Comeau Decision Disappoints Canadian Business by Continuing to Allow Interprovincial Trade Barriers

April 23, 2018

CANADA – The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is disappointed the Supreme Court has ruled against Mr. Comeau this morning. While some progress was made, this decision will likely do very little to address the many interprovincial trade barriers that exist in Canada.

“The Supreme Court’s decision pushes the needle in the right direction. However, it is a missed opportunity to open up trade. We are concerned that the provinces continue to stand behind an archaic principle that flies in the face of everything their internal trade agreement stands for,” said Corinne Pohlmann, CFIB senior vice president, national affairs.

“Canada is one country. We should be able to move and sell goods and services as easily between provinces as we do with other nations, and businesses should be able to work and prosper in many provinces without being held up by costly, excessive regulations.”

CFIB, along with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, appeared as interveners in the case, which arose after a New Brunswick retiree, Mr. Comeau, was fined for purchasing alcohol in Quebec and transporting it over the border between the two provinces. He challenged the fine and won.

The province appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which recognized laws that prohibit interprovincial trade violate the Constitution but didn’t go far enough to really ease trade flows in Canada.

“It is now up to the provinces to use the channels they developed, such as the Alcoholic Beverages Working Group established as part of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement, to come up with solutions to eliminate the barriers to the free flow of goods within the country,” added Pohlmann.

“We are calling the provinces to get their act together and break down the barriers, and ensure that real free trade is possible across Canada.”



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