One year later, Canadian grapes still aren’t free.
This Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the unanimous passage of Bill C-311, a private members’ bill, courtesy of MP Dan Albas, that was meant to “free my grapes”.
It might interest Canadian wine lovers to know that, for the vast majority of the country, it is still illegal to ship wine — Canadian wine — to another province. As lawyer Mark Hicken remarked in a recent media interview, imagine if wineries from Bordeaux couldn’t ship wine to Paris. There would be a riot. But this is the situation we’re in, one year after the passage of the Bill commonly referred to as the “free my grapes” Bill.
What’s the hold up? Each province is interpreting Bill C-311 in its own manner. Kudos to BC, the first province to open up provincial borders. You can bring a case back to BC, as long as its Canadian wine. Manitoba has stepped up, and changes are in the works for a couple of Maritime provinces.
But, this is all open to interpretation. Each province is making its own rules. Frankly, several seem to be stuck in the Prohibition era, and have turned a blind eye to Bill C-311. This, despite a Harris-Decima poll that shows more than 80 percent of Canadians want provincial borders open to our own wine.
Imagine, if you will, if it was illegal for Nova Scotia lobster to leave its home province. Or if Saskatchewan wheat was held up at the Alberta border.
It’s up to the wine drinkers to take action. During this anniversary week, take moment to contact your political representatives and tell them it’s time to uphold the spirit of Bill C-311.