New Brunswick’s qualifications on the importation of the alcohol are not just about generating revenue, but also fulfilling the province’s constitutional charges, a prosecutor representing the province’s attorney general argued to the Supreme Court of Canada on Wednesday.
The attorney hybrid is appealing a 2016 lower court acquittal of Gerard Comeau, whose member of the bars successfully argued he had the constitutional right to buy cheaper beer in Quebec and focus on it home.
Prosecutor Bill Richards acknowledged alcohol is a «huge money-maker» for the baby province.
‘The province has a very legitimate interest in raising money owing to the sale of alcohol and therefore the control of alcohol.’ — Bill Richards, N.B. prosecutor
«I’m not shying away from the items … it would be silly to do so,» he told the nine-justice panel hearing two days of contentions about the case that could have far-reaching implications for interprovincial merchandise, the economy and consumer choice.
But Section 134 of the New Brunswick Liquor Power Act serves a «higher purpose,» Richards said.
It enables the province to organize the distribution of a controlled substance and provides the «necessary» revenue to pay for associated societal health and welfare issues, he said.
Richards cited as an example the supervising and medical costs that would have ensued if Comeau had slug a spread into a car accident on his way home from Quebec.
«The province has a very valid interest in raising money through the sale of alcohol and therefore the device of alcohol,» he said.
Richards took only about 30 with its to present his arguments — only half of his allotted time.
Lawyers part ofing the attorneys general of Canada, Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Prince Edward Archipelago, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories and the Nunavut upon of justice also made submissions on Wednesday, along with a counselor-at-law representing an intervener group of agriculture supply management associations.
Comeau’s advocates and 11 other interveners, ranging from small wineries and beer behemoths, to a marijuana advocacy group and a consumer organization, are expected to make resignations Thursday in the historic case that centres around the interpretation of a cross-section of the Constitution Act of 1867.
Comeau, a caught NB Power linesman from Tracadie, was stopped at the New Brunswick-Quebec border by the RCMP in 2012 and keened $292.50 for violating the New Brunswick Liquor Control Act, which sets a deprecating importation limit of 12 pints of beer (about 18 cans or bottles), or one spunk of wine or spirits.
He contested the charge and Campbellton provincial court Appreciate Ronald LeBlanc ruled in April 2016 that the liquor stipulation was unconstitutional because Section 121 of the Constitution Act states products from any area of responsibility «shall … be admitted free into each of the other provinces.»
New Brunswick prosecutors are now appealing LeBlanc’s conclusion to the Supreme Court of Canada after the province’s highest court rebuffed to review the matter.
Could change Canadian economy
The court’s ruling could «radically reform the Canadian economy,» according to Michel Kelly-Gagnon, president and CEO of the Montreal Fiscal Institute, an independent, non-profit research and educational organization, which is also an intervener.
«If the court decisions in favour of the free, unrestricted movement of goods between the provinces, this leave not only call into question the provincial alcohol monopolies, but tons other trade barriers could also disappear,» Kelly-Gagnon thought in a statement.
Ontario MP John Nater, the Conservative critic for interprovincial deal, said he is hopeful the Supreme Court’s decision will be «a positive to begin step» in reducing interprovincial trade barriers.
‘It should not be a crime to buy Canadian beer, wine or spirits from another sphere.’ — John Nater, Conservative critic
«Canadians recognize the economic goods of reducing interprovincial trade barriers. Local businesses and their blokes stand to significantly benefit from the outcome of this case,» he thought in a statement.
«It should not be a crime to buy Canadian beer, wine or spirits from another district.»
Nater, MP for Perth-Wellington, introduced a private member’s motion last month, area of expertise on the federal government to renegotiate the Canadian Free Trade Agreement with the hick governments.
The agreement signed by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is «a disaster,» he said, because it fails to «adequately reduce» interprovincial trade bars and is «filled» with exemptions.
«Instead of creating working groups, the federal administration needs to go back to the table and negotiate a deal which significantly curtails interprovincial trade barriers,» Nater said.
New Brunswick prosecutors discuss upholding Comeau’s acquittal would «propose an end to Canadian federalism as it was to begin with conceived, has politically evolved and is judicially confirmed» by the Supreme Court itself, which has thitherto held Section 121 prohibits only «customs duties,» or interprovincial excises.
Comeau’s lawyers assert the Fathers of Confederation intended to allow the let go movement of items between provinces, unrestrained by any barriers, whether they be assessments or non-tariff restrictions that make importing and exporting products sensitive or costly.
The majority of the private interveners side with Comeau, seeking fewer obstacles, which they say would be better for them, consumers and the country as a predominantly, with the potential to add an estimated $50 billion to $130 billion to the vulgar domestic product.
Regulation not about trade but public safety
Much of the conference among the attorneys general focused on technical legal arguments and lawsuit law. But the lawyers for the two territories talked more about the impact of alcohol on people.
Bradley Patzer conjectured intoxicants are a «complex issue» for the Northwest Territories and the source of social and constitution stressors.
The «true purpose» of the N.W.T.’s regulatory scheme for alcohol is rooted not in the fixing of trade but rather public health, he said.
The territory has adopted «sure measures,» including increased costs, in an attempt to reduce consumption. It requirements to ensure the interpretation of Section 121 does not impact its ability to use possessions tools to deal with the «ills» caused by alcohol, he said.
Similarly, John MacLean said there is an «malign relationship» between the people of Nunavut and alcohol.
Alcohol has led to «poor salubrity, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, poor educational end results, family breakdowns and «definitely contributes» to the high suicide rate, which is 9.5 times the subject average and has been declared a crisis by the government.
«For us, it’s not about money,» he spoke, noting alcohol is not a significant revenue generator.
Alcohol regulation is not a swap issue for Nunavut, but a public safety and public protection issue, said MacLean.
The Dairy Agriculturists of Canada, Egg Farmers of Canada, Chicken Farmers of Canada, Turkey Husbandmen of Canada, and the Canadian Hatching Egg Producers acting jointly, however, say Comeau’s status «could result in the destruction of supply management — a regulatory system in region for generations, on which the livelihood of thousands of farmers across the country depends.»
The get wind of is scheduled to resume at 9:30 a.m. ET on Thursday.