Canada’s Bottleshock

While Canada has not exactly had its bottleshock moment, over the last few decades various regions of Canada, including British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Ontario have become notable for their wine producing regions. These producers have developed to such an extent that demand for their products has grown to a point where requests for their wines come from all quarters (undeniably is a good thing) except for when the wine producers have to decline certain requests, which happens on a regular basis because of the Importation of Intoxicating Liqours Act, RSC 1985 c I-3. Specifically section 3(1) of the act which reads:

…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….

In short, the wine producers are not allowed to ship their product over provincial borders as only liquor agencies are allowed to ship alcohol between provinces. While, on the whole, prohibition, specifically prohibition in the United States, has been very good for Canada’s economy and a source of legend of lore (the shipbuilding contract of the 20’s and 30’s, so-to-speak) this legislative holdover from Canada’s own foray into prohibition is a significant drag on legitimate business in Canada.

On October 3, 2011, a private member’s bill was introduced in Parliament. Bill C-311 – An Act to amend the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (interprovincial importation of wine for personal use) seeks to amend RSC 1985, c I-3, by striking out the word “and” in one paragraph, adding the word “and” to another and inserting the following paragraph into the act

(h) the importation of wine from a province by an individual, if the individual brings the wine or causes it to be brought into another province, in quantities and as permitted by the laws of the latter province, for his or her personal consumption, and not for resale or other commercial use.

The effect of these seemingly minor changes, would be that Canadian Wineries will be able to ship their product across provincial boundaries and that; perhaps, in the not-too-distant future, a movie can be made about Canada’s wines becoming a worldwide force. While private member’s bills (a topic on its own) often face an uphill climb to being passed, let’s hope that this one has smooth sailing so that in the future the sailing vessel does not need a false bottom.

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