New Brunswick reluctant to lift interprovincial booze limits
Seven provinces have joined Nova Scotia in eliminating trade barriers between provinces, recently lifting limits on how much alcohol residents can buy for personal consumption.
“I’m a free trader. The more we can reduce barriers the better off it is. But they’ll make that decision, I think all provinces should be in,” said Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil.
But New Brunswick isn’t showing any interest in joining its neighbours.
“I understand on the surface our tax structure seems out of whack,” said New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs.
Interprovincial trade and beer has been in the spotlight since 2012, when Gerard Comeau was being stopped and charged by police in Campbellton N.B. for having 14 cases of beer that was purchased in Quebec.
He took his case to the Supreme Court of Canada, claiming the limited his Constitutional rights, but he lost in April of this year.
WATCH: Free the Beer decision at Supreme Court of Canada
Higgs says New Brunswick’s proximity to Quebec and neighbouring Maine put the province in a tough position. Figures show lifting those restrictions could cost the province about $32 million.
“We are in a different position in terms of our market and market access for our people to go elsewhere so we have to be cognizant of that because it’s a big hit for us,” said Higgs.
It’s a controversial issue across political lines, with varying opinions on the matter.
“When you put up trade barriers to stop that, to me it infringes on my ability as a Canadian citizen to buy what I want when I want,” said People’s Alliance Leader Kris Austin.
While the province isn’t moving on the file just yet, Higgs says he is exploring other options, such as discounting alcohol near provincial and international borders.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.