Monday, 2 May 2016

Massive ruling in NB court upholds constitution

This is a HUGE decision with far reaching implications for trade in Canada. The New Brunswick court has interpreted section 121 of the constitution to mean that there can be no restriction, monetary or otherwise, on the flow of goods between provinces. This marks a return to the original interpretation of the clause and a return to the correct understanding of its intent. This is something that we have been talking about at BentleyBrewers for years, so I must admit it feels somewhat vindicating to finally see others talking about it and coming to the same conclusions; though I cannot say that I ever would have guessed it would be challenged in court victoriously within my lifetime.

That being said, the question now is: what now? For the past 90 years or so legislators have built up laws around an interpretation of section 121 that the NB court has now overruled. These laws go far beyond beer and wine. They also deal with controlled markets such as milk and eggs. They in a way formed a basis for the formation of the various provincial liquor control boards as well.

What is to happen going forward? What will happen with regulations that exist based on the old interpretation of section 121? A good example is the IILA (importation of intoxicating liquors act). This act regulates the movement of alcohol between provinces and effectively empowers provinces to set up liqour control boards; something which has undoubtedly been thrown into question with this court ruling. In light of this, one can make a connection to Ontario's recent relaxing of regulations in regard to beer sales in grocery stores. It doesn't seem much of a stretch to assume that the Wynne government saw this coming and it's potential ramifications and decided to adapt proactively.

One thing is for sure: we are at a crossroads here. A moment in time where the status quo has just been obliterated. The real question is: will people notice?   

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