As reported by Glenn Kauth, Ontario's LCBO has changed the rules: Ontarians will now be permitted to bring up to three litres of spirits, nine litres of wine, and 24.6 litres of beer into the province, as long as it is for "personal consumption"--whatever that might mean.
This change was not brought about by a legislative amendment to the Federal Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act, instead, it was the result of an internal LCBO policy resolution. If you read and think carefully about section 3(1) of the Federal IILA, you may find it puzzling how the Provincial LCBO could do this.
Section 3(1) of the IILA reads:
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.Regardless, this LCBO policy resolution appears to make Ontarians more free. But this is patently incorrect: it does nothing for the freedom of Ontarians.
The fundamental problem is that section 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867 prohibits both Federal and Provincial governments from placing restrictions on the importation of liquor across provincial boundaries. It's an inter-provincial free-trade clause. Section 121 reads:
121. All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces.No matter how high the LCBO decides to raise the limit on importing liquor for "personal consumption", the fact that it considers itself to have legitimate constitutional authority to set such limits is problematic. If the LCBO allowed Ontarians to bring 20, 50, or even 100 bottles of liquor into the province for personal consumption, the fact remains that Ontarians must play by the LCBO's rules. And if you have to play by someone else's rules, you aren't free.
Further, where did this notion of "personal consumption" come from? It's not from the IILA or the constitution. It seems a diversionary tactic since the notion of "personal consumption" is wholly irrelevant to the guarantee contained in section 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867.
Not to be overly pessimistic about all of this, but the LCBO's policy resolution is pure pandering intended to mollify Ontarians against a bitter truth: they are not free to do what the constitution guarantees they can. But there is also something to be optimistic about here. This policy resolution might indicate that the LCBO fears what Ontarians (and fellow Canadians) would demand if aroused to these facts.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
The Justice Report: The LCBO Throws Ontarians a Bone: