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February 02, 2022

Time for wine to flow freely across provincial borders?

Like many of us, Shirley-Ann George likes a glass of Canadian wine now and then. No problem there – unless, as George found out, you try to bring your favourite vintage across a provincial border. That's because it's actually illegal to transport even a single bottle from one province to another.

WineRealizing she couldn't bring back a bottle from her favourite B.C. winery or even  join a local wine club that would have sent her a few mix-and-match samples every month, George wanted to fight back.

"If I read about some wine in a wine column, or visit a winery, I want to be able to go online and order their wine – right now," George told the Ottawa Citizen recently.

But thanks to the prohibition-era Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act bringing a few bottles back from out of province has actually been against the law for more than 80 years.

While the law obviously affects individuals, critics argue that it also has a negative impact on the hundreds of small wineries in Canada who could boost sales if they were able to cater to tourists or wine fans in other provinces. Tourists, for instance, would like to be able to ship purchases home so they didn’t have to crate it around on their trip.

In fact, wine clubs and vintners maintain that it’s easier to ship Canadian wine to the U.S. and other countries than it is to ship throughout Canada

That’s why George, along with the Canadian Vintners Association and the Alliance of Canadian Wine Consumers decided to endorse the efforts of Kelowna MP Ron Cannan who hopes to modernize Canada's archaic wine shipping laws.

His proposed amendment to the existing Act would create a "personal use" exemption so that Canadian wine lovers could legally move wine across provincial borders.

If you’re on board, you can support this effort by visiting the campaign's website at FreeMyGrapes. From there, you can also write your MPs, MPPs and MLAs, as well as sign a petition to argue against the "outdated and patronizing law that needs to change."

Would you support such an initiative? Are you a cross-border shopper when it comes to wines and spirits?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...