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It is much easier for Canadian wine lovers to buy international labels than it is for them to buy world-class wine produced in their own country. Even worse for wine producers, few Canadians outside of southern B.C. and Ontario are aware that they can experience wine tourism without having to travel outside their borders. Motion 601 may finally allow world-class Canadian wine to flow from coast to coast and open the doors to increased revenue for wineries.
Motion 601 is an effort to weaken the barriers to interprovincial sales of Canadian wine imposed in 1928. The Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act put in place all those years ago essentially prohibits importing alcohol between provinces and territories unless it is consigned by the provincial regulatory board of the receiving province.
Motion 601 would amend the Act to allow an exemption for Canadian wine purchased directly from a winery or other licensee for personal consumption (not for resale). In my view, this approach makes a lot of sense. It allows the Canadian wine industry to thrive while maintaining controls over the sale and distribution of alcohol that many argue are in the public interest. By moving forward in this measured way, Motion 601 has a reasonable chance of being adopted.
I expect there will be opposition from provincial governments that view the proposed change as a reduction in their regulatory power over alcohol distribution and sales. Cynics will argue that the provincial governments really fear a loss of revenue if wine consumers are given the option of bypassing government stores in favour of purchasing direct from the winery over the Internet or at the winery itself.
Regardless, there are many benefits to such an amendment, for industry, consumers, and provincial and federal economies.
My fear is that Motion 601 will be viewed as a regional or industry-specific issue and will not receive the profile it deserves in order to be successful. My hope is that the amendment is approved and opens the doors to increased viability and growth for our wine producers.
Geoff McIntyre, CA, specializes in advising wineries and fruit growers. For more information, contact him at 250-763-8919 or [email protected]
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