Europeans can transport wine, or have it shipped not only between within their own country but between other countries as well while transport of wine in Canada from one province to another has been illegal since prohibition, and provincial liquor boards are fighting tooth and nail to keep it that way.
The Canadian wine Twittersphere has been abuzz with exhilaration, expectation and renewed agony about Bill C-311 (the wine shipping bill that will create a limited national personal use exemption for shipping wine from province to province), which is going through the bureaucratic machine, and the reactions of the provinces such as BC and Ontario.
In case you missed it, this is news or just plain intriguing to you, here’s some of what’s going on….
On June 6th, Bill C-311, the 51-word amendment to the federal law, passed the third reading in the House. Senator then Runciman table the bill in Senate on June 7th. On June 16, the bill passed the Senate by unanimous vote. Smooth sailings? Well, just a first step. Shirley-Ann George points out in guest post at nataliemaclean.com that the provinces still have to open things up . But judging by what BC did within 24 hours of the passing of the bill, that might be easier said than done. Provincial liquor board statements “indicate that they will not respect the spirit of Bill C-311″ and “some liquor boards and provinces have indicated that they will try to limit or prevent Canadians from gaining access to the wines that are sold in other provinces”, reports winelaw.ca. See this Globe and Mail article for more info on the provinces’ stance.
You can stay abreast of all the news and commentary from such notables as wine writer Anthony Gismondi and winemakers including Township 7′s Bradley Cooper and Tinhorn Creek’s Sandra Oldfield on Twitter using the #freemygrapes tag. Also please do read Mark Hicken’s article on this at winelaw.ca. He’s a Canadian lawyer specialized in wine law, and really gets down to the nitty gritty details.
And if are a Canadian wino and want to help, why not write a letter to your MPP / MLA to help free your grapes. You can find a sample letter and how to contact your MPP at http://www.freemygrapes.ca/take-action.shtml
We’re angry and we’re not gonna take it anymore!
That’s the battle cry of more and more Canadian wine drinkers and industry folks in British Columbia, that west coast province touting itself the best place on earth, but with ugly wine laws dating back to prohibition that make it illegal to take wine across provincial borders.
The movement started gradually and was slow to pick up speed, but it’s shaking off the sluggishness and becoming an avalanche of popular opinion. Mark Hicken at WineLaw.ca has spoken out for some time with truths that reveal the insanity of these laws. The Free My Grapes website, run by the Alliance of Canadian Wine Consumers – a grassroots, volunteer alliance of wine lovers whose goal is to change the provincial and federal laws so Canadians can purchase not-for-resale wine directly from Canadian wineries in other provinces and have it shipped to their homes – has also done well in spreading the word about these laws. Notable wine folk like Anthony Gismondi have spoken out on their twitter feeds, and now it’s gotten to the point that Terry David Mulligan hopes to get arrested..
Thankfully, splinters of government are taking note, and doing something. Ron Cannan, the Conservative incumbent MP for Kelowna-Lake Country “tabled a motion to amend the law to allow consumers to purchase wine directly from out-of-province wineries. Motion 601, however, died on the order paper when the election was called. Mr. Cannan has vowed to reintroduce it if he’s re-elected and is optimistic about garnering all-party support.”
And they should be angry. You should be angry! Why? Because neither the federal government nor the B.C. government, which currently runs the gambling and booze in this ocean-hugging province, hasn’t done a thing about it for decades. …and it’s only the tip of the iceberg. From the notoriously astounding 120+ % wine tax markup to restrictions that make it nigh impossible for independent winemakers to begin wineries without major capital (just ask winemaker Bradley Cooper from Black Cloud) and a slew of other laws, restrictions, and regulations that we can sink our teeth into further another day.
I’d urge you to learn more about these issues at sites like Free the Wine! and Free My Grapes. Have your voice heard. Demand reform. With this malcontent avalanche of public voices, we can promote change. And a chink in the armor of government can lead to further changes to make it easier for winemakers to make wine, wine retailers/wholesalers to sell wine, and wine lovers – like you – to enjoy wine.