Bill C-311, the federal wine shipping reform amendment, becomes law today at approximately 2 pm eastern time (11 am pacific). Canada will now have a limited national personal use exemption for the inter-provincial shipment of wine. The amended text of the relevant part of the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act now reads as follows:
3. (1) Notwithstanding any other Act or law, no person shall import, send, take or transport, or cause to be imported, sent, taken or transported, into any province from or out of any place within or outside Canada any intoxicating liquor, except such as has been purchased by or on behalf of, and that is consigned to Her Majesty or the executive government of, the province into which it is being imported, sent, taken or transported, or any board, commission, officer or other governmental agency that, by the law of the province, is vested with the right of selling intoxicating liquor.
(2) The provisions of subsection (1) do not apply to
(h) the importation of wine from a province by an individual, if the individual brings the wine or causes it to be brought into another province, in quantities and as permitted by the laws of the latter province, for his or her personal consumption, and not for resale or other commercial use.
As is apparent from the text, the amendment permits provincial law to affect the availability of the amendment. More information will become available on this issue in the coming weeks as analysis is completed on the effects of the relevant provincial laws. However, the current law in some provinces (such as Alberta and Manitoba) is clear that importation will be allowed in any reasonable quantity for personal use. Unfortunately, wineries and wine consumers in British Columbia are still waiting for the B.C. government to do the right thing and open this province to wine shipping. See this page for updates on this issue: Shipping Laws on Wine Within Canada.
Huge thanks go out to Dan Albas MP, Ron Cannan MP, Shirley-Ann George (of FreeMyGrapes.ca) and the Canadian Vintners Association for this historic progress.