EU-Canada Trade Deal Unlikely to Affect BC Wine Industry

As has been widely reported in the mainstream media, Canada and the EU have reached agreement in principle for a free trade deal known as the Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement (more commonly referred to as CETA). Various stories have speculated on the effects of CETA upon the Canadian wine industry. It is not possible to comment with certainty upon any effects until such time as the actual text of the agreement is publicly available. However, it has become apparent from briefing notes, that it is unlikely that CETA will have any significant effect upon the BC wine industry. As has been previously reported, CETA does away with all tariffs on wine between Canada and the EU (in both directions). In practice and for the Canadian market, this means the removal of a very small (and basically insignificant) tariff that is currently applied to European wines entering Canada. It also requires some changes to the way that the LCBO (Ontario's liquor board) applies "cost of service" fees to wine sold in that province. However, it preserves the existing exclusive distribution channels for domestic wine in certain private retail stores (in BC, these are the VQA stores) and it preserves the ability of wineries to sell from their own tasting rooms (direct delivery). As a result, there appear to be very few effects on the BC wine industry. CETA may, in fact, provide benefits to BC wineries that use European products in their manufacturing processes as any Canadian tariffs on those products will be removed. 

Canadian Fed Govt to Amend Shipping Law for Beer, Spirits

Today's Throne Speech of Canada's federal government indicates that the federal law which restricts the interprovincial shipment of alcohol will be amended to permit the interprovincial shipment of beer and spirits. This move would extend the previous amendments of Bill C-311, which only applied to wine, so that all alcohol is covered. The text of throne speech simply says this: "our Government will amend the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act to allow Canadians to take beer and spirits across provincial boundaries for their own use".

Unfortunately, the previous amendments which related to wine only have had limited effectiveness due to various provincial government moves which have blocked the spirit of the amendments: see Shipping Law Update for details. It is not clear whether or not the federal government would also consider introducing a "national personal exemption" as part of the new amendments - which would have the effect of completely opening up the country to interprovincial shipment. 

BC Liquor Policy Review: Some Great Submissions

The BC Government's Liquor Policy Review is nearing the end of its initial consultation stage (only 3 weeks left), following which the Parliamentary Secretary responsible, John Yap, will prepare a report to the responsible Minister (Suzanne Anton) with recommendations for change. Thus far, the review panel has met with many stakeholder groups (see stakeholder meeting list here), received many submissions (see submissions list here) and received a huge amount of public input and comment via blog post, email and social media. Anyone intending to provide additional input should do so right away!

As would be expected in any review process such as this, the review panel has received a wide range of submissions covering off many different viewpoints and dealing with many different issues. The full list of submissions can be reviewed using the link above. However, I would like to highlight a few submissions which I think are particularly useful: Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (this well researched submission deals with reform of BC's wholesale pricing structure and with important distribution issues), BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association (deals with many licensing issues), Herb LeRoy Honourary Wine Envoy (deals with many issues of wineries), Liquor Policy Consultants - Dennis Coates and Bert Hick (deals with many issues from the perspective of two very knowledgeable consultants), and Victoria Police Department (deals with the problematic special occasion licensing system).

Finally, I must also recommend the submissions of Modernize Wine Association of BC (of which I am President) which deal with a wide range of issues including some of those covered by other groups above. If you would like a short summary of the Modernize Wine position, you can also read this op-ed piece from the Vancouver Sun written by John Skinner of Painted Rock Winery and myself: 5 Ways to Reform BC's Antiquated Liquor Laws

BC Liquor Policy Review in Full Stride

The BC Government's liquor policy review is now firing on all cylinders. The official web site, asking for public comment, launched this past weekend. In addition, the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the review, John Yap, has been doing extensive media interviews and is very active on social media, promoting the review and asking British Columbians for input. The purpose of the policy review is to ask stakeholders and the general public for their input on modernizing BC's liquor laws. The review has been attracting a great deal of positive media coverage: see BC Govt Launches New Website to Attract Public Opinion on Changing Liquor Laws, BC Launches Liquor Policy Review Website, BC Liquor Policy Review Website to Launch, and BC Taking Public Input on Changing Liquor Laws. If you care about modernizing BC's liquor laws, please take the time to submit your opinion on the site ...

BC Appoints New GM for Liquor Licensing Branch

The BC Government has appointed a new General Manager of the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, effective September 23rd. The new GM will be Doug Scott who was previously Assistant Deputy Minister of the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch. An e-mail announcement indicates that previously "he enjoyed a 20 year career with the RCMP where Doug was responsible for several significant change initiatives.  His skill in leading strategic change will be a key asset to government as decisions about liquor reform are made and implementation begins." In addition, the email notes that Mr. Scott has a "Master in Public Administration degree from Harvard University and a Master of Business Administration from Queen’s University". Mr. Scott succeeds Karen Ayers, the previous general manager, who retired at the end of June.

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