cash register.

In a montage of three separate, date-stamped incidents, the cashier rings up the purchase without asking the individual for identification.

Under the organization's Check 25 program, cashiers are instructed to ask for the IDs of anyone who appears to look younger than 25 years of age.

An important part of that requirement is for staff to "look at the customer's face in full."

"Where a customer wears a burka or niqab, LCBO staff endeavour to explain customer requirements under the law in a culturally sensitive manner," Menzies read from what he identified as company policy.

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When he approached the LCBO's corporate headquarters for an interview, Menzies was told head office staff had declined to speak on camera.

LCBO spokesman Chris Layton did, however, send out an email stressing that staff are required to ask customers to remove face coverings, but that they may have been attempting to be "culturally sensitive" in all three cases.

"The last thing we want is minors purchasing alcohol ... that would be something we would certainly want to look into," he added.

Menzies said his big problem with the incident, aside from the fact that an eighth grader managed to illegally purchase three bottles of Sambuca, is that political correctness can get in the way of protecting the country's broader societal — and legal — goals.

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Furthermore, he said, the LCBO's monopoly offers them an accountability loophole.

"Guess who's exempt from the auspices of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission?" he asked viewers. "The LCBO. So they distribute the liquor, they retail the liquor and they regulate themselves doing so."

Meanwhile, critics of the host's undercover crackdown flipped the legal accountability finger back at Menzies, calling for his arrest over "coercing" a young boy to purchase alcohol and for "corrupting the morals of a minor."

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