The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled last April that provincial and territorial governments have the authority to restrict imports of goods from other jurisdictions and that Canadians do not have a constitutional right to buy and freely transport alcohol across provincial and territorial borders. (Black Press Media file photo)

Ottawa moves to lift alcohol trade restrictions, urges provinces to do the same

It’s up to provinces and territories to enact changes that would allow for direct-to-consumer sales

The federal government has introduced legislation that it says will remove a final federal barrier to the easier flow of beer, wine and spirits across provincial and territorial boundaries.

Now, it says, it’s up to the provinces and territories to enact changes of their own that would allow for direct-to-consumer sales of alcohol across Canada.

Internal Trade Minister Dominic LeBlanc says the legislation, once passed, will remove the federal requirement that alcohol moving from one province to another go through a provincial liquor authority.

The issue has rankled consumers for decades and was forced under a media spotlight a year ago when a New Brunswick man lost a five-year court battle to buy cheap beer in neighbouring Quebec.

READ MORE: Distillers hope federal budget scraps alcohol escalator tax

The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled last April that provincial and territorial governments have the authority to restrict imports of goods from other jurisdictions and that Canadians do not have a constitutional right to buy and freely transport alcohol across provincial and territorial borders.

LeBlanc said Tuesday that Canadians have been frustrated by provincial and territorial trade restrictions for too long.

He has proposed changes to the federal Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act that would aid lower levels of government in lifting those restrictions on the sale of Canadian beer, wine and spirits between provinces and territories. The changes are in the bill implementing the federal budget.

“The proposed legislative amendments would remove the only remaining federal barrier to trade in alcohol, and the onus will be on provincial and territorial governments to change their own regulations, paving the way for direct-to-consumer alcohol sales from across Canada,” LeBlanc said in a statement.

“Removing barriers to trade between provinces and territories fosters economic growth, reduces the regulatory burden on our small and medium-sized businesses, and creates good, middle-class jobs across the country.”

Andrea Stairs, who manages eBay in Canada and Latin America, welcomed the federal move but said “the hard work now turns to provincial governments.”

“Interprovincial trade of alcohol is an opportunity to unlock economic prosperity by enabling Canada’s (small and medium-sized businesses) to trade more freely,” she said in a statement.

Shortly after last year’s Supreme Court ruling, the New Brunswick government indicated changes could be coming to the province’s liquor laws.

But the province’s treasury-board president Roger Melanson, who is also the minister responsible for trade policy, also noted that regulation of the alcohol trade in New Brunswick brings tens of millions of dollars into provincial coffers annually — money that is redistributed to services including health care, education and infrastructure.

The country’s premiers last summer announced an agreement in principle to lift limits on how much alcohol residents can buy for personal consumption and transport across boundaries.

Alberta and Manitoba have eliminated cross-border alcohol sales limits entirely.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Storm causes blackout across northern B.C.

Lightning and downed trees knocked out power for more than 4,000 Terrace customers

Skeena Voices | No villager left behind

Business owner Boota Singh uses 10 per cent of his profit to fund cancer and eye care in India

Wet’suwet’en clan launches civil lawsuit against Coastal GasLink

Gidimt’en seeking damages and costs over destruction of logging road encampment and gate

RCMP searching for missing Lax Kw’alaams resident

Public urged to help in search for 42-year-old Lawrence Maitland

Coast Tsimshian sign historic stewardship agreement

Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla plan to work as one to preserve traditional lands

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

Provincial health body refuses to release full findings of cancer triage system audit

Information and Privacy Commissioner asked to review redactions

Southern resident killer whale died of blunt trauma, likely from ship

J34 was found more than two years ago near Sechelt, but the necropsy findings have now been released

B.C. rail crossing death highlights risks for people in wheelchairs: watchdog

Transportation Safety Board points to ‘persistent risks faced by persons using assistive devices’

B.C. teens wanted in double homicide, suspicious death spotted in Manitoba

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were thought to have been seen in the Gillam area

Memorial bench painted by Vancouver woman to stay in park for now

Park board to look at options for artistic enhancements on commemorative benches

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

Wrestling legend finds his wedding dance groove in B.C.

Professional wrestler Chris Jericho posted on social media that he was in Penticton recently

Most Read