Hasta Luego! Lorena Patterson, SVP Public Affairs and Policy departs Spirits Canada; accepts new role as President and CEO in energy sector

 

Lorena has been a valued leader at Spirits Canada over the last two years and continues to advocate for the spirits industry – click here to read Lorena’s departure post. Spirits Canada wishes Lorena all the best in this exciting new leadership role. See you on The Hill!

A few departing words from Lorena: 

Hasta Luego!

Working with Spirits Canada has been a highlight of my career and it couldn’t have happened at a more exciting time. Canada is a challenging market for many industries but this is especially the case for spirits alcohol.

I have spent most of my professional career interacting with state owned monopolies, and will continue to do so in my next chapter. In many cases, political considerations and market dominance are the drivers of most of these organizations. Commercial interests and transparency are often eclipsed by other matters.

In Canada there is tremendous interest throughout society in ensuring every minority is treated fairly. In the beverage alcohol business, however, the balance of power is incredibly skewed. While natural monopolies like energy companies are subjected to a regulatory system that ensures the rate payers (consumers) and the service providers (sellers) are treated fairly, provincial liquor boards are not subjected to any such check on their power.

This industry hasn’t changed much since consumers used to drive Model T Fords to their local liquor store to purchase a bottle of beverage alcohol. Out of obvious self-interest, provinces have every incentive to protect their liquor boards, to the detriment of both consumers and suppliers. And suppliers have benefited from having one very large customer, which facilitates sales.

Without change, however, everyone in this equation will lose. Decreasing margins never lead to increased investments, and dwindling competition rarely leads to lower prices. There is plenty of competition abroad for investments in this industry and corporations will do what they must to protect the value of their investments for their shareholders.

I am hopeful that the intensity of the light that is currently shining on some of the liquor boards will continue to increase, forcing change. Monopolies rarely change course unless they are ordered to do so by the states that own them, or by another order of government, such as a court. This possibility exists now, as it has never existed before. Spirits Canada members are large, strong and united. Your resolve to address this difficult issue has the potential to effect some serious change in the Canadian beverage alcohol industry.

As I transition from being an advocate for the industry to being a consumer, I will continue to hope for change. Consumers are voters, and they matter to provincial political representatives. International trade representatives are providing additional pressure on the federal government to lean in. One success may be all it takes to bring this industry into the 21st century.

I wish you all the best and thank you for sharing your time and resources with me over the past two years. Spirits Canada is in good hands and is well equipped to meet the current challenges and those that are yet to come.

Cheers!

Lorena

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