Last week on April 3rd, the House of Commons Finance Committee met to consider Bill C-311, which would amend the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act to permit the inter-provincial shipment of wine for personal use in certain circumstances (see earlier story: Reform Process for Wine Shipping Law Begins). A number of presentations were made to the Committee in support of Bill C-311 including from Shirley-Ann George (FreeMyGrapes.ca), Miles Prodan (BC Wine Institute) and myself. You can view the video of the meeting here (if you have Windows Media Player) and it will also be broadcast on CPAC this Thursday April 12th at 8 am PST. The Committee unanimously approved the Bill with all party support and sent it back to the House of Commons for third reading and a final vote (which should occur sometime in the first part of May). Following its expected approval by the House, the Bill will then go to the Senate, where it may or may not be dealt with quickly (the Senate has its own separate procedural system and it is not clear whether any additional hearings or meetings will occur in the Senate). As a result, while it is possible that the Bill may obtain all necessary approvals before the summer recess, that is by no means assured ... it could be some time in the Fall before the final stretch is reached and continued support for the Bill is essential as it progresses. The sponsor of the Bill, MP Dan Albas, provides his comments and additional links here: Post Committee Discussion on Bill C-311.
It is also important to remember that the amendment, if and when it passes, will permit each province to set a limit for the amount of wine that can be shipped or transported into that province. As a result, if real progress is to be achieved, it is essential that the provinces set reasonable limits for these purposes. As one of two leading wine producing provinces (and as the only one that is actively supporting this Bill), British Columbia is in a unique position to take leadership on this issue and to establish a precedent for the other provinces which I would suggest should be 2 cases per person per month (which is the same limit as Oregon - both CA and WA have no limits for personal consumption).
Bill C-311 continues to attract considerable support from the public and the media, the latest of which was a supportive editorial running in both the Vancouver Sun (Open Provincial Wine Barriers) and Ottawa Citizen (Free Our Wine).