The Canadian Constitution Foundation is launching a new crowd funding campaign to help pay for the legal defence of Gerard Comeau, a retired steelworker who in October 2012 went on a booze run to Quebec. When Gerard crossed the bridge back into New Brunswick, the RCMP pulled him over. He was charged with illegally importing alcohol into his home province and his legally purchased beer and liquor was destroyed.
“Yes, as bizarre as it sounds, it really is illegal in Canada to take wine, beer, or spirits in some quantities from one province to the next,” said CCF Executive Director Marni Soupcoff. “But instead of knuckling under and paying a fine, Gerard is challenging the laws that say he can’t bring more than one bottle of wine or 12 pints of beer from any other province into New Brunswick—and the CCF is supporting him.”
The campaign is crucial because there is no way Gerard could afford to pursue this constitutional legal challenge on his own. Besides offering an entertaining history lesson on our courts’ legal crackdown on freedom, the crowdfunding campaign also calls on Canadians to stand alongside Gerard as he takes on the New Brunswick government in a case so crucial to interprovincial trade that it is likely to end up before the Supreme Court.
“New Brunswick’s law prohibiting the importation of more than one bottle of wine or 12 pints of beer from another province is related to the federal Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act, a law passed in 1928,” Soupcoff explained. “We will be arguing that such laws are unconstitutional violations of section 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867, which protects the free flow of goods from one province into another.”
The campaign suggests these laws benefit government monopoly sales agencies while constraining private businesses and citizens. Government alcohol agencies determine what products are bought and sold and at what price. There are billions of dollars at stake for the provincial governments. It’s almost guaranteed that they will try to defend their monopoly up through all possible avenues of appeal. As the CCF presents Gerard’s case, every province will be watching.
“If Gerard wins, similar cases are almost certain to follow Canada-wide,” said Soupcoff. “It’s an important battle. And because the CCF is a registered charity, donations to the crowdfunding campaign are tax deductible.”
Those who want to fight for Gerard can go online to make a gift via paypal or credit card at theccf.ca/freebeer. By donating to the Indiegogo campaign, supporters can ensure the CCF is fully prepared to fight for the constitutional rights of all Canadians’ -- and to make sure that this time, freedom wins.