In light of recent events in our industry and city, and after reflective conversation internally, we thought we would share a few thoughts.
This past weekend, a group of breweries representing the Ontario Craft Brewers Association were pictured with Sam Oosterhoff, an MPP for Niagara West, after a discussion was hosted in the region about advancing our industry. For the unaware, Sam Oosterhoff has been a divisive figure to say the least. Maybe that’s saying it nicely…. he wants to destroy the rights of women and the LGBTQ+ community.
MERIT was not part of this discussion, nor are we members of the OCB, but we would like to say that we are unequivocally against the views of MPP Oosterhoff and outraged over the OCB’s decision to promote their work with him as some sort of gain for the industry or brushed off as part of their responsibility to work with the government.
When the rights and safety of our communities are threatened, the advancement of our industry, or success of any of our businesses is not a priority. First and foremost, as an industry we need to look after the safety and well-being of our staff, our guests, our colleagues, and the communities in which we exist in.
Today, on a local level, we faced what seems like a similar situation. MERIT, amongst 39 other business in Hamilton, were set to be recognized at City Hall for their growth and economic impact. Part of this recognition came in the form of each of the businesses being called up for a photo with our Mayor, Fred Eisenberger. We consciously decided to leave for this portion of the event and instead to collect the plaque recognizing MERIT after the ceremony had finished. While Mayor Eisenberger was very supportive of our business as we navigated the muddy waters of City Hall licensing and zoning, his recent (lack of) response to attacks on the LGBTQ+ community in Hamilton have left us extremely disappointed and standing in unity with the community in which he is seemingly content with ignoring or simply providing token support for. While we are proud of what we have started to build as a company, we believe that we can ask those in power to do better and ask this of our Mayor and any organization that represents our industry, members or not.
How to do better? Engage your community’s leaders, listen first, act in allyship, protect those who are most vulnerable to prejudice, and on an ongoing basis ask yourself ‘how can we do better?’.
At the beginning and end of every day, what we really want to do here is make great beer, great food, and provide a great experience for everyone who we have the privilege of serving as our guest.
It would be great to spend all of our time doing that, while being confident in our leaders’ ability to actually lead when situations like the aforementioned arise. Until that happens we’ll be here standing up for what we believe in and thank those standing with us.
Thank you for your support.
– The MERIT family