Alcohol Taxes Across Provinces

craft-beer-nightAs the summer comes to an end, many are rushing to fit in their last few days of vacation. Many individuals choose to stay within Canada to avoid extra costs, especially with the dollar on the decline. Most individuals bring back alcohol as souvenirs from their trips but this can become a complicated matter when crossing borders. Regular travellers to the U.S are aware that there are alcohol taxes when crossing the border; however, did you know there were also alcohol taxes when crossing borders within Canada?

In 2012, Gerard Comeau had travelled to Quebec from New Brunswick to collect alcohol. The 59 year old man was shocked when he was arrested for transporting illegal importing alcohol into his home province. He had 12 cases of beer and three bottles of liquor on him. In the past, Comeau had made several trips over the course of three years to buy significantly cheaper beer in Quebec and had no problems but this time was different. Comeau was charged in accordance to the federal anti-smuggling laws put in place during the peak of Prohibition which forbids importing more than a single bottle of wine or 12 pints of beer from an outside province into New Brunswick. Many individuals were shocked to learn about this provision.

Numerous individuals are supporting Comeau’s cause via crowdfunding. The matter is to be heard in the Supreme Court of Canada. Furthermore, legal experts believe this outdated law needs to be revisited as it should no longer be applicable. Although section 121 of the Constitution allows for free movement of goods across provincial borders there is a conflict with a Supreme Court decision made in 1921 which interpreted section 121 in a manner that could prove to be an obstacle for Comeau. The law was argued to be interpreted in a narrow manner rather than in the spirit of the law.

What are your thoughts?

Should there be provincial limitations on alcohol importation from other provinces?

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