Free trade in Canada in local wines a step closer
After all the controversy, Bill C-311, permitting free trade in wines across provincial borders, passed third reading unanimously in the House of Commons Wednesday evening.
It will now go to the Senate for approval before Royal Assent.
Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan said there were 287 votes in favour of the private members’ bill put forward by Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas, and none against.
“It’s taken more than two years of working with the provinces, industry and parliamentarians and we got it done. Our grapes will finally be free from federal regulations,” commented Cannan.
Albas said he is hopeful the new legislation will be on the books by the end of June so Okanagan winemakers can capitalize on the current season.
“There is a huge potential for increased wine tourism on account of Canadians now being able to legally take B.C. wine back home, for the first time in history,” he added.
Thursday, B.C. cabinet minister Rich Coleman, who is responsible for liquor and gambling policy, announced that B.C. residents will now be able to bring back up to one case of wine, four bottles of spirits and a combined total of six dozen beer, cider and coolers from other provinces for personal consumption—without paying additional taxes.
He said that would bring B.C. in line with exemptions permitted by Ontario, Nova Scotia and the Yukon, which are among the highest in Canada.
“As another step towards modernizing our liquor laws, this change provides flexibility for British Columbians to legally bring back a case of wine or bottle of their favourite spirits when they visit other Canadian provinces. It updates outdated and arcane rules that most probably don’t know even exist,” commented Coleman.
Currently, Canadians may not legally take bottles of wine back across the border from province to another, as part of legislation that is decades old.
Under the new legislation, tourists from another province who visit local wineries would also be able to purchase wine and have it shipped home by the winery, instead of carrying it out and having to consume it before returning home.
More information about the bill is available on a website called freemygrapes.ca