A very large majority of Canadians (78%) are of the opinion that they should be allowed to bring any amount of beer or wine they buy in one province into another province, according to a new poll.

A very large majority of Canadians (78%) are of the opinion that they should be allowed to bring any amount of beer or wine they buy in one province into another province, according to a new poll.
Photo Credit: Chris Young/Canadian Press

Majority of Canadians want to dismantle trade barriers between provinces: poll

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Nine in ten Canadians want to tear down trade barriers between provinces that prevent them from bringing legally purchased products such as alcohol from one province to another, according to a new poll.

According to the Ipsos Public Affairs poll commissioned by the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI), the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF), and the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS), 89 per cent of respondents agree that Canadians should be able to bring any legally purchased product from one province to another.

Eighty-four per cent of Canadians say should be able to order wine directly from a winery in another province. And eight in ten Canadians (78 per cent) say they should be able to bring any amount of beer or wine they buy in one province into another province.

Supreme Court to hear landmark case
Though few Canadians have heard of the case of New Brunswick man Gérard Comeau, who is the subject of a case appealed by the Government of New Brunswick to the Supreme Court of Canada, eight in ten Canadians think he should win the case.
Though few Canadians have heard of the case of New Brunswick man Gérard Comeau, who is the subject of a case appealed by the Government of New Brunswick to the Supreme Court of Canada, eight in ten Canadians think he should win the case. © Michele Brideau/Radio-Canada

The poll results came out as the Supreme Court of Canada gets ready to hear the case of New Brunswick man fighting against a fine for bringing alcohol from neighbouring Quebec, where it is considerably cheaper.

In 2012, Gerard Comeau of Tracadie, New Brunswick was charged with bringing home more than the legal limit of beer and liquor that he had purchased in Quebec.

Comeau fought the charge and was acquitted because section 121 of the Constitution states that products from any province “shall…be admitted free into each of the other Provinces.”

The province of New Brunswick has asked Canada’s highest court to rule on the case, saying the implications of the decision are far greater than the purchase of alcohol and that it “concerns issues of inter-provincial trade with significant consequences.”

Free trade with other countries, but trade barriers between provinces

At the same time as Canada vigorously negotiates free trade agreements with other countries, provinces within the country have put up trade barriers against each other. There are legal protections that limit trade in alcohol and other products, and prevent some professionals from practicing in other jurisdictions.

“Clearly, Canadians understand the advantages of free trade and want to fully enjoy those benefits within their own country, where many obstacles to truly free trade persist,” Michel Kelly-Gagnon, president and CEO of the MEI, said in a statement.

The MEI requested, and was granted, intervener status before the Supreme Court, which will allow it to present its arguments when the court hears the case on Dec. 6 and 7.

“We are hopeful the Court will uphold the trial court’s decision to strike down this obsolete law, which is a relic of the Prohibition era, and is contrary to the spirit of Confederation,” Howard Anglin, executive director at the Canadian Constitution Foundation, said in a statement. “This would have extraordinary benefits for the economy of the provinces—in addition to being a wonderful gift for Canadians on the occasion of the country’s 150th birthday.”

A study published in the Canadian Journal of Economics estimates that internal trade liberalization could add $50 billion to $130 billion to Canada’s overall GDP, the three organizations that commissioned the poll said in a joint statement.

“Using a mid-range estimate of $100 billion, these economic gains represent more than $2,700 per Canadian,” the statement said.

With files from Lynn Desjardins

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3 comments on “Majority of Canadians want to dismantle trade barriers between provinces: poll
  1. Rene albert says:

    Canada has less population than the state of California.

    Why in hell do we need all those provincial governments who cost us an arm and a leg, act like there’s no Constitution, and can’t even get along with the Federal government or their provincial neighbours…

    Lets replace provinces like they did in France with administrative units, and have the same laws across the country…

  2. R Harr says:

    Totally agree, there should be no tax or trade barrier between provinces, all Canadian province’s & its territories should only include a Federal tax of 5% & a provincial tax of 5%, no goods & services should ever be taxed more than once in its lifetime,& there after taxes frozen & never to increase, we are to be responsible & manage our funds appropriately, all Canadians deserve better moving forward.

    That’s my story for now,

  3. Donald Clink says:

    What is the supposed justification for trade barriers between provinces?

    I believe that the 90% of Canadians who wish these barriers to be removed, are right.