Cross-border beer laws ruled unconstitutional
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, April 29, 2016 5:05AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, April 29, 2016 1:58PM EDT
A New Brunswick man who just wanted to save a few dollars on beer says he feels "good" after a judge dismissed all charges against him, in a court ruling that could have wide-reaching implications for inter-provincial alcohol sales.
Judge Ronald LeBlanc threw out the case against Gerard Comeau of Tracadie, N.B., on Friday, ending a years-long legal battle that started when Comeau was caught at the New Brunswick border with cases of beer bought in Quebec.
"I'm a Canadian citizen, and according to my beliefs, a Canadian citizen should be able to buy product anywhere in this country… and bring it home," Comeau told CTV News Channel after the court ruling on Friday.
Judge LeBlanc ruled New Brunswick's limit on alcohol purchases unconstitutional. Comeau's lawyers from the Canadian Constitution Foundation successfully argued that the Constitution says anything produced in one province could be freely admitted to other provinces.
Comeau was fined $292 and charged with illegally importing alcohol in 2012, after a police sting discovered he was bringing 14 cases of beer and three bottles of liquor into New Brunswick from Quebec. The New Brunswick Liqour Control Act prohibits residents from possessing more than 12 pints of beer purchased from outside the province.
Alcohol prices are lower in Quebec than in New Brunswick, due to a different provincial tax rate. For instance, a case of 24 Budweiser or Molson Canadian beers sells for $42.65 in New Brunswick, and $29.99 in Quebec.
Comeau was one of four individuals charged in the 2012 sting.
The Tracadie, N.B. man says he regularly conducted beer runs to Quebec, two or three times a year.
And, after winning his court case, he says he already knows what he'll do next: "I'm going to go get some beer from Quebec and go celebrate.”