The “industry will collapse” : South Okanagan winery reacts to ruling

Okanagan Falls winery concerned for the future of the industry after Supreme Court ruling

Small wineries don’t have much of a future if inter-provincial trade barriers aren’t lifted.

That is the belief of Ian MacDonald, president and founder of Liquidity Wines Ltd., after a Supreme Court released a ruling Thursday that failed to do just that.

Related: Supreme Court upholds law in cross-border booze case

“If you look 10 or 20 years down the road it will not be very robust or healthy. If there isn’t direct-to-consumer shipping I feel like the industry will collapse over time. Small wineries in places like California, Washington State and Oregon wouldn’t survive the same thing,” said McDonald. “I don’t think the small winery would exist long-term without the opportunity. It will be just a couple of large groups that control wineries and the products. Then you will have controlled and monopolized pricing, restricted production and lose access to small-batched quality wine.”

Related: Supreme Court of Canada ruling a “missed opportunity”

The Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling on Her Majesty the Queen v. Gerard Comeau, which challenged restrictions on interprovincial trade, an issue the wineries and related associations have been working on for over a decade to allow direct-to-consumer shipping across the country.

In October 2012, Comeau purchased beer and spirits in Quebec and drove back to New Brunswick. He was charged with possessing liquor purchased from outside the province in quantities that exceeded the province’s prescribed limit, an offence under section 134 of the New Brunswick Liquor Control Act. The trial judge held that section 134(b) of the Liquor Control Act constitutes a trade barrier (violating section 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867) and dismissed the charge against him. The case subsequently made its way to the Supreme Court.

However, MacDonald said there were several other components in the decision that will need a lawyer’s fine-tooth comb to go through. He, along with four other Okanagan wineries banded together to act as interveners in the Supreme Court appeal. MacDonald said the door is not quite closed and there could be future legal challenges to make a case for more universal and freer movement of goods between provinces.

Related: Canada’s Supreme Court to hear from small B.C. wineries

“Movement in this direction is critical and it is not just the wine industry … once we lose the ability of free movement of goods and services throughout our nation and are guided by punitive practices then I think the whole concept of Canada comes under question,” he said.

MacDonald added that the freedom to have direct-to-consumer shipment across a nation’s borders is not a new idea.

“There is no other wine-producing country in the world that faces these kind of restrictive regulations. We are not asking for something that we dreamed up. It has worked extremely effective in other countries … we just want to be treated in this industry the way others are treated globally.”

The disappointing decision for MacDonald is a sentiment echoed by many in the wine industry on Thursday.

“This morning’s ruling is disappointing for our industry. Every wine producing nation in the world has direct sales within its own country” said Tony Stewart, proprietor and CEO of Quails’ Gate Winery. “Canada needs to correct this so that we can start to create a level playing field with the rest of the world.”

Kristi Patton | Editor


Send Kristi Patton an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Neighbours raise concerns about proposed housing development in Salmon Arm

Objections to 11th Street SE plans include increased traffic, diversion of creek, loss of greenspace

Morning Start: Dogs can smell cancer

Your morning start for Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Salmon Arm Council pleased with plans for Habitat for Humanity housing project

Twenty-unit building, mainly for 55-plus seniors, in the works

B.C. highway widening job reduced, costs still up $61 million

Union-only project scales back work to widen Trans-Canada

Salmon Arm pool to reopen for limited programming, not drop ins

Strict sanitization protocols in place including one-hour closure between scheduled swims

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

Indigenous man behind complaint of BC Transplant’s alcohol abstinence policy has died

David Dennis, who is Nuu-chah-nulth, argued that six-month sobriety policy is a ‘lethal form of racism’

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Urge travellers to follow COVID-19 rules in a ‘gentle way’: B.C.’s top doctor

Cases surging in the U.S. have B.C. officials hoping the border stays shut all summer

Shuswap history in pictures: Three-legged race

Race captured on a glass plate negative

Two dead after weekend crash on Highway 1 near Revelstoke

The driver and passenger of one vehicle died at the scene

96-year-old woman scales B.C. butte with help of family, friends

‘I did as I was told and I enjoyed every minute of it’

Most Read