The Beer Store is stepping up its fight to turn Ontarians against a proposal to sell booze in convenience stores and gas stations.

The company owned by three major foreign brewers has produced a 30-second television ad featuring world curling champion and Beer Store manager Glenn Howard, in its ongoing publicity battle with the Ontario Convenience Stores Association.

The ad touches on The Beer Store’s claim that minors would have an easier time purchasing or obtaining alcohol if sales were allowed in convenience stores.

It’s a claim the OCSA denies. The association insists convenience stores do a better job than The Beer Store and LCBO at keeping age-restricted products from minors.

OCSA and The Beer Store – owned by Labatt (Anheuser-Busch InBev), Molson Coors (headquartered in Denver and Montreal) and Sleeman (Sapporo) – have been engaged in a war of words for months, as they try to sway MPPs and public opinion in their favour.

Both sides have funded public opinion polls and set up websites with facts or claims supporting their position.

The Beer Store claims prices and government costs will increase and jobs will be lost if sales expand to convenience stores and gas stations.

OCSA argues The Beer Store is trying to protect its retail monopoly. The association says the market will determine the price and Ontarians will have more choice and convenience.

Last year, Mac’s Convenience Stores said it would build 27 new stores and add up to 170 full-time jobs if the province changes the rules.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne previously said the province has no plans to allow convenience stores to sell booze. Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak supports the proposal.

Last week, the Liberal government announced it is opening 10 LCBO “express” outlets in grocery stores that don’t have a nearby liquor store.

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