Wednesday December 06, 2017

Unlawful lager, banned bullfrogs and more: 5 provincial trade restrictions that might surprise you

New Brunswick retiree Gerard Comeau says prices in his province for beer are ridiculous, costing $27 for a dozen cans. So he goes to Quebec to buy his lager. Now a local fine has reached the Supreme Court of Canada.

New Brunswick retiree Gerard Comeau says prices in his province for beer are ridiculous, costing $27 for a dozen cans. So he goes to Quebec to buy his lager. Now a local fine has reached the Supreme Court of Canada. (Pixabay.com)

Listen 19:42

Story transcript

Questions surrounding a cache of 14 cases of beer could be the crux of a game-changing legal case potentially upending Canada's interprovincial trade restrictions.

On Wednesday, Supreme Court justices will hear the case of Gerard Comeau, a New Brunswick retiree who purchased the cases of beer — which also included three bottles of liquor —five years ago, upon returning home from Quebec. 

Comeau was caught in a police sting and fined nearly $300 for bringing more alcohol into the province than he was allowed.

Alcohol for sale

New Brunswick allows individuals to bring only 12 pints of beer or one bottle of wine or liquor into the province from another province. (Hilary Bird/CBC)

But Comeau fought back and now his case has businesses and consumers across the country watching closely, including Sandra Oldfield, founder of a B.C. winery called Tinhorn Creek. She's in Ottawa to watch this case go to court and tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti why it's so important.

"It has to do with having access to the consumers in our own country. We don't have that currently," Oldfield says.

"As British Columbia wineries, we have obviously great access to our home market but we can't ship directly to consumers across Canada."

Wineries go through liquor boards in Canada and Oldfield says typically they are looking for larger volumes which becomes an issue.

"The majority of all the wineries in B.C. are quite small and they can't supply that amount."

But it's not just beer or wine that face interprovincial trade restrictions.

Everything from fish to dairy products, liquor to eggs, and even financial services face trade restrictions. 

Not many of these things may surprise you, but some of the restrictions that remain on the books stuck out to us at The Current.

American bullfrog

Non-residents are not allowed to barter bullfrogs in Ontario, among other restrictions. So back off, you fairweather froggers out there. (Angel DiBilio/Shutterstock)

According to current interprovincial restrictions, non-residents are prohibited from doing the following things:

  • Harvesting fur in Nova Scotia.
  • Selling or bartering bullfrogs in Ontario.
  • Acquiring a commercial fishing licence in Saskatchewan. 
  • Working as a funeral director in Quebec. However, you can earn this privilege but only if you have lived in the province for one year.

Consider yourself warned.


The Current's radio segment at the top of this web post was produced by Karin Marley, Ines Colabrese and Amra Pasic.