I wouldn't be surprised if our Canadian liquor regulators and producers might be dipping into their own products a little more these days. These seem to be chaotic times for what is normally a rather stable, well-regulated industry. The industry is under siege on at least three fronts at present.
Perhaps the most well-known is the Supreme Court challenge launched by New Brunswick to protect its import restrictions. A court in the province acquitted a resident of importing more liquor from another province than permitted by provincial law. The province appealed and the case has now been heard by the Supreme Court with a decision still pending.
Should the province lose the appeal, it might well open up provincial borders to booze coming in unregulated from any other part of Canada. The impact of that on small, regional, operations remains a concern for many.
In a similar vein, the government of Australia has launched a complaint with the World Trade Organization, complaining that Canada, and several provinces, including Nova Scotia, are not complying with WTO regulations when it comes to restrictions on importation of Australian wines into this country. Again, there are concerns about the impact on the local markets should the complaint be accepted.
But the biggest challenge, and the one which will have the most impact on consumers, is the pending change to the way the federal government taxes beer in this country.
Effective April 1, the government will impose regime which will result in perpetual increases in the tax on beer. The tax will be increased every year according to the rate of inflation. No other commodity in the country will be taxed in such a way. Not unexpectedly there is considerable effort being made to have this system changed and rightly so.
It's all enough to drive a person to drink!
Frank Likely is a retired Anglican minister and past president of the Springhill and Area Chamber of Commerce.