Advertisement

Economic Development minister welcomes NB court ruling overturning inter-provincial beer ban

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains speaks to reporters following a cabinet meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick.
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains speaks to reporters following a cabinet meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick.

The federal minister responsible for internal trade says a New Brunswick judge’s ruling to end the prohibition on transporting beer across provincial borders is a “positive development.”

Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains called last Friday’s decision a “critical” move toward the end of inter-provincial trade barriers.

“We’re signing international trade agreements and there’s the potential that if we were to ratify CETA, for example, European companies [could] have greater access to local procurement than Canadian companies.”

The minister referred to the decision as a “tremendous opportunity,” highlighting his desire to see continued deregulation in the movement of goods and services between Canadian provinces.

“I’ve been working very closely with my provincial and territorial counterparts on a comprehensive agreement,” said Bains.  “I personally am a big fan of reduction in regulation when it comes to inter-provincial trade.”

Story continues below advertisement

Bains said he would like to see a deal signed between Ottawa and the provinces “sooner rather than later.”

He hopes an agreement can be finalized to celebrate the reduction and elimination of provincial trade barriers in time for Canada’s 150th anniversary next year.

The case in question involves retired line worker Gérard Comeau, who in 2012 was stopped by RCMP while crossing back into his home province of New Brunswick after purchasing 15 cases of beer and three bottles of liquor in Quebec.

READ MORE: New Brunswick court ruling on cross-border beer imports boosts sales in Quebec

Comeau was told he had violated provincial liquor laws and was fined $292.

Rather than pay the fine, Comeau decided to challenge the case in court.

In his 87-page ruling, N.B. Provincial Court Judge Ronald LeBlanc agreed with Comeau’s defense team, saying he believes the ban on transporting alcohol across provincial boarders contravenes the 1867 Constitution Act.

“The Fathers of Confederation wanted to implement free trade as between the provinces of the newly formed Canada,” LeBlanc said in his decision.

A statement from the N.B. Attorney General Serge Rousselle said the government is looking into the decision.

Story continues below advertisement

If the province does decide to appeal, the case could likely end up before the Supreme Court.

With files from The Canadian Press