Wine bill gains all-party support

Private member's bill from Okanagan Coquihalla MP Dan Albas clears second reading

  • Dec. 9, 2011 12:00 p.m.

In a rare moment in Parliament, the private member’s bill of a local MP has become the toast of the town after taking another step to uncorking the red tape around the Canadian wine industry.

The private member’s bill from Conservative MP Dan Albas (Okanagan-Coquihalla), championing inter-provincial importation of liquor, received all-party support during second reading Wednesday night in Ottawa.

“I was very encouraged to have support from all sides of the House. Certainly B.C. stood up for its constituents. We had people from Nanaimo, from Oliver, from Kamloops, myself, all voicing support for it. There were also some Ontarians as well,” he said Thursday.

This fall, Albas presented the bill calling for amendments to the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act, which would allow for inter-provincial importation of wine for personal use. He had drafted the amendments after hearing from so many in the riding about the issue this summer.

Although private member’s bills rarely garner enough support to make it into legislation, Albas said the bill hit home with parliamentarians and their constituents across the country.

“We believe that as Canadians wine consumers deserve that choice. It’s Prohibition-era legislation. Many of my colleagues said that, without a doubt, it just makes common sense to move this forward,” he said. “My amendment is a reasonable one that will address the issue directly and allow for some well-needed change. It was the right thing to do.”

The wine industry’s war on trade barriers within Canada is not over, quite yet. After receiving support, the bill will now move to the finance committee because the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency.

Albas said the committee has 60 days to review the bill and draft any changes required to legislation. Witnesses will be called to speak to the issue, and proposed amendments or changes would arise from those discussions. After the committee stage, the bill returns to the House of Commons for a report and third reading vote by MPs.

Albas remains optimistic the changes will move ahead. “I’m very heartened by the support we’ve received.”