Open the Borders

By / Food / June 28th, 2013 / 1

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the passage of Bill C-311. This momentous bill, sponsored by Dan Albas, Member of Parliament (Okanagan-Coquihalla), effectively amended the prohibition-era Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act, removing the federal restrictions prohibiting individuals from transporting wine from across provincial borders when purchased for personal use.

One year later, only two provinces – British Columbia and Manitoba – have permitted for the direct shipment of wine from a licensed Canadian winery to residents, while the remaining provinces and territories continue to object to the national legislation. Thus, despite Bill C-311’s unanimous federal support, the majority of Canadian wine consumers are still prohibited from purchasing directly from out-of-province wineries.

“The Canadian wine industry applauds the federal government for removing an 84 year old law which had restricted the opportunities for Canada’s growing wine industry to satisfy consumer demand for direct sales and delivery,” said Dan Paszkowski, President and CEO of the Canadian Vintners Association (CVA).

“There are now over 500 wineries in Canada, and with each vintage, more wines are produced than can be stocked or sold by liquor stores; however, that shouldn’t prevent an adult from purchasing Canadian wine directly from an out-of-province winery,” stated Paszkowski. “Consumers expect to be able to purchase the wines they want, in the manner of their choosing: from liquor stores, at the winery, through winery wine clubs, or online. Direct-to-consumer delivery would satisfy consumer demand, help local wineries grow their business, and augment liquor store sales. It is also good for rural communities and the entire Canadian economy.”

A recent study calculated the annual economic impact of the Canadian wine industry to be $6.8 billion, supporting over 31,000 jobs in Canada, and contributing over $1.2 billion in annual government tax revenue. Statistics also show that Canadian consumers are increasingly selecting wine as their beverage alcohol of choice, yet Canadian wines only account for 30% of total wine sales in Canada.

“Canadians want to appreciate the excellence found in their own backyards and prohibiting consumer exposure to local wines is detrimental to our industry, and in particular, small family wineries,” said Tony Stewart, President of Quails’ Gate Winery in British Columbia and CVA Chair.

The CVA will continue to respond to widespread support for expanding consumer choice in Canadian wine, by working with legislators where provincial/territorial law prohibits consumers from purchasing wine directly from wineries across Canada.

What can you do? Call your local MP and tell him or her that movement must be made on this initiative. Canada has a large and vibrant wine industry. Opening the borders will foster a growing Canadian wine culture.

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