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Judge throws out Canada beer barrier

AFP , Friday 29 Apr 2016
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Booze sales across Canada may soon be liberalized after a judge in New Brunswick province on Friday ruled that restrictions on the sale and movement of alcohol were unconstitutional.

The case involved a retired steel worker who fought a $233 fine for bringing alcohol from Quebec into his home province in contravention of New Brunswick's Liquor Control Act.

The measure -- similar to those in other provinces -- limits the importation of alcohol for personal use to one bottle of liquor or wine, or 12 pints of beer.

Federal police charged Gerard Comeau in 2012 for transporting 14 cases of beer, two bottles of whisky and a bottle of liqueur across the border from neighboring Quebec province, where they are cheaper.

Provincial court Judge Ronald LeBlanc dismissed the charge, ruling that the Fathers of Confederation had envisioned an economic union with unfettered trade between Canada's regions.

The decision points to Section 121 of the Constitution Act, which says all goods from a province are to be admitted free into each of the others.

Comeau told reporters outside the courtroom that he looked forward to having police return his seized booze, and travelling to Quebec to buy more.

"After three years, I'm thirsty," public broadcaster CBC quoted him as saying.

The provincial liquor restrictions have long irritated many Canadian drinkers and local vintners who complained they could not easily sell wine to other regions in Canada.

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