Press Release: CCF Tackles New Brunswick’s Prohibition on Interprovincial Alcohol Sales

Press Release: CCF Tackles New Brunswick’s Prohibition on Interprovincial Alcohol Sales

Campbellton, NB – A court date has been set in the New Brunswick Provincial Court for a constitutional challenge to portions of the province’s Liquor Control Act. The section being challenged prohibits New Brunswick residents from importing alcohol from another province or country in excess of a 12-pint limit for beer, or two bottles of liquor.

Gerard Comeau, a retired steel worker, was charged in October 2012 after the RCMP followed him to various stops in Quebec where he purchased fourteen cases of beer, two bottles of whiskey and one of liqueur. After crossing the border into New Brunswick, he was stopped by police. His alcohol was seized, and he was fined $292.50.

Comeau is being represented by lawyers Mikael Bernard of Campbellton, NB and Ian Blue Q.C. of Toronto. The case is being supported by the Canadian Constitution Foundation, a registered charity that engages in public interest litigation to enforce constitutional rights.

The trial will be held from May 12 – 15, 2015 in Campbellton.

Comeau’s lawyers will argue that section 121 of Canada’s constitution, enacted in 1867 as part of the British North America Act, was intended by the Fathers of Confederation to ensure free trade between provinces. Interprovincial trade barriers such as New Brunswick’s ban on importing beer were never constitutionally legitimate.

However, such laws were given approval by the Supreme Court of Canada almost a century ago, during the Prohibition era, in a decision that appears to have been tainted by political influence exercised against two judges.

If Comeau is successful in restoring the correct, original meaning of s. 121 of the constitution, many forms of internal trade barriers may also be invalidated. The implications go beyond the liquor and beer industries. Restrictions on interprovincial trade in eggs, poultry and dairy products—often referred to as supply management—may likewise be considered unconstitutional.
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.