The federal government is finally moving to modernize its alcohol transportation rules, amending a 1928 law that prevents people from buying wine across provincial borders.
The House of Commons has unanimously supported a private members’ bill from Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas that provides for a personal exemption from a law created during the Prohibition era to stop smuggling and tax evasion. The wine industry and B.C. politicians have argued that individuals should be able to buy or order a case of wine they enjoyed while on vacation.
The bill still has to pass the Senate. Once the federal law is changed, provinces would need to establish a personal exemption to allow personal purchase and shipment of alcoholic beverages across provincial borders.
The B.C. government recently announced its own provincial tax exemptions for alcoholic beverages brought into the province for personal use. B.C. residents can now bring back up to one standard case of wine (nine litres), four bottles of spirits (three litres) and a combined total of six dozen beer, cider and coolers (25.6 litres) from each trip to another province, without paying B.C. tax on it.
Those limits are similar to those permitted by Ontario, Nova Scotia and Yukon and are among the highest in Canada, said Rich Coleman, minister responsible for B.C. liquor and gambling policy. He added that the federal change will particularly help B.C. and Ontario, which have well-developed wine industries.
Canada’s archaic wine laws have long been a target of industry and politicians. Premier Christy Clark, former premier Gordon Campbell and B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix have all campaigned for the federal change.
In May 2011, broadcaster Terry David Mulligan took up the cause. He notified police and liquor control officials before carrying a case each of B.C. and Ontario wine in the trunk of his car from Penticton into Alberta, hoping to be charged under the 1928 law.