N.B. man who lost his 'free the beer' fight not surprised by top court's decision
Published Thursday, April 19, 2018 12:01PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 19, 2018 7:27PM EDT
The man who challenged restrictions on transporting alcohol across provincial borders and took his legal fight all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada says he’s “not really” surprised by the top court’s decision to uphold the current law.
Gerard Comeau, a New Brunswick man who was fined $240 plus administrative fees in 2012 for driving across the border to Quebec to buy several cases of beer and some liquor, said he will now have to live with the unpopular cross-border booze rules.
“You can’t go any higher than the Supreme Court,” he told CTV News Channel on Thursday, adding that he won’t be trying to lobby for changes to the law in any other way.
In a unanimous decision Thursday, the Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of the New Brunswick law that prohibits people from bringing in alcohol from other provinces.
The court’s decision effectively preserves the current trade rules within Canada, saying provinces have the power to enact laws that restrict commerce if there is another overriding purpose. In Comeau’s case, that purpose was the desire to control the supply of alcohol within New Brunswick, the court said.
Comeau said Thursday that even though he wasn’t surprised or necessarily disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision, he does not agree with it.
“According to the Constitution, you should be allowed to go shop wherever you want, in unlimited quantity and take it home,” he said.
Comeau said many supporters of his “free the beer” fight have told him he should win the case because it’s “common sense,” but he believes the decision goes against the Constitution.
Ian Blue, one of the lawyers who represented Comeau, said Thursday his team is “very disappointed” by the Supreme Court ruling.
“The court obviously made a political judgment to maintain the status quo in Canada,” Blue told CTV News Channel.
Despite the legal defeat, Comeau said he never ended up having to pay the fine for breaking the rules in 2012. But he won’t be doing any more cross-border booze shopping.
“If it’s illegal, it’s illegal,” he said.
With files from The Canadian Press