Politics

Ottawa moves to lift alcohol trade restrictions, urges provinces to do the same

The federal government has introduced legislation that it says will remove a final federal barrier to the easier flow of beer, wine and spirits across provincial and territorial boundaries.
The federal government's budget implementation bill proposes to eliminate one of the barriers to the interprovincial trade of alcohol - but the provinces will still need to take steps before direct-to-consumer sales can occur. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The federal government has introduced legislation that it says will remove a final federal barrier to the easier flow of beer, wine and spirits across provincial and territorial boundaries.

Now, it says, it's up to the provinces and territories to enact changes of their own that would allow for direct-to-consumer sales of alcohol across Canada.

Internal Trade Minister Dominic LeBlanc says the legislation, once passed, will remove the federal requirement that alcohol moving from one province to another go through a provincial liquor authority.

The issue has rankled consumers for decades and was forced under a media spotlight a year ago when a New Brunswick man lost a five-year court battle to buy cheap beer in neighbouring Quebec.

The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled last April that provincial and territorial governments have the authority to restrict imports of goods from other jurisdictions and that Canadians do not have a constitutional right to buy and freely transport alcohol across provincial and territorial borders.

LeBlanc said Tuesday that Canadians have been frustrated by provincial and territorial trade restrictions for too long.

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