You might be really surprised at how much red tape is connected to that case of beer you’re picking up for the weekend.
Liquor laws in Canada are outright absurd and in some cases protectionist and unconstitutional. And the rules are different depending on which province you live in.
For instance, if you live in New Brunswick there are restrictions on how much liquor you can bring into the province. So people tend to drive to Quebec, where booze is much cheaper, but if caught, they are subject to fines. In fact, Gerard Comeau has been caught up in a legal battle with the province for just that reason.
And then there’s Alberta, where importers and breweries outside of Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia are in a legal battle with the NDP government for the massive taxes that they've implemented on what are deemed “foreign” products, some of which are actually produced right here in our own country.
Both of these cases go back to the Gold Seal case in 1921 that went to the Supreme Court of Canada.
It's not just court cases that are causing problems. Conservative Member of Parliament Dan Albas was involved with the "Free My Grapes" campaign and championed Bill C-311 which ultimately allowed for the shipment of wine and eventually other alcohol for personal use under federal law.
But in reality, the provinces still have direct control when it comes to liquor laws. Bill C-311 attempted to remove that extra federal government layer on booze laws.
It’s a really complicated topic and the government can’t do anything permanent about it. So, I talked to Derek From at the Canadian Constitution Foundation about the real solution to the problem.
He says that it ultimately rests on the Supreme Court and not the government, to eradicate all the red tape when it comes to alcohol. As Derek mentions, there’s really not much that can be done until actual laws completely change and these issues are out of the hands of the government.