BY WENDY ELLIOTT
Kings County Advertiser/Register
Nova Scotia winemakers have their fingers crossed that a private member's bill introduced in Parliament Monday will allow them to ship their wine soon to customers outside the province.
Hanspeter Stutz, the owner of Domain de Grand Pre in Grand Pre, said as a Swiss-born entrepreneur he has been frustrated by interprovincial trade barriers when Canada has a Free Trade agreement with the United States.
He said Canada's strong currency adds 20 to 25 per cent to the cost of selling a bottle of wine south of the border, but shipping between provinces is "much more complicated.
"I think it would be most ideal if Ottawa takes over all the rules and regulations in the country."
Currently, if a consumer from outside the province comes to Stutz's winery and asks him to ship a case of wine to another province for personal use, he has to decline.
According to Stutz, few tourists realize they aren't allowed to ship wine out of province, but added that those who'd want to "are not a huge volume. It would be nice for Maritimers out west," he said.
Provincial liquor corporations and boards are the only ones who can legally move alcohol between provinces due to a federal anti-bootlegging law, which dates back to 1928. Under Canada's Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act, carrying a bottle of wine across a provincial border is not permitted.
Conservative MP Dan Albas, who represents British Columbia's wine country, introduced the new bill. Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison said Monday that he has been on the record for some time supporting the Alliance of Canadian Wine Consumers Free My Grapes campaign.
It’s time to end the dumb, destructive, and job-killing barriers to interprovincial trade of Canadian wine. - Scott Brison, MP
"It's time to end the dumb, destructive, and job-killing barriers to interprovincial trade of Canadian wine," Brison said.
According to Stutz, changing the law would not drastically affect Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation coffers, because direct-to-consumer shipments from wineries would only make up a small fraction of overall sales.
In a news release, Shirley-Ann George, president of the Alliance of Canadian Wine Consumers, congratulated Albas for his initiative because it would provide an exemption for the shipment of wine for personal consumption between provinces.
"Most importantly, this exemption includes both personally accompanied wine and wine ordered by phone, online or through a wine club," she said.
Established last November, FreeMyGrapes.ca has worked to raise awareness of the need to amend what the lobby group calls an archaic.
"It's time the law was brought into the 21st century. This bill is a major step forward in our campaign to let Canadians buy more Canadian wine," she said.