Canada’s Direct Wine Shipping Prohibition About to End
It appears that Canadians are set to solve their wine shipping dilemma in one fell swoop: legislation is likely to pass that will finally allow Canadian wine lovers to have wines shipped to them across provinces, a simple thing that has been banned since 1928.
Canada went through its own Prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s. It lasted for a shorter time than here in America and most laws were repealed by the end of the decade. But one legacy of Prohibition was the federal ban on the cross-province movement of alcohol.
As a result, the somewhat recently developed wine regions, particularly in British Columbia found themselves in the odd position of being able to see wine to visitors, but the visitors were unable to bring the wine home with them if they lived in a different provincee. And wine could not be shipped across provinces.
That will change when, in June, it appears likely that Member of Parliament's Dan Albas' Bill C-311 passes through the Canadian House and Senate. By all accounts the bill is widely supported, except by members of the British Columbia Liquor Distribution Board, which fears cross-province movement of wine will cut into their revenues.
It remains a fundamental question of personal and commercial liberty vs. State Control when considering whether wine lovers ought to be able to move their property across provincial or (in America, "State") lines. The questions is which interest ought to be given priority.
What the Canadian Liquor Control boards will quickly learn is that the amount of revenue that will be lost will pale in comparison to the revenue they continue to derive from the retail sale of wines, which they control via state stores. This has been the experience in the United States where direct to consumer shipment of wine has recently be allowed and there is no reason to believe it will not be the same experience in Canada.
The reform in the wine shipping laws will be a boon to wineries, particularly to those in the Okanagan where a vital and important wine industry has developed. The result will certainly be an increase in sales, which in turn will lead to an increase in jobs and the expansion of that regions wine industry as well as tourism industry.
There has always been under-the-table chatter here in the U.S. about the prospects of a national wine direct shipping law, but passing such a law has never been attempted. On the other hand, there have been moves to pass Congressional legislation making it more difficult for wine lovers to have wine shipped to them from out of state, a move pushed exclusively by wine, beer and spirit wholesalers and distributors who have worked tirelessly in state and federal venues to thwart the simple and legitimate desires of wine consumers to buy the wines they want instead of the wines wholesalers want to sell them.
In 2013 the Wine Bloggers Conference will be held in Penticton in the Okanagan wine region. By then, it appears, all Canadians will have the right to have wine shipped to them from this beautiful wine country. It will be a good reminder to wine bloggers that the battle here in the states is far from over.