Restaurants Canada is disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold interprovincial trade barriers.
“While we respect the Court’s ruling, we believe it represents a missed opportunity for Canadians who resoundingly prefer a diverse array of options when dining out,” said Lauren van den Berg, Restaurants Canada’s National Vice President, Government Affairs. “It is unfortunate that these provincial restrictions on interprovincial trade have been upheld at the expense of the customer.”
The case involved Gerard Comeau, a private citizen who stood up to the New Brunswick government after officials stopped him at the border and seized the beer he’d bought legally in Quebec. The New Brunswick Court of Appeal subsequently ruled that laws restricting the transport and sale of alcohol across provincial lines were unconstitutional, but the top court in the land disagreed. Comeau’s defence centred on section 121 of the Constitution Act, which states products from any province ‘shall … be admitted free into each of the other provinces.’
But unfortunately the Supreme Court disagreed, ruling that section 121 does not impose absolute free trade across Canada. “At a time when our country is focusing on major international trade deals, we should also be promoting interprovincial trade at home, which would benefit of all Canadians,” continued van den Berg.
Archaic interprovincial trade barriers such as these affect a range of industries, and Restaurants Canada will continue to work closely with government stakeholders and industry leaders to ensure greater freedom in the market, better prices for consumers, and a more equitable system for foodservice operators.
Restaurants Canada is a growing community of 30,000 foodservice businesses, including restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions and suppliers. We connect our members from coast to coast, through services, research and advocacy for a strong and vibrant restaurant industry. Canada’s restaurant industry directly employs 1.2 million Canadians and serves 18 million customers every day.