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Canada liquor laws face constitutional challenges

Canada liquor laws face constitutional challenges


Yahoo News


August 27, 2015

Ottawa (AFP) – Fighting to liberalize booze sales, Canadian drinkers and distillers argued in separate legal challenges this week against “unconstitutional” restrictions on the sale and movement of alcohol.


If the court sides with them, the cases could have broad implications for inter-provincial trade, scrapping barriers and leading to cheaper alcohol.


In one case, a retired steel worker is fighting a Can$292.50 (US$221.48) fine for bringing alcohol from Quebec into his home province, neighboring New Brunswick, where provincial law prohibits having more than 12 pints of beer not sold in New Brunswick.


Gerard Comeau had transported 14 cases of beer, two bottles of whisky and a bottle of liqueur across the border in October 2012, according to Federal police.


A constitutional expert told a court Wednesday that the ban on transporting booze into New Brunswick from Quebec, where it is cheaper, was a “travesty.”


“The Fathers of Confederation wanted a comprehensive economic union. They wanted unfettered trade between the provinces,” said Andrew Smith, a professor of political history at the University of Liverpool in England.


He pointed to Section 121 of the Constitution Act that says all goods from a province are to be admitted free into each of the other provinces.


Last week, the owners of a craft distillery that makes unaged whiskey and organic beet spirits sued the Ontario liquor board, which they say charges a “king’s ransom” of 45.9 percent in taxes on each bottle they sell at their Toronto distillery.


Toronto Distillery Company co-founder Charles Benoit told the Toronto Star newspaper that the liquor board set the “unconstitutional” rate without any involvement of legislators


“Taxes must be voted upon by legislators,” Benoit told the paper.


“It’s one of the core precepts of responsible government: (our forefathers) didn’t want the unelected governing council just imposing taxes on a whim.”



IL: Aurora to keep list of ‘habitual drunkards,’ limit booze sales


U.S. News

Associated Press

August 27, 2015

AURORA, Ill. (AP) — The police department in Illinois’ second largest city is going to compile a “habitual drunkard” list to help fight public intoxication.

Aurora Police Department Sgt. Tom McNamara says the list will have “certain clientele” whom police and fire departments see regularly. The (Aurora) Beacon-News reports (http://trib.in/1IhxoVp ) that includes people whom police and fire personnel transport six times or more in a 120-day period.

The City Council approved keeping the list this week as part of an overhaul to city liquor laws. Aurora is roughly 40 miles west of Chicago.

Police say the goal is public safety. Those on the list won’t be able to purchase liquor in Aurora and local businesses are expected to comply.

Authorities say they got the idea from Madison, Wisconsin, which has a similar policy.