Nunavut law changes liquor rules

Nunavut passed a new law that could allow pilot projects for beer and wine stores in some communities, increase the amount of liquor that can be personally imported and impose heavier fines on bootleggers.

Nunavut's liquor laws are set to change after MLAs yesterday voted to amend the Liquor Act on the last day of the last sitting of this legislative assembly. 

Bill 64 amends the current Liquor Act to allow pilot projects for beer and wine stores in some communities, increase the amount of liquor that can be personally imported and impose heavier fines on bootleggers. 

Amittuq MLA Louis Tapardjuk and Rankin Inlet North MLA Tagak Curley opposed the amendments. The two have already announced they won't be running in the upcoming territorial election, but they both tried to stall the passage of Bill 64 on Tuesday.

More access to alcohol may be seen as freedom of choice, "but freedom of choice allowing them to have more, increase in violence, family problems, and law and order infractions related to alcohol is not one we should be dealing with on the last day of this assembly," Curley said.

But despite Curley and Tapardjuk's opposition, the bill passed third reading before the legislature was prorogued.

Finance Minister Keith Peterson says he knows last year's liquor task force recommended a new law. But he says officials took a measured approach in amending the current act.

He said the government looked at the overall theme of liberalizing liquor. Peterson says the current restrictions aren't working. "Some of these prohibitions and restrictions are forcing people to bootleggers and that's just not acceptable," Peterson said.

Beer and wine stores won't open immediately. Peterson says that would only happen with community consultation and support.

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