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Beer battle threat to nation

A battle over cross-border beer sales threatens to end Canadian federalism as it was originally conceived, the New Brunswick government argues in a submission to the country's top court.

In a statement of facts to the Supreme Court of Canada, the province says allowing a New Brunswick man to purchase alcohol in a Quebec border town could ultimately "redesign Canadian federalism."

Gerard Comeau was charged with possessing liquor not purchased from the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation and fined $292.50 after police stopped him on his way home from Quebec with 14 cases of beer and three bottles of liquor in his trunk.

He took the case to court and a New Brunswick trial judge ruled that the charge violated constitutional law, overturning a ban on bringing alcohol across provincial boundaries.

"This case began as a simple ticket offence. A simple case it is not," the New Brunswick government said. "This 'simple case' and the trial decision that resulted raise the issue of competing constitutional provisions and propose an end to Canadian federalism as it was originally conceived, has politically evolved and is judicially confirmed."

At issue is a section of the New Brunswick Liquor Control Act prohibiting anyone in the province from having more than 12 pints of beer not purchased through a liquor store in the province.

However, the trial judge said the law is at odds with Section 121 of the Constitution Act, which reads “All articles of the growth, produce, or manufacture of any one of the provinces shall, from and after the union, be admitted free into each of the other provinces."



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