An article in today’s Globe and Mail, “Wine drinkers are voters too,” by Beppi Crosariol, talked about a crackdown by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and Manitoba Liquor Control Commission on the practice of direct importation of wine from British Columbia. The infraction, it seems, is of a 1928 statute, the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. I-3 (considerably updated over the years). The kick in this act is in section 3 (1):
Notwithstanding any other Act or law, no person shall import, send, take or transport, or cause to be imported, sent, taken or transported, into any province from or out of any place within or outside Canada any intoxicating liquor, except such as has been purchased by or on behalf of, and that is consigned to Her Majesty or the executive government of, the province into which it is being imported, sent, taken or transported, or any board, commission, officer or other governmental agency that, by the law of the province, is vested with the right of selling intoxicating liquor.
None of the exceptions that follow s.3(1) would appear to apply to you and me, as we return from Québec with that bottle of apple ice wine or from Newfoundland with a bottle of Screech or a six of Hibernia Lager, let alone from B.C. with a case of luscious red.
The parochial rigidity of all of this apart, what caught my eye was the fact that a B.C. lawyer by the name of Mark Hicken maintains a website called WineLaw. (This must have been created since Simon Chester’s wonderful post here some two years ago, The Law of Wine, which doesn’t mention Hicken’s site.) He has a number of articles on the site that are aimed at the industry, but some, too, that inform the non winelaw expert, such as Shipping Laws on Wine within/into Canada.
It appears that Mr. Hicken is able to make a go of practicing wine law, one of the more appealing niches in the legal ecosystem.