Media Advisory: Beer Challenge Opens in NB Court August 25

Media Advisory: Beer Challenge Opens in NB Court August 25

ATTN: Assignment Editors/News Directors

WHAT: Trial of Gerard Comeau, charged with bringing beer and liquor across the Quebec-New Brunswick border. Case will challenge the constitutionality of the New Brunswick law that imposes provincial trade barriers on alcohol.

Gerard Comeau, retired steel worker residing in New Brunswick.

Lawyers for accused:
Arnold Schwisberg of Markham, ON
Mikael Bernard of Balmoral, NB
Karen Selick of Belleville, ON
WHEN: Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 9:30 a.m. until Friday, August 28, 2015.

WHERE: The Courthouse, 157 Water Street, Campbellton, NB.

PHOTO OP: The accused and his lawyers will be available for photos before the start of, and at the close of, each day of trial. Witnesses may be available on the day of their testimony.

WHY: Since 1867, Canada’s constitution has contained a clause intended to permit free trade between the provinces. A misinterpretation of this clause by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1921 has allowed the provinces to set up trade barriers that harm all Canadians. The accused wants to re-establish his constitutional right to free trade across provincial borders.

August 20, 2015 – New Brunswick Man Seeks to Strike Down Protectionist Alcohol Laws
CAMPBELLTON, NB—The trial of Gerard Comeau, a retired steelworker residing in Tracadie-Sheila, New Brunswick, will commence on Tuesday, August 25, 2015 and is expected to continue until Friday, August 28.

Comeau was stopped by the RCMP in 2012 while transporting 14 cases of beer, two bottles of whiskey and one bottle of liqueur across the border from Quebec into New Brunswick. The police seized his alcohol and fined him $292.50. The Liquor Control Act of New Brunswick forbids the importation of alcohol from outside the province except in very small amounts.

Seventeen unrelated individuals were charged in the RCMP enforcement operation, triggering widespread annoyance among local residents, many of whom were also in the habit of crossing the border to buy their beer.

Alcohol is cheaper in Quebec than in New Brunswick due to lower taxes.

With the assistance of lawyer Mikael Bernard, Comeau decided to challenge the constitutionality of the law. The case has been supported by the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF), a registered charity dedicated to assisting individuals to claim their constitutional rights. The CCF has arranged for lawyer Arnold Schwisberg of Ontario to join the defence team.

The defence will argue that Canada’s constitution has contained a provision mandating free trade across provincial borders ever since the country was founded in 1867.

Said CCF litigation director Karen Selick: “One of the important reasons for uniting four separate British provinces into a single country was to gain the benefit of free trade across the entire territory. It’s time for the courts to make protectionist provinces such as New Brunswick respect the constitution.”

The Canadian Constitution Foundation (“Freedom’s Defence Team”) is a registered charity, independent and non-partisan, whose mission is to defend the constitutional freedoms of Canadians through education, communication and litigation.