Retiree at heart of cross border booze run case getting funding help
A man whose drive from New Brunswick to Quebec to buy cheaper beer ended in arrest said Thursday he’s looking forward to airing his constitutional challenge in court next month as a defence crowdfunding campaign gets underway.
In an interview from Tracadie, N.B., Gerard Comeau said he just wants to know whether he has the right to buy his beer in Quebec.
“The Canadian Constitution says you’ve got the right to go buy any Canadian merchandise in any province and bring it from one province to the next,” Comeau said.
“So is it against the law? That’s what we’re trying to find out.”
As part of a sting operation, RCMP arrested Comeau, now 62, in October 2012 when he returned with 12 cases of beer and three bottles of liquor which he bought legally in Pointe-a-laCroix, Que., just across the river from Campbellton. Police seized the booze and charged him with illegally importing alcohol into his home province.
Cross-border alcohol shopping is a regular thing in the area and the retired power lineman had been making the run two or three times a year into Quebec to score beer — which costs about half the New Brunswick price — and lot- tery tickets.
However, provincial law in New Brunswick — related to federal anti-smuggling efforts implemented at the height of Prohibition — forbids importing more than one bottle of wine or 12 pints of beer — about 19 regular bottles — from any other province. The restrictions, stiffer than importing alcohol from the U.S., carry a $292.50 fine for violators.
Beer is on display inside a store in Drummondville, Que., Thursday. Gerard Comeau, whose drives from New Brunswick to Quebec to buy cheaper beer ended in arrest, is going to court on a constitutional challenge next month.