Canada: Beer Freedom Case taken to Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Canada has now to decide, if a state law of New Brunswick is still valid, which barred importing more than one bottle of wine or 12 pints of beer from any other Canadian province. But the final ruling will be much more than just that. Experts see the advent of a freer and more liberalized Canadian economy at the end of the process.

Gerard Comeau, a retiree from New Brunswick was fined C$292.50 in October 2012 for buying 14 cases of beer and three bottles of liquor in the Canadian state of Quebec and taking it home. The province's Appeal Court reviewed in April last year the decision and ruled in favor of Mr. Comeau. Judge Ronald LeBlanc stated that the law, which was implemented at the height of prohibition to prevent smuggling, violated free trade within Canada as guaranteed by the Constitution.

Now the New Brunswick government has called on the Supreme Court to take a final decision. "This is a decision of polarizing national interest," the New Brunswick government says in its memorandum to the Supreme Court.  "The combined effect of these two decisions calls into question several judgments of this court beginning in 1921 as well as 150 years of constitutional compromise."

Howard Anglin, executive director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, a registered charity for the defense of constitutional rights and freedoms of Canadians, says “The Comeau ‘beer freedom’ case could unshackle the Canadian economy from the chains of provincial special interests.” And he goes on “that real free trade among provinces would be a massive economic boon to the country,” and “a favourable ruling would throw open Canada's closed provincial alcohol monopolies and could spell the end of provincial agricultural cartels.”

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