Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas yesterday tabled a private member’s bill that would enable wineries to ship wine to customers for personal consumption and for residents to be able to legally take wine across provincial boundaries.
Business in Vancouver broke the story in April about broadcaster Terry David Mulligan being willing to go to jail to fight the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (IILA) – a 1928 law that Mulligan considers archaic because it makes it illegal for a British Columbian to drive to Alberta with wine in the trunk.
Albas, a rookie MP, tabled the bill instead of colleague and longtime critic of the IILA, Ron Cannan [Kelowna – Lake Country] because of the lottery system used to select backbench MPs to introduce private members’ bills.
“Small family wineries are unable to access the wider Canadian market,” Albas said. “We’re a free trading nation. It seems unreasonable that when someone from Alberta comes to sample B.C. wines that they’re not able to take wine back with them.
“For small family-owned wineries, this is a big concern for them. For the Canadian Vintners Association, this is the No. 1 request in their budget 2012 pre-budget submission.”
Cannan tabled a similar-sounding motion in November to amend the IILA to allow people to “import, send, take or transport Canadian wine into any province or territory.”
Fellow MPs had yet to vote on the motion when the federal election was called earlier this year. Motions simply seek consensus in the house, whereas a private member’s bill would actually change the law.
So, if Albas’ bill passes, it will eliminate the potential for federal prosecution for contravening the IILA.
Albas expects his bill to pass but encourages the public to voice support for the bill with their local MP.