New Brunswick

Conservatives call for Comeau case referral to Supreme Court

The federal Conservatives are calling for the Trudeau government to refer a New Brunswick court case dealing with the interprovincial movement of alcohol for personal use to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Opposition says case about interprovincial alcohol movement can clarify Section 121 of Constitution

Conservative MP Dan Albas who has already fought for interprovincial wine trade now wants MPs to back his Private Members Bill that would get rid of similar barriers against beer. 1:00

The federal Conservatives are calling for the Trudeau government to refer a New Brunswick court case dealing with the interprovincial movement of alcohol for personal use to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Official Opposition Deputy Leader Denis Lebel and interprovincial trade critic Dan Albas said the case of Gerard Comeau can be used to clarify Section 121 of the Constitution dealing the interprovincial trade.

The Supreme Court "should also comment on which products, jurisdictions and types of barriers are covered by the Comeau ruling," Albas said in a statement released on Monday.

Deputy Opposition Leader Denis Lebel wants the federal government to act as an intervener in the New Brunswick government's appeal of the Comeau case to the New Brunswick Court of Appeal. (CBC)
In April, provincial court Judge Ronald LeBlanc dismissed a charge against Comeau of violating the New Brunswick Liquor Control Act by bringing 14 cases of beer and three bottles of alcohol into New Brunswick from Quebec.

The province's liquor regulations only allow for the importation of 12 pints of beer or one bottle of alcohol or wine for personal use.

LeBlanc ruled the liquor regulation violated free-trade provisions in Section 121 of the Constitution Act, which states: "All articles of the growth, produce or manufacture of any of the provinces shall, and from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other provinces."

On Friday, the New Brunswick government announced it is seeking leave to appeal the Comeau ruling directly to the New Brunswick Court of Appeal.

Gerard Comeau was charged for bringing too much alcohol into New Brunswick from Quebec. (Bridget Yard/CBC)
The federal Consevatives are also calling on the federal government to act as an intervener if the Court of Appeal agrees to hear the Comeau appeal.

"It is time to free the beer and free the Canadian economy," said Lebel. "Free trade between Canadians is a constitutional right."

The Conservatives point to a report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business that estimates internal trade barriers cost the Canadian economy $14 billion.

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