In case that could have ramifications for inter-province trade, government plans to challenge ruling that favoured man who imported beer, liquor
FREDERICTON—The New Brunswick government will appeal a court ruling in April that effectively threw out limits on cross-border alcohol imports.
Judge Ronald LeBlanc tossed out all charges against Gerard Comeau, who was charged with illegally importing 14 cases of beer and three bottles of liquor from a Quebec border town in 2012.
Beer near the border in Quebec is about half the price charged in New Brunswick, but the Liquor Control Act prohibits anyone in New Brunswick from having more than 12 pints of beer that wasn’t purchased through a liquor store in the province.
The judge cited the words of Canada’s founders, saying they never intended that laws should blatantly block the free flow of goods within the new country.
“I find the speeches and orations from the Fathers of Confederation prior to the enactment of the British North America Act, 1867, conclusively point to their desire to implement free trade as opposed to the elimination of customs duties as between the provinces,” he wrote.
At the time, Comeau’s lawyer described the ruling as “groundbreaking.”
Arnold Schwisberg said the ruling could have the power to shift a host of laws across the country governing everything from selling chickens to how engineers and other professionals work across provincial lines.
But in its notice of appeal, the Crown says the judge erred in his legal interpretation of section 121 of the Constitution Act in five places, including: “By finding that section 121 was drafted as an absolute free trade provision that constitutionally must be so rigorously so interpreted today, which finding is contrary to the principles of constitutional interpretation as established by the Supreme Court of Canada.”
The Crown says the judge also erred in his interpretation of section 134 of the Liquor Control Act.
No date has been set for the court to hear an appeal.