Prohibition In Canada

998 Words4 Pages
Prohibition, the banning of consumption and production of alcohol, was officially brought into effect throughout Canada’s provinces by 1918. During this period in Canada’s social and economic history, many factors such as, high crime rates, widespread poverty, and increasing mortality rates, drove lobby groups like the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, (WCTU ) to pressure both the Provincial and Federal governments into passing a prohibition law. Even though a prohibition law was enacted, the ability of law enforcement to enforce the liquor laws was less than effective. Cumulatively, prohibition efforts exerted by governments and lobby groups failed to achieve their intended goals, but rather their efforts added to the problems they…show more content…
The prohibition law was ineffective because of the many loopholes exploited by powerful businessmen and crime syndicates. For example, one of the most influential businessmen, Sam Bronfman, “managed to acquire a license for the purchase of pharmaceutical products, in particular, methylated spirits, which were usually used as a disinfectant.” In Bronfman’s hands the denatured alcohol was redistilled and resold as liquor, illegally. Not all forms of alcohol were illegal, providing non-prohibitionists with a way to feed their physiological wants and needs . People looking for liquor were still able, “to legally purchase alcoholic beverages with less than 2.5 percent alcohol content” . Access to low alcohol content beverages still provided those wanting a drink with legal alcohol, therefore circumventing the intent of the prohibition laws. The goals of prohibition, although achieved in spirit, were less than effective because people were still able to obtain access to both legal, and illegal alcohol…show more content…
Men like Ben Kerr, the “king” of rum-runners, and Rocco Perri, Canada’s most notorious bootlegger, both participated in violent criminal activities to achieve their illegal means. Prohibition provided criminals with an entrepreneurial opportunity to make illegal, tax-free, money. Men like Kerr quickly discovered they were, “Not breaking any Canadian laws by ferrying booze across Lake Ontario” because, “Although the Ontario Temperance Act forbade the sale of alcoholic beverages in the province, it was perfectly legal to export it, American Prohibition not withstanding.” Not all bootlegged booze, manufactured in Ontario, was destined for the American market. Some of it would go to satisfy Canadians’ thirst by being, “re-imported”. Canadian police charged with monitoring Lake Ontario’s extensive shoreline, and the rest of Canada’s expansive border, were unable to stem the tide of illegal bootlegged liquor entering into the country. This inability to prevent smuggling of alcohol gave rise to violent and uncontrolled criminal activity. Prohibition provided criminals with a reason to escalate their violent activities in the form of murders, hijackings, and
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