Ontario prohibition referendum, 1924

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An Ontario prohibition referendum was held on October 23, 1924 on the repeal of the Ontario Temperance Act. The referendum was brought about by a clause in the Act, which permitted the possible repeal of prohibition by a majority vote.

Referendum question[edit]

  1. Are you in favour of the continuance of the Ontario Temperance Act?
  2. Are you in favour of the sale as a beverage of beer and spirituous liquor in sealed packages under government control?

Unlike past referendums, the 1924 referendum was not a yes/no question — instead, voters indicated their support for either the first statement or the second.

Results[edit]

Response to # of votes in favour % of votes in favour
Question 1 585,676 51.5
Question 2 551,761 48.5
Total 1,137,437 100.0

The measure passed by the smallest majority of any of the prohibition referendums. The cities of Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa and Windsor, areas where the ruling Conservative Party drew most of their support, voted overwhelmingly in favour of Question 2. Four months later, the party's throne speech announced intentions to begin debate on repealing restrictions on the sale of beer allowing the sale of a beer with a maximum alcohol content of 4.4% which was nicknamed "Fergie's Foam" after Premier George Howard Ferguson. The government also declared that referendums on prohibition would no longer take place; the issue would be dealt with by the legislature.

In the subsequent 1926 election, in which the Conservatives ran on a platform of repealing the Ontario Temperance Act they maintained a majority and increased their popular vote by 7% to over 57% of the popular vote, results the party took as justification to repeal prohibition. In 1927 the government passed the Act to Regulate and Control the Sale of Liquor in Ontario, which repealed the Ontario Temperance Act and created the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), a crown corporation that brought about government control over liquor. Brewers Retail Inc., a privately owned association of brewers overseen by the government, was created to regulate the sale of beer.

While some communities would pressure local governments to limit the sale of liquor until the 1970s, and while due to the efforts of William Horace Temple parts of West Toronto did not permit the sale of liquor until 2000, for all intents and purposes official temperance in Ontario had ended.

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