| Canadian Courts Anti-Beer
by Jennifer Bartlet
Hello Bob and Friends -
You have many readers here in Canada but I don't often see letters
from us so I'm taking the initiative and writing. You many not realize
that when it comes to craft beer Canada has been pretty much on a
roll the last few years. But a major weakness of beer life in Canada
was illuminated tvery recently when our Supreme Court upheld a
ban on transporting any more than 12 pints of beer from one
province. Twelve pints?
It may be hard to believe for you south of our border but Canada's
top court upheld a New Brunswick liquor law limiting the amount of
alcohol that can be carried across its provincial border. Here's the
In 2012, Gerald Comeau was stopped and fined for bringing more
than the 12-pint limit of beer back from neighbouring Quebec.
He took the matter to court in a case quickly dubbed "free the beer".
Mr Comeau's legal battle was watched closely by industries across
the country because any change in interprovincial trade restrictions
could have had ramifications nationwide.
Mr. Comeau is a New Brunswick retiree who said he simply liked to
drive to pick up beer in the province of Quebec, where he could get
a bargain on a few cases. When returning from one trip in October
2012, he had his liquor purchases seized from his car boot, and was
fined C$292 ($230; £170).
His lawyers argued the country's internal trade barriers infringed on
Mr Comeau's constitutional rights by conflicting with a section of the
constitution that states that Canadian goods shall "be admitted free
into each of the other provinces". To clarify for you Bob, unlike your
states,most provinces set limits on the amount of alcohol a person
can bring back from another province for personal consumption.
Well, I agree with M. Comeau's argument but the judges didn't as
they issued a unanimous decision, saying that free trade across
Canada was not an absolute.
Their ruling emphasised the powers of the individual provinces to
make laws within their own jurisdictions, even if - as in the case of
New Brunswick's liquor restrictions - coincidental limits were placed
on free trade. They went on to say that Interpreting the constitution
to "require full economic integration would significantly undermine
the shape of Canadian federalism, which is built upon regional
diversity within a single nation".
Sounds good but I'm not buying it. As I see it the ruling is not only
about beer but explains how the court looks at federalism The issue
of provincial jurisdiction and federal government powers has
cropped up in a number of recent hot-button issues ihere from
cannabis to carbon taxes and pipelines.
Hope you found this interesting enough to put in your column.
Really interesting article, Jennifer. You even got me to take out an old
US history book to look at the constitutional relationship between the
federal government and the states here. Many thanks for sharing with
us - please write again!
I'd like to invite everyone to send me their own columns about
anything related to beer in any way just as Jennifer did. I select the
best and publish them here. So join in and get writing!
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