Cannan tables Motion 601

Last week I attended a funding announcement along with my colleagues Minister Stockwell Day and Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Gerry Ritz which will help Canada's wine producers increase exports and strengthen their production processes.

At a roundtable that followed, BC Agriculture Minister Ben Stewart joined us and together with Minister Ritz presented a cheque of $533,000 to B.C. Fruit Growers Association President Joe Sardinha to help with removal and disposal costs of tree fruits and grapes.

Through the Orchards and Vineyards Transition Program, a federal program being complemented by a provincial replant program, the federal government has contributed $4.98 million towards strategic plans and removal costs and the province has provided $3 million through a grant to the Investment Agriculture Foundation for an orchard replant program.

While the local vintners expressed their appreciation for our federal support, what they really wanted to hear is that our Conservative Government is getting rid of an antiquated law that prevents direct to consumer wine sales outside the Province.

I don’t have to tell you that Canada’s achievement as one of the best wine-producing countries in the world is a great success story. Many of the best are right here in the Okanagan Valley.

Much of that success has to do with free trade yet, within our own country, internal provincial trade barriers are preventing that same success from taking hold.

It’s time Canadians from coast to coast had the opportunity to purchase and enjoy Canadian wines for their personal consumption directly from the wineries regardless of where they reside in the country.

In order to make that happen however, we need to change the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act, 1928(IILA) which currently prevents Canadian vintners from shipping directly to Canadian consumers who live outside the vintner’s province unless it is consigned to the province’s liquor control board.

Originally, the IILA was established after attempts at prohibition failed and at a time when provincial governments were facing a depression, needed tax revenue, and wanted to satisfy the public by providing some control over liquor sales.

But it’s time to bring the Act into the 21st century.

I along with Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Minister Stockwell Day have been working on moving this issue forward for the past year and Minister Ritz has been talking to his provincial counterparts to gauge their interest in finding a solution that reflects the realities of modern day business.

To that end, this week, I tabled Motion 601 in the House of Commons which supports allowing for a personal exemption under the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act, recognizing that Canadian consumers would enjoy greater access and choice in Canadian wine products while benefiting our tourism sector.

As well, the grassroots support is really ramping up with a writing campaign underway from the BC Wine Institute, BC wineries, local Chambers of Commerce and just last Friday, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce launched a website www.freemygrapes.ca to keep the ball moving forward.

This is win-win for our local wineries: it would enhance the accessibility of Canadian wines, provide improved marketing options and the possibility of creating brand loyalty, familiarity and sales to a much larger consumer base.

As the wineries have said in their letter of support, “This would support Canadian demand for home-grown products as well as the growth of wine and culinary tourism in wine producing areas which provides a wide range of benefits, including foreign exchange, the creation of full- and part-time jobs, and the generation of secondary economic activity.”

The bottom line is it will be great for the wine industry and Canadians will be able to get to know and enjoy some of the great award winning vintages that are produced in this country. I’m hoping that common sense will prevail and this archaic law will soon be brought into the 21st Century.

Ron Cannan is the MP for Kelowna-Lake Country. If any of you have any questions or comments on federally-related matters, please contact Ron at [email protected] or by phone at 470-5075.

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About the Author

The Honourable Ron Cannan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in January, 2006. He was subsequently elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. He is a member of the Conservative Caucus.

On September 13th, 2012 Ron was summoned to be a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and will provide advice to the Government as a member of the Priorities and Planning Sub-Committee on Government Administration.

Ron successfully uses his experience and knowledge as a long-time Kelowna City Councillor and regional government representative to be an effective and enthusiastic champion for his riding and his constituents.

His greatest satisfaction comes from helping local organizations and citizens obtain the support they require from Ottawa. 

He is also dedicated to doing what it takes to ensure that the growing and vibrant communities in his riding continue to thrive and prosper.

He is proud of the partnership and cooperation between federal, provincial and municipal governments which have resulted in significant infrastructure projects including upgrades to Highway 97, expansion of the Kelowna International Airport, a new horticulture strategy for fruit growers, obtaining a full service passport office for Kelowna and addressing critical economic issues such as labour skills shortages.

He works closely with the local Chambers of Commerce and once a year arranges meetings for the Chamber with Cabinet Ministers and senior policy staff in Ottawa to move forward important local issues such as crime prevention and labour skills shortages.

He is also an ardent champion for important community initiatives including homelessness, mental health, women’s resources, and support of arts and culture.

On Parliament Hill, Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade since 2006 supporting initiatives which will broaden the economic opportunities for local businesses and businesses Canada-wide.

In previous parliamentary sessions Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee for Government Operations and Estimates, Veteran’s Affairs, Human Resources and Social Development, the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee, and the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.

Ron is also involved in a variety of inter-parliamentary organizations: he is Vice Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, and a member of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship group.

As Chair of the Conservative Wine Caucus, Ron works with his colleagues across the country to promote the wine regions of Canada.  Ron tabled Motion 218(formerly Motion 601) which supports direct to consumer purchasing of Canadian wine. His motion became Bill C-311, sponsored by MP Dan Albas, seconded by Ron, which was passed into law on June 28th, 2012.

Prior to entering politics, Ron developed a diverse business background as a small business owner and had several years experience in marketing and sales management working with corporations including Coca-Cola, Costco and Corus Entertainment.

Very active in his community, Ron has been a Director for both the Central Okanagan Regional District and the Central Okanagan Hospital Board. Ron also served on the Okanagan University College Access to Training Advisory Board, the Glenmore Elementary School Parents Advisory Council, and the Kelowna Christian School Fund Raising Committee. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Volunteer Festival. Currently Ron is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna and, along with his wife Cindy, was the honorary Chair of the 2012 Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Ball.

Ron lives a family-oriented and active lifestyle with his wife Cindy. He is the proud father of three daughters and grandfather to three grandsons. His hobbies include music and sports.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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