Nunavut steps closer to easing alcohol rules

Amendments to Nunavut's Liquor Act passed on to the committee stage in the legislature Thursday. If passed, the territory could see restrictions on alcohol eased.

Proposed changes to territory’s Liquor Act headed for committee review

Nunavut is one step closer to selling alcohol directly to customers in some communities.

Amendments to the territory’s Liquor Act were introduced this week in the Legislative Assembly.

There are four proposed changes:

  • a pilot project to have liquor stores open in the territory.
  • stiffer fines for bootleggers: $25,000 for a first offence, and up to $50,000 for a second offence, which is in line with a task force recommendation for larger fines.
  • increased amounts of liquor a person can import: three litres of spirits or nine litres of wine, or 26 litres of beer.
  • the Liquor Revolving Fund could be used for alcohol education campaigns.

"As the minister responsible for the liquor act, I’m not just going to open liquor stores without talking to people. There would be community consultations, talking to community councils and other groups to see how they feel about it," said Finance Minister Keith Peterson.

Some MLAs don't agree with simply amending the Act. They said there should be a new one.

Keith Peterson, the minister responsible for the Nunavut Liquor Commission, said he won't introduce changes to the Liquor Act without consulting with residents. (CBC)

"When our government started, they had said that the Liquor Act would be reviewed in the Tamapta mandate. Communities were consulted, yet the whole act is not being amended," said Louis Tapardjuk, Amittuq MLA.

The bill passed second reading Thursday. All cabinet members and three regular MLAs voted in favour. Three MLAs voted against, and four abstained from the vote.

The bill is now heading to a standing committee for review. The committee has 120 days to report back to the legislature.