Drink History Canada

Issues in the history of the consumption, manufacture, and regulation of drink in Canada


  • Distortions: What is a rational actor to do?

    One of the challenges facing the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction relating to its Low Risk Drinking Guidelines is its hope to provide clear information to the general public. In an article in the Toronto Star on 29 January (behind a pay wall, sorry), the co-chair of the project to develop the guidelines,… Continue reading

  • Distortions: Always check the fine print.

    You know that when you are about to sign a contract, standard advice is “read the fine print.” It’s to your own benefit. You’re about to sign something (*a job contract, lease, rental agreement, etc) that affects your behaviour or life, and without understanding what you’re getting yourself into, you could be in trouble. The… Continue reading

  • Distortions: About drinking, pregnancy, and the power of rhetoric

    One of the generally accepted assumptions about drinking is that women who are pregnant should not do it at all. “No amount is safe” is the mantra. That was thrown at me by CBC’s Matt Galloway (an otherwise well-informed, critical interviewer) when I mentioned drinking and pregnancy and the stigma women face in the event… Continue reading

  • Distortions: Give up it’s all over you’ve already drunk too much, loser.

    Probably one of the most powerful statements I’ve received from people who have written me to thank my for my perspective on the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction low risk guidance on alcohol have come from people for whom these guidelines (and the dire though problematic statement that more than 7 drinks “radically”… Continue reading

  • Distortions: Am I really going to get tuberculosis from drinking?

    No. Ok, let’s be scholarly: not likely. Read on. According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA), there is a link between alcohol consumption and tuberculosis (TB) worthy of your attention. In their report released for consultation (in August 2022), TB was at the bottom of the table of potential harms. See… Continue reading

  • Distortions: Bias and perspective. Aka: follow the money.

    In this business, the research business, there is a general understanding that money can affect bias. Most responsible scientific publications these days require researchers to declare conflicts of interest. This is important so readers can place the research they are reading into some kind of context, and identify if a bias might exist. So for… Continue reading

  • Distortions: The broad category of “Class 1 Carcinogen”

    In the ongoing discussion of links between alcohol consumption and cancer, we hear this statement: Alcohol is a known class one carcinogen. That sounds pretty scary. I’m not about to dismiss the seriousness of cancer (although as Susan Sontag did , I am concerned about how it is framed). What I do want to discuss… Continue reading

  • Distortions: A moderate perspective on an immoderate proposal

    The release of the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction’s low risk alcohol guidelines happen to correspond with the second reading of Senator Patrick Brazeau’s Bill S-254 “An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (warning label on alcoholic beverages).” Well “happen” makes it sound like a coincidence, but it seems like this… Continue reading

  • Distortions: An infographic to sow skepticism.

    This has been a busy week on the booze limits front. I have been doing a lot of media, responding to a lot of email, (writing a lot of blog posts) and fielding a lot of requests for meetings. I also have a day job teaching students and doing research that isn’t about drinking limits.… Continue reading

  • Distortions: Social connection and health.

    When the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) released its so called Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidance for public consultation in August, I was irritated. I had seen this sort of temperance rhetoric before and to no good end, despite the good intentions of the advocates. I wrote about this a few days back.… Continue reading

About Me

An English diarist and naval administrator. I served as administrator of the Royal Navy and Member of Parliament. I had no maritime experience, but I rose to be the Chief Secretary to the Admiralty under both King Charles II and King James II through patronage, diligence, and my talent for administration.

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