Supreme Court of Canada Upholds Laws Restricting Interprovincial Transportation of Alcohol

OTTAWA, ON – In a unanimous decision issued this morning, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that laws restricting the transportation of alcohol across provincial borders are not unconstitutional, and will be upheld.

The case stems by an incident in 2012 when New Brunswick resident Gerard Comeau was stopped at the N.B.-Quebec border by RCMP officers and fined for having 14 cases of beer and 3 bottles of liquor that he had purchased in Quebec. This amount contravened New Brunswick’s Liquor Control Act which states that residents are limited to bringing a maximum of 12 pints of beer or one bottle of wine or spirits back into the province.

The case was first heard by New Brunswick Provincial Court in 2016, with Judge Ronald LeBlanc ruling that the provincial import limit was unconstitutional, and indicating that the law used to charge Comeau was in violation of Section 121 of the Constitution of Canada which states: “All articles of the growth, produce or manufacture of any of the provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other provinces.”

The New Brunswick government appealed this ruling and took it to the Supreme Court, which sided with the government, stating that “Section 134(b) of the Liquor Control Act does not infringe s. 121  of the Constitution Act, 1867.”

The full ruling is available online now, with a plain language summary to be posted later today.

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