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Row of Wine Bottles (Darren Falkenberg/Darren Falkenberg / Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Row of Wine Bottles (Darren Falkenberg/Darren Falkenberg / Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Globe editorial

Let the wine flow Add to ...

MPs have reached all-party support on an issue – a rare political feat in Ottawa. This is to be applauded, particularly as it will yield better access to good Canadian wine.

Though hard to believe, Canada has a Prohibition-era law that makes it illegal for individuals to take wine into another province without going through their liquor control board. Someone from Ontario can ship home a case of Californian shiraz after touring the vineyards, but it is illegal to do the same after tasting merlot in Kelowna.

Dan Albas, a Conservative MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla whose riding includes many British Columbian vineyards, introduced a private member’s bill in October to amend the outdated 83-year-old law and allow for free flow of wine for personal consumption. It passed second reading last month. Currently, all “imports” of wine from one province to another must be made by a provincial liquor board or designated private company.

That law makes it illegal to ship boxes of wine across provincial borders for individuals or wine clubs, and it prohibits wineries from marketing and shipping direct to consumers in other provinces. “If someone travels to Gatineau [Que.]and purchases wine, the moment it is brought back to Ottawa, the person has broken a federal law,” Mr. Albas says.

The archaic legislation harms the growing number of wineries across the country (200 in B.C. alone), limits sales for small vineyards and restricts access to the best Canadian wines.

Mostly it is uncivilized.

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