Wine Industry Reaction to Supreme Court Ruling

April 19, 2018 – The Canadian Vintners Association (CVA) and our members today expressed disappointment with the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling on Her Majesty the Queen v. Gerard Comeau. The case challenged restrictions on interprovincial trade, an issue the CVA has been working on for over a decade.

The Supreme Court concluded today that the trial judge erred in overturning binding precedent and that although Section 121 prohibits laws that in their essence and purpose impede the passage of goods across provincial borders, it does not prohibit laws that yield only incidental effects on interprovincial trade.

It’s important to recognize that interprovincial trade barriers affect a range of industries, including wine, and we regret that the Court did not take this opportunity to address those barriers.

To date, unfair interprovincial trade barriers have harmed Canada’s wine industry by making it difficult for Canadians to obtain premium small production wines from an out-of-province Canadian winery. 100% Canadian wine represents less than a 5 per cent wine sales market share in eight of 10 provinces. No other wine producing country has these kinds of restrictions. Canada’s wine industry had seen the ruling as a way to open the doors to direct-to-consumer wine purchases across the country, leading to improved consumer choice and an important growth opportunity for this country’s highest value agricultural industry.

Free interprovincial trade would positively impact the economy across the country. Industry research shows that for every $1.00 spent on Canadian wine in Canada, $3.42 in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is generated across the country. Allowing DTC shipment of wine would enable consumers to purchase wines of their choice, and support wineries and grape growers.

As the national voice for wineries in this important and growing industry, we remain committed to advocate for direct-to-consumer shipment of wine. With our members, we have developed a detailed approach to DTC which was presented to the Federal, Provincial/Territorial Alcohol Beverage Working Group (ABWG), established under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement. This proposal is trade legal and would help to ensure consumer access to Canada’s premium small production wines, and support the growth of the Canadian wine industry.

According to a December 2017 study by the Gandalf Group, 9 out of 10 Canadians believe consumers should be able to order wine for delivery to their home from any Canadian winery located in any province. The Alcohol Beverage Working Group will present recommendations to their respective governments by July 1st, 2018.

The time is now to influence DTC in Canada by using the FreeMyGrapes website to let your federal and provincial/territorial representative know that you are in favour of consumer choice and inter-provincial free trade.