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Spirits Canada Welcomes Supreme Court Decision to Grant it Intervener Status in R. v Comeau

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Canada. October 14, 2107. Spirits Canada welcomes the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to grant it intervener status in R. v Comeau. While the case specifically concerns an individual who was prosecuted after bringing alcohol across a provincial boundary, it may have much broader implications on interprovincial trade.

“Provinces have been known to regulate the importation, distribution and sale of distribution of beverage alcohol within their borders in a way that discriminates against Canadian beverage alcohol produced in other provinces,” said Jan Westcott, President & CEO of Spirits Canada.

Spirits Canada has long history of promoting the benefits of a truly national domestic beverage alcohol market and believes the nation would be stronger if there were fewer barriers to internal trade.

Examples of measures that Spirits Canada has opposed in the past include those that:

1) provide reductions and/or rebates on liquor board product mark-up or provincial commodity tax rates exclusively to products of liquor manufacturers licensed within a province;

2) restrict the sale of beverage alcohol to sales channels, whether farmers’ markets, grocery stores, or privately-owned liquor stores, solely to beverage alcohol products produced by manufacturers licensed within the province;

3) permit provincially licensed alcohol manufacturers to deliver their products directly to licensed alcohol retailers and/or licensed premises for on-premise consumption, while requiring out-of-province alcohol manufacturers to distribute their products through provincially-mandated distributors; or

4) allow in-province provincially licensed alcohol manufacturers to operate and/or have a financial interest in an establishment licensed for on-premise consumption of liquor (e.g. a “tied-house”), while prohibiting such business relationships for alcohol manufacturers licensed in other Canadian provinces.

“We support and accept alcohol regulation whose purpose is to minimize the negative effects related to the harmful use or misuse of alcohol. Our concern is regulatory measures that favour in-province products over out-of-province products in a way that provides a competitive advantage”, explained Mr. Westcott.

Spirits Canada calls for fair and equal treatment that provides equal competitive opportunities and a level playing field for all Canadian beverage alcohol products across the country irrespective of the province in which they are produced.

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