Criminalizing Wine “Traffickers”

By Robert Stephen

(WINDSOR, ON) – Pardon my ignorance but shouldn’t it be the position of a federal government and any provincial government to promote and see domestic industries grow and prosper?  Should the Canadian and provincial governments encourage the growth of provincial wine producers through the removal of barriers to inter-provincial shipments of wine direct from wineries to consumers? Or should they be allowed to exercise monopolistic powers and require that wine be first shipped to the provincial liquor monopoly before it is then distributed to consumers? Is this greed and lust for profits or is there a valid reason to “protect the public”? I suspect given the apparent widespread shipping of wine from wineries to out of province consumers the Federal government and the various provincial liquor monopolies are years behind reality and an annoying thorn in the side of Canadian wine drinkers hungry to sample wines from wineries throughout Canada that are outside their home province. It is a rare winery website that advises only in-province wine shipments are permitted. Law and order breaking down when it comes to wine? Is this a vestige of the temperance attitude or is it all a monopolistic plot and a grab at profits because if you are forced to distribute through a provincial liquor monopoly guess who gets a cut?

So let’s take a closer look at the federal view of inter-provincial shipments of wine. The federal Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act governs the interprovincial “traffic” (sounds like dangerous drugs!) in “intoxicating liquors” (love that 1930’s attitude!).

Here is the nitty gritty right from the Act itself;

Prohibitions

3. (1) Notwithstanding any other Act or law, no person shall import, send, take or transport, or cause to be imported, sent, taken or transported, into any province from or out of any place within or outside Canada any intoxicating liquor, except such as has been purchased by or on behalf of, and that is consigned to Her Majesty or the executive government of, the province into which it is being imported, sent, taken or transported, or any board, commission, officer or other governmental agency that, by the law of the province, is vested with the right of selling intoxicating liquor.

Amusing that wine is beginning to sound a bit like heroin! To be defined under the Act as“intoxicating liquor” it has to be produced with a permit issued by an appropriate governmental agency! Let’s not get too technical here but I take Section 3(1) to mean buy from the LCBO in an LCBO store or through the LCBO private ordering service or through an agent that must itself buy through the LCBO or else you’ll be sent on the next transport ship to Australia. Not so bad unless it is a second offence in which case you can do jail time from 3-6 months! The LCBO has confirmed to me that according to the Act, Ontario residents may not order wine directly from out of province wineries nor may residents of other provinces order Ontario wine directly from Ontario wineries. Will there be special detachments of the OPP/RCMP waiting to greet us from flights from British Columbia? Wine sniffing dogs? Will there be border checks at the Ontario- Quebec border searching for iced apple cider in car trunks? Special teams on VIA rail trains to avoid the wine corruption that is destroying Canada? Will private wine cellars and basements be subject to search and seizure? Is Canada no longer safe? Can you sleep at night? If you have now realized you are a wine criminal you either confess your crime or hand over your contraband or fight the status quo through freemy grapes.ca and/or you can vote for the federal candidate that will grant you amnesty for your wine crimes. Or you can conceal your horrific crimes and start ordering from the LCBO through the LCBO private order service in which you can obtain wines within three weeks from when your order was placed and pick them up at the LCBO store nearest to you. Not so bad eh? The LCBO informs me it has been increasing the availability of wines from other provinces having more doubled the number of B.C. wines it has listed in the past two years. The LCBO has also encouraged wine trade associations and advised them of its interest in carrying more of their wines and has encouraged producers in other provinces to submit products to it while at the same time saying, “It is not uncommon for boards to remind suppliers of the regulatory requirements.”

So based on the buyers of wine I have heard about there a thousands of criminal wine drinkers who may travel to British Columbia, Quebec and Nova Scotia who buy locally produced wine and cider and  break the law by bringing back a few bottles in  their suitcases or who just order direct from the winery. However you can return from a trip to Spain with a couple of bottles of Spanish wine and if you declare them you are no longer a criminal. Are we missing something here? You can import foreign wine but can’t bring back any Canadian wine from outside of Ontario?  The last time I flew to Montreal from Toronto I noticed several cases of B.C. wine on the baggage dohicky on a flight from Kelowna. Had I known what I know now I would have arrested the evil wine criminals collecting their cases and delivered them to face the justice they deserved and perhaps won an Order of Canada medal? Considering the upcoming election I propose we vote for candidates that are going to grant an amnesty for thousands of Canadian wine criminals.

Interested in pursuing this with your local candidate? In this case please look at this press release and check out “freemygrapes.ca”;

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."Email Robert Stephen
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