Supreme Court upholds law in cross-border beer case

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled unanimously that provinces have the constitutional right to restrict the importation of goods from each other, as long as the primary aim of the restriction is not to impede trade.

The ruling goes against what the man at the centre of the so-called free-the-beer case had argued and hoped for.

Thursday’s ruling will also dash the hopes of many Canadians who were hoping to have easier access to cheaper and sought-after products in another province, particularly alcohol and tobacco.

Canadian wineries will also be disappointed. They had been looking for support for their lobby to allow direct-to-consumer wine sales across the country.

Gerard Comeau, the retired New Brunswick man who initiated the case, drives two or three times a year from his home in Tracadie — about 160 kilometres north of Moncton — to Quebec, where it’s cheaper to buy beer and liquor.

In 2012, Comeau was stopped at the New Brunswick-Quebec border by the RCMP and fined $292.50 for having 14 cases of beer, two bottles of whisky and one bottle of liqueur in his vehicle. His alcohol was confiscated.

Most provinces limit how much alcohol people can bring across provincial borders.

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