On February 19th the Government of Ontario, now under the new leadership of Premier Kathleen Wynne, came out with its Throne Speech, entitled “The Way Forward”. What a perfect opportunity missed for the new Premier and her government to signal a new way forward on tackling the interprovincial barriers on wine trade.
With Premier Christy Clark of British Columbia having recently appointed a special envoy to lobby other provinces to open up their borders to the direct delivery of Canadian wine to consumers, and with the Province of Nova Scotia having signaled their intent to follow a similar course, what a perfect time for Premier Wynne to have shown leadership. The Throne Speech could have indicated that she would be looking at how Ontario could meet the spirit of Bill C-311, and direct her officials and the LCBO to work with the wine industry to make progress and find a “way forward”.
Unfortunately, the Throne Speech was silent.
The Premier did indicate that the Council of the Federation, all of Canada’s Premiers and leaders of the territories, will be meeting in wine country, Niagara on the Lake, this summer. This will be another opportunity for Ontario to show some leadership and start the process to dismantling the needless barriers that restrict the opportunity for Ontario consumers to enjoy the wine products of other provinces.
It was almost humorous that Premier Clark of BC, a day or two after Kathleen Wynne won the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party and became Premier, indicated that she would be “legally” providing some BC wine to Premier Wynne as a pointed encouragement for Ontario to join the lead of BC, Manitoba and NS in opening its borders to direct delivery to consumers. How Ms Clark was going to do this “legally”, without carrying it on her person in order to meet the LCBO rules, was not clear. If she had tried to ship the wine to the new Premier, she would have been violating Ontario’s rules.
We can only hope that reason will eventually prevail and that the recalcitrance of Ontario and other provinces will change. At every opportunity, it is vital for Ontario consumers and consumers in other provinces who have not moved to meet the spirit of Bill C-311, to tell their Premiers, Ministers and MPPs to “get with the program”. The leadership of BC, Manitoba and Nova Scotia is exciting – the lack of action from other provinces is depressing.