Volume 93, Issue 27

Tuesday, October 19, 1999


Editorial Board 1999-2000

Drinking the problem away

Editorial Cartoon

Drinking the problem away

Montreal, 1993. Vancouver, 1994. Woodstock, 1999. What do all of these places and times have in common? Great events, followed by great disturbances.

Over history, and especially in the last decade, riots have proven themselves to be just as dangerous and cause just as much damage as an angry mother nature. As the biggest New Year's Eve of the last 999 years approaches, cities all around the world are bracing themselves for the masses of bodies bound to take over their downtown cores.

It may seem odd that amidst all the precautionary measures being taken, the province of Newfoundland has allowed their bars to stay open all night and has obliterated "last call" for the occasion. Qu6bec is the next province set to consider this proposal. However, in what may be a profit-driven move, extending bar hours on the biggest party night of the c6ntury may, in fact, be a brilliant strategy to preserve city streets.

If people are worried about harm befalling their cities, why provide alcohol at all hours of the night? The answer, believe it or not, is crowd control. A contained group of drunks is much safer; than a street full of wandering ones. The logic is a little backwards, but it's there.

If people want to drink, they'll drink no matter what the time constraints. The danger in masses of people being simultaneously drunk doesn't have as much to do with the alcohol, as it does with thousands of people being dumped onto the streets at the same time.

Mob mentality plays a much larger part in drunken destruction than most people realize. A few drunk people stumbling down the street are relatively harm-less. It's when a few thousand other pushing and shoving drunks are thrown into the mix that things can get dangerous.

By extending bar hours into the late morning of New Year's Day, the cities are avoiding the mad rush of partiers previously destined to hit the streets all at the same time - right after last call. By letting people trickle out at the hand of their own drunkenness, the chaos which can accompany such a charged night may be avoided.

Without a doubt, if more provinces catch on and spread this trend nation-wide, there will be an uproar from people concerned about "promoting drinking" on what is already a dangerous night But bars can't be expected to remain open for all hours without making money to support its staff and inventory. It's not their responsibility to baby-sit patrons after hours. It is a smart business move which targets a huge night and benefits the city immeasurably.

Nothing in the world can stop a country of drunk people from partying like it's the last night of the millennium, but extending bar hours will at least contain and even minimize potential danger.

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