Following Russia’s highly condemned invasion of Ukraine, Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy says the provincial government has directed the LCBO to remove all products made in Russia off store shelves.
“Ontario joins Canada’s allies in condemning the Russian government’s act of aggression against the Ukrainian people, as Premier Ford stated yesterday, and we strongly support the federal government’s efforts to sanction the Russian government,” Bethlenfalvy said in a statement released Friday afternoon.
“The people of Ontario will always stand against tyranny and oppression. To that end, I am directing the LCBO to withdraw all products produced in Russia from store shelves. We will continue to be there for the Ukrainian people during this extremely difficult time.”
In a statement, the LCBO said it would begin removing all products made in Russia “immediately” from its sales channels, including 679 LCBO stores across the province, its website and LCBO Convenience Outlets.
“The LCBO stands with Ukraine, its people, and the Ukrainian Canadian community here in Ontario,” the statement read.
It said the LCBO would accept returns from wholesale customers, grocery stores and licensees.
The government did not say how much the LCBO’s business with Russia is worth. A search on the LCBO website Friday turned up just nine items listed as coming from Russia.
However the move reflects an appetite for sanctions against the country for an invasion that is being viewed as one of the biggest threats to global security since the Second World War.
The announcement came less than two hours after Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that he would be meeting with some of his senior ministers to discuss a possible ban.
At a news conference earlier in the afternoon, Ford said he is considering dropping Russian products from LCBO shelves, as well as possibly cutting off other trade with Russia, in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine.
“We were discussing this yesterday with the finance minister,” Ford told reporters when asked about the possibility.
He said dropping Russian products from the LCBO would be a “very, very small part” of the measures Ontario is considering and said he would be meeting with Bethlenfalvy and Minister of Trade Vic Fedeli soon to “find out all the trade that we do with Russia.”
On the topic, Ford said the government will work with Federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and other federal counterparts.
Ford stated, “We’re going to throw everything we have at them.”
His remarks came after Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca asked on the LCBO to remove all Russian booze from its stores, despite the fact that the premier claimed he has been thinking about it since Thursday.
Del Duca requested in a letter to LCBO president George Soleas on Friday that the provincially held Crown corporation cease all trade with Russia until Russian troops are evacuated.