It’s clear to some in the Saskatchewan alcohol business that inter-provincial liquor laws need updating.
This comes after a ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada Thursday that upheld a law which makes it illegal to buy large quantities of booze from other provinces to bring back home. The case came to light after a man in New Brunswick was fined $240 for buying large amounts of beer and liquor in Quebec and taking it back.
“We’ve got about a hundred years of convoluted laws that were the result of prohibition and we just end up with a gigantic mess,” said Mark Heise of Rebellion Brewing in Regina.
Heise said while the law doesn’t majorly impact him, he said these prohibitive rules are accepted as the norm.
“Government should really just stay out of the way as much as possible. They obviously have a role to play,” he said.
“Otherwise we believe in the free market.”
Last Mountain Distillery owner Colin Schmidt also believes the government should take another look at its legislation.
“The laws are outdated, they’re a little bit archaic and you’d think that buying something in Canada, anywhere in Canada, once tax has been paid it should be able to go anywhere in Canada but that’s not the case,” he said.
Schmidt said he understands why governments don’t want people to buy large quantities to distribute because that government would miss out on tax revenue but he said when it’s purchased for personal consumption he disagrees.
That’s especially true for his business, he said, which carries what he called unique products like Dill Pickle Vodka.
He said the law limits where the distillery can ship product. Schmidt said they are allowed to ship to British Columbia, but not to other provinces like Manitoba, Ontario or Quebec.
“We get emails all the time from people in other provinces where they want to buy a few cases of product and I would say we get a handful of those emails every month. We are losing out on thousands of dollars.”
Justices in the New Brunswick matter ruled to protect provinces’ rights to restrict alcohol from other jurisdictions, saying that provinces have the right to restrict commerce as long as they’re doing it for a higher purpose: in this case, controlling the alcohol supply.