From the northernmost portion of Canada comes a salient lesson on mankind’s bottomless thirst for booze—a thirst that we’ll go to ridiculous lengths to slake:
The announcement of an alcohol task force comes on the heels of a string of bootlegging busts across the territory. At a news conference Wednesday, RCMP Sgt. Jimmy Akavak said the police seized $400,000 worth of bootleg booze since January alone.
Bottles can command high prices, especially in dry communities, where a 60-ounce bottle of vodka can go for as much as $600, Akavak said.
As he spoke, Akavak stood next to a massive display of hundreds of bottles of alcohol, mostly vodka, that police seized in recent raids. Akavak said 80 to 90 per cent of the RCMP’s workload is related to alcohol.
To put that CN$600-per-bottle figure in perspective, you need to realize that the average per-capita income in Nunavut is approximately CN$11,000. That means the residents of the territory’s dry counties are willing to spend 5.5 percent of their annual income on a single bottle of Smirnoff vodka (the region’s most popular tipple, according to the Nunavut Liquor Commission).
Our stock solution here is to end prohibition—it would instantly eliminate the black market, and free up the Mounties to tackle other pressing issues. But we’re also sensitive to the terrible havoc that booze has wreaked on many Arctic communities over the years. Is there a middle-ground solution here?
Earlier on Microkhan: Is prohibition actually working in the Alaskan hinterlands?