About Liquor Plebiscites

Plebiscites related to liquor licensing, prohibition or restriction fall under the Liquor Act. This law governs the import, purchase and consumption of alcohol in Nunavut. Liquor plebiscites are ordered by the Minister, overseen by the Chief Electoral Officer, and usually initiated by voters in the area in the form of a petition.

Plebiscites often seek to determine whether a given community will prohibit alcohol, restrict it, or allow it. An example of a question could be “Are you in favour of ending the current system of liquor restriction in [this community] and having an unrestricted system where only the general liquor laws of Nunavut apply?” This was the question posed in the Kugluktuk Liquor plebiscite in 2018. A more recent plebiscite in Gjoa Haven asked if the community was in favour of moving from a prohibition system to a restricted one.

Generally speaking, liquor plebiscites are binding when more than 60 percent of electors vote in favour of a specific option. If a community decides to restrict or prohibit alcohol, the decision is recorded in the regulations of the Liquor Act.