Al­berta to re­view beer tax rul­ing af­ter find­ings leaked

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS -

Al­berta Fi­nance Min­is­ter Joe Ceci says he’s dis­ap­pointed a re­port on the prov­ince’s beer tax pol­icy was leaked and he’ll be tak­ing time to re­view the find­ings.

Ceci said Thurs­day that the gov­ern­ment should have had al­most a month to pri­vately re­view the find­ings of the three-mem­ber Agree­ment on In­ter­nal Trade panel, which looked into whether Al­berta’s poli­cies to boost its beer in­dus­try vi­o­lated rules.

He said the com­plainant, Ar­ti­san Ales Con­sult­ing, showed a lack of re­spect for the process by leak­ing the panel’s re­port when it came out.

“Given the leak by the com­plainant, in this case, we’ve been de­nied that op­por­tu­nity to look at this in a ful­some way and cor­rect any is­sues we found, if there were any, so we’re dis­ap­pointed they de­cided to act uni­lat­er­ally in craft trade that way and demon­strate bad faith,” said Ceci.

Ar­ti­san Ales co-owner Mike Tessier said re­leas­ing the re­port early doesn’t change the find­ings of the panel.

“I don’t care, the an­swer’s the an­swer.”

The panel, in a two-to-one de­ci­sion, found the gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy of pro­vid­ing what amounts to beer tax re­bates to Al­berta small brew­eries dis­crim­i­nates against outof-prov­ince beers sold in Al­berta.

Ceci said he will be tak­ing time to re­view the panel’s find­ings, but still be­lieves the grant pro­gram meets trade agree­ments.

The Al­berta gov­ern­ment also faces a law­suit chal­leng­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of its beer poli­cies, with the court case set to re­sume in Septem­ber.

Ceci made his re­marks at a Cal­gary farm­ers mar­ket, as he an­nounced that craft beers and spir­its will be al­lowed to be sold at ap­proved mar­kets across the prov­ince.

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