The first line in the federal Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act states that no person shall, from within Canada or outside Canada, import, send, take or transport into any province any intoxicating liquor except such as has been purchased by or on behalf of the executive government of the province into which it is being imported.

In other words, no company or individual can legally move any alcoholic beverage from one province to another without first selling it to the receiving province’s liquor authority.

However, in its 2019 budget the federal government introduced legislation to remove that requirement. Once the measure passes, it’s over to the provinces and territories to make changes to their own laws to allow provincial cross-border sales directly to retailers and consumers.

In July of this year at their annual meeting Canada’s Premiers announced their “commitment to reducing barriers to internal trade”. Specifically:

  • Nine provinces already allow and/or are exploring technical options for direct-to-consumer sales
  • All provinces and territories are undertaking work to review and improve their sales channels to reduce administrative burdens and improve access, selection and availability of alcoholic beverages to consumers
  • Six provinces have or will develop e-commerce platforms for the sale of alcoholic beverages, or allow private retailers to do so, with the aim of supporting enhanced consumer access and convenience

The CCBA will keep its members updated as new regulations are rolled out by the provinces.

One of the lobby goals of the CCBA is to influence the normalization of provincial policies related to craft beer sales. It’s a tricky one because it involves reaching a consensus among thirteen Premiers, each with their own desire to satisfy the wishes of their electorate, and each subject to the pressures of provincial/territorial lobbyists, including those with protectionist leanings.

Generally speaking the CCBA supports the unconstrained access to Canadian craft beer. It applauds the federal government’s initiative and calls on the provincial and territorial Premiers to work toward achieving the goals they have set for themselves.

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