All lovers of Canadian wines cheered when the federal government’s Bill C-311 passed into law in late June 2012. Now, 5 months later, where are we? What’s happened to date and what has to happen next?
There is good news on some fronts, so-so news on others and unfortunately, still a bunch of laggards who continue to drag their heels.
Three cheers (as we raise our glasses) to BC and Manitoba who have shown leadership and moved decisively to open their borders quickly. A cheer too for Nova Scotia’s Minister of Finance who on November 21, 2012, introduced Bill 143 into the provincial legislature. The Importation of Wine for Personal Use Act looks set to open that province’s internal barriers. Hopefully, when all the details are known, it will match the pace set by BC and Manitoba. Moreover, let’s hope that this move by Nova Scotia will encourage the recalcitrants in other provinces to get their collective butts into gear and take steps to reflect the intent and spirit of the federal legal change.
Saskatchewan had a perfect opportunity to take action with the 70+ change made to their liquor laws on November 20th. While the province will now allow consumers to bring twelve 750mill bottles into the province on their person, they have not seen fit to allow personal importation via common carrier. A small measure of progress but a missed opportunity for Saskatchewan to step up to the bar on behalf of their wine consuming citizens looking to be able to purchase great Canadian wines from across the country. Kudos to the province though for the changes which will allow patrons to bring their own (commercially produced) wine into restaurants – wouldn’t it have been great if that constructive change had been accompanied by boosting the ability of Saskatchewan diners to bring more Canadian wine to those restaurants?
Finally, a “boo hiss” to a comment in the Toronto Star on November 21 by Ian Campbell of Drinks Ontario (an organization which lobbies on behalf of imported wines and spirits and which touts its close cooperation with the LCBO). In a story commenting on Nova Scotia’s intention to open up its borders to interprovincial wine movement, Mr. Campbell said “it’s really comes down to a tax avoidance issue”. A suggestion for him – examine the internal trade practices of the home countries where his members’ products come from (California, Australia, South Africa, France, New Zealand, etc). In many, if not all of those countries, internal movement of wine across domestic political boundaries is much freer than here. He should preach what his members’ home countries practice.
Keep the cards and letters flowing to your provincial politicians – things are off to a good start but we have a long ways to go.