Andrew Bernstein tells BBC that Comeau Decision Important for Federalism

April 19, 2018

Torys Litigation and Dispute Resolution Practice head Andrew Bernstein has told the BBC the Supreme Court’s decision in R v. Gerard Comeau was an “important decision when you look at the way the court is going to look at federalism.”

The case follows a New Brunswick man who travelled to neighbouring Québec to buy cheap alcohol with the intention of bringing it back into his home state. The man was fined under New Brunswick provincial law—which limits the amount of alcohol you can bring in for personal use—but challenged that decision.

The BBC article writes that the man’s lawyers “argued the country’s internal trade barriers infringed on Mr. Comeau’s constitutional rights by conflicting with a section of the constitution that states that Canadian goods shall ‘be admitted free into each of the other provinces’.”

The SCC’s April 19 decision upheld a New Brunswick’s liquor law.

Andrew told the BBC the case was important when it came to federalism, particularly with a number of a pertinent provincial-federal issues popping up in recent times.

An excerpt from the BBC article is below.

Wineries and liquor producers across Canada had also been hopeful the court case would open the door to allowing them to sell and ship more of their product to clients nationwide.

Mr. Bernstein said the ruling does not preclude that from ever happening, just that provinces will need to co-operate “if we want to allow Canadian businesses to expand their markets to other provinces”.

“This is going to have to be negotiated by the provinces rather than decreed by the Supreme Court,” he said.

You can learn more about Torys Litigation and Dispute Resolution Practice by heading to the practice page.


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