Wine trade within Canada still being blocked
Few provinces allow consumers to order from outside wineries, despite change in federal law
Small Canadian wine producers say provincial barriers are still making it difficult for consumers to order from outside their home province, one year after the federal government eased its own restrictions.
Parliament last year removed its ban on interprovincial wine orders, but most provinces still block consumers from ordering from wineries in other parts of the country.
One vineyard owner says he still has trouble even shipping to provinces next door, and he's calling on provincial governments to change their laws.
"We get a lot of requests from outside of the province for our wines," Bruce Ewert, owner of L'Acadie Vineyards, told the CBC's Rosemary Barton.
"From our point of view, from a producer point of view, it's mainly the other provinces that have to open up their borders for us to ship to them."
Ewert says being able to ship to more provinces would mean a 20 to 25 per cent boost to his business.
"We're fairly well-known and we get requests all the time, so to be able to ship to these people instead of saying 'sorry, we can't because of interprovincial barriers,' would be quite good for us. We'd be able to ship a lot more wine."
Federal government urges provinces to change
Rowland Dunning, a spokesman for the provincial liquor control boards, says the provinces don't want to lose the tax revenue they get from selling through liquor stores. That's worth about $300 million a year.
"[People advocating for changes] just want to lobby to get the products into consumers' hands and avoid those consumers and the wineries paying their fair share of taxes and mark-ups," he said.
Dunning says consumers can order privately through their provincial liquor stores.
A spokeswoman for Industry Minister James Moore — who's also a British Columbia MP — says the federal government has removed all its barriers to the interprovincial wine trade.
"All provinces and territories should follow suit and support Canadian vintners and consumer choice," Jessica Fletcher said in an email to CBC News.
So far only British Columbia and Manitoba have uncorked the new rules.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark is pushing the issue with her fellow premiers at their annual meeting this week by presenting each of them with a bottle of her province's local product.
"We said we're taking down our borders. If you want to order Ontario wine or Quebec wine or wine from any other province, fill your boots, you're legal to do it [in B.C.]," Clark said Wednesday. "So far, we haven't persuaded many provinces to follow. But I'm hoping that by giving them all a bottle of wine, they're going to want to join in."
Clark said opening up trade within Canada would create more customers and help grow the domestic wine industry as a whole.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who is hosting the meeting of premiers and territorial leaders in Ontario's wine-producing Niagara region, said the issue is on the agenda.
"You know what, I think that's one of the things that actually we're going to be talking about [Thursday]. I certainly am going to be having a conversation with Premier Clark about that, so it's an ongoing discussion," Wynne said at a news conference Wednesday.
With files from Rosemary Barton