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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Age requirement for firefighters in Salmon Arm lowered

Three-month probation period replaced by longer recruit training

Shuswap dragon boat team honours Terry Fox in its own way

Close to $1,000 raised on the 40th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope

Theft-related charges in Salmon Arm deliver accused 140 days in jail

Man sentenced must also stay away from 10th Street SW and two local businesses

Okanagan College expands ‘Wellness Wednesdays’ to all students this fall

Wellness Wednesday workshops are designed to be psycho-educational

Fuel Good Day pumps up North Okanagan-Shuswap charities

Cheques for more than $2,500 handed over to three organizations in annual fundraiser

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

Attorney General defends Kelowna Mountie involved in rough arrest

Tyler Russell filed a lawsuit against Const. Siggy Pietrzak in June of this year

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

‘Perfect storm’ causes influx of black widows in the Okanagan

The region’s only venomous spider has come out in full force this year

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Suspected human remains found in burned out vehicle on OKIB land

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP hand over investigation to Major Crimes

Kamloops RCMP search for armed robber of pizza restaurant

The incident unfolded on Monday evening at the Sahali Domino’s store

Most Read