Sask. wine could flow freely across provincial borders
Saskatchewan wine may soon flow freely across the country after MPs voted unanimously Wednesday to pass a private member’s bill that will end the restriction to transport wine across provincial borders.
Bill C-311, introduced by British Columbia Conservative MP Dan Albas, amends the circa-1928 Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act to remove a regulation which prohibits interprovincial wine shipments. The bill now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.
The news has many small wineries toasting to the change, including co-owner of Living Sky Winery Susan Echlin.
“For small producers, it gives us the opportunity to reach customers who enjoy our product but may not live in our home province,” said Echlin who called from her winery in the Village of Perdue, approximately 60 kilometres west of Saskatoon.
“We’re never going to set the world on fire in terms of volume but it will allow people who appreciate us to order our wine."
Echlin said although she anticipates her winery will only sell an additional 50 cases a year under the new bill, the ability to expand beyond Saskatchewan’s borders means finally being able to satiate her winery’s cult following.
“We get a lot of phone calls, particularly from Alberta and a lot of people from the Maritimes who have tried our product and loved it so it’s a little tough to tell them they can’t actually have it,” she said.
Under the current federal legislation, it is illegal to transport wines across provincial lines. The offence comes with a $200 fine or jail time.
According to the Alliance of Canadian Wine Consumers (ACWC), the 84-year-old legislation encourages Canadian to purchase foreign wine by hindering domestic wine shipment.
“This is an archaic law … that needs to change. Canadian should be able to buy, order and ship Canadian wines across provincial borders for personal use without getting a fine or jail time and a criminal record,” explains the ACWC website.
If Bill C-311 is signed by the Governor General, it is expected the new bill will come into effect by the summer.
Provincial governments will still control the amount of wine that can be shipped.
The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority was not available to comment at the time of publication.