Interprovincial Trade Barriers Remain

Supreme Court Rules Against Free Trade

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled unanimously in R vs Comeau that “Section 121 does not impose absolute free trade across Canada.” Therefore, provinces and territories have the constitutional right to restrict the importation of goods from each other, as long as the primary aim of the restriction is not to impede trade. That means that liquor can still not be sold across provincial borders.

Comeau’s defence was focused on section 121 of the Constitution Act, which states products from any province “shall … be admitted free into each of the other provinces.” The court found that the primary purpose of New Brunswick’s law was “to prohibit holding excessive quantities of liquor from supplies not managed by the province.” The court did not want to take away a province’s power to control what comes across its borders.

The BC Wine Institute will still be lobbying to allow wineries to be free of trade barriers and to ship across Canada.

Photo courtesy of BC Wine Institute

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