POLITICS

N.B. Government: Cross-Border Beer Battle Could Change Canadian Federalism

The curious case of 14 beer cases is getting interesting.

08/21/2017 14:09 EDT | Updated 08/21/2017 14:29 EDT
The Canadian Press
New Brunswick is asking the Supreme Court of Canada (pictured) to rule that the provincial Liquor Control Act does not violate the Constitution Act.

FREDERICTON — The New Brunswick government says a battle over cross-border beer sales threatens to end Canadian federalism as it was originally conceived.

In its arguments submitted to the Supreme Court of Canada, the province says allowing a New Brunswick man to purchase alcohol in a Quebec border town could ultimately "redesign Canadian federalism."

Gerard Comeau was charged with possessing liquor not purchased from the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation and fined $292.50 after police stopped him on his way home from Quebec with 14 cases of beer and three bottles of liquor in his trunk.

The Canadian Press
Beer is on display inside a store in Drummondville, Que., on July 23, 2015.

He took the case to court and a New Brunswick trial judge ruled that the charge violated constitutional law, overturning a ban on bringing alcohol across provincial boundaries.

The New Brunswick Court of Appeal declined to hear the Crown's appeal but the country's highest court agreed to hear the potentially landmark case on what the fathers of Confederation really meant by a constitutional clause about free trade among provinces.

The province is asking the top court to rule that the provincial Liquor Control Act does not violate the Constitution Act.

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