Liquor li­cence

The Labradorian - - Editorial -

Drive across the bor­der from New Brunswick to Nova Sco­tia and, ex­cept for a sign or two and the vis­i­tor’s cen­tre on the Nova Sco­tia side, you might miss it en­tirely. And if you look at the signs, the most im­por­tant is­sue seems to be a warn­ing against the im­por­ta­tion of bees.

Be­tween New Brunswick and Prince Ed­ward Is­land, there’s the Con­fed­er­a­tion Bridge; be­tween Nova Sco­tia and the is­land, the Wood Is­land ferry. For both, there’s a sub­stan­tial fee.

Nei­ther en­try into P.E.I. boasts bor­der pa­trol of­fi­cers wait­ing to stop and search your car for con­tra­band.

For New­found­land and Labrador, it’s either a ferry ride from Cape Bre­ton or a long, rack­ety road trip from Que­bec. Once again, no bor­der pa­trol.

That’s why it’s such gen­tle com­edy that the na­tion’s premiers spent so much time last week strug­gling over whether to keep or change provin­cial laws on the im­por­ta­tion of al­co­holic bev­er­ages.

The re­sult? The pre­mier de­cided to “sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease” the amount of al­co­hol that in­di­vid­u­als can bring across provin­cial bor­ders, but didn’t say what the sig­nif­i­cant in­crease would be.

New Brunswick Pre­mier Brian Gal­lant got to an­nounce the lat­est inch for­ward at the close of the lat­est meet­ing: “Make no mis­take about it, there is an ac­knowl­edg­ment that we have to look at this is­sue … There’s an ac­knowl­edg­ment that there should be pushes to have sig­nif­i­cant in­creases to im­port lim­its.”

In other words, yet an­other agree­ment to try and agree: “We have all com­mit­ted to take ac­tion over the next weeks and months,” Gal­lant said. “That’s where we landed on the con­sen­sus.”

The num­ber of peo­ple caught break­ing the ex­ist­ing rules? Ex­cept for the high-pro­file case of Ger­ard Comeau, who fought New Brunswick’s bor­der rules all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada (and lost) over 14 cases of beer, two bot­tles of whisky and a bot­tle of liqueur, you’d prob­a­bly be hard pressed to iden­tify even a sin­gle ar­rest of a per­sonal-use booze smug­gler.

Im­por­tant to keep in mind? Laws about the re­sale of al­co­hol within Cana­dian prov­inces and ter­ri­to­ries would still be in force, so the re­moval of lim­its would not be a free-for-all of trans­port trucks filled with liquor cross­ing provin­cial lines.

But the slow march to end cross-bor­der rules goes on.

The Globe and Mail points out that, in the last year, “a fed­eral-provin­cial work­ing group on al­co­holic bev­er­ages has met 27 times to dis­cuss how to har­mo­nize provin­cial poli­cies.

An­other group called the Reg­u­la­tory Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and Co­op­er­a­tion Ta­ble has held 17 meet­ings.”

The fact that it takes so darned long to achieve so very lit­tle points out how top-heavy and bogged down we are.

Who knows?

When the premiers fi­nally clew up the in­ter­provin­cial liquor sales is­sue, maybe they can be­gin im­por­tant philo­soph­i­cal ne­go­ti­a­tions over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

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