Liquor Minister wants to reassure BC’s wine industry

"Work has begun in earnest," says Minister. Others say not fast enough.

The letter below was released on Thursday by the office of Rich Coleman, BC's Minister of Energy and Mines, and the boss of everything related to liquor sales in our Province. It garnered this comment on Facebook from the maverick Fairview Cellars proprietor Bill Eggert: "Be a leader not a follower. Why did you have to align your position with other Provinces? Make your own position."

Tinhorn Creek's Sandra Oldfield is keeping the pressure up on the Minister with this tweet tonight:

Clearly the industry is itching for change, but governments move slowly. Coleman should be commended for keeping the dialogue going, and for making his intentions known. 

“Province supports further liquor reform”

By Rich Coleman

With Bill C-311 currently before the Senate, I want to reassure British Columbians our government is committed to opening domestic markets for B.C. wines.

This week, our senior liquor officials attended meetings in Quebec with their provincial counterparts where the direct shipment of wine was discussed. The meetings provided the first forum since Bill C-311 passed in the House of Commons where jurisdictions across the country could discuss the growing interest surrounding ecommerce and the direct shipment of wine.

Our government recognizes direct sales are important to our wine industry, and we are prepared to champion further changes and reforms. That being said, it is also important for people to understand this is a very complicated issue, which will require the co-operation of other provinces and territories.

Contrary to some public reports, Bill C-311 does not allow for the direct sale of liquor. To allow this to happen, we need the co-operation and support of other provinces because Bill C-311 simply clarifies a province’s right to set limits to the quantity that can be imported and in what manner.

It’s worth noting that debate by federal MPs in the House of Commons also clearly articulated that the purpose of Bill C-311 is to remove restrictions overseen by Ottawa and allow provinces to set policy that they feel is appropriate. Lawmakers in Ottawa have recognized that liquor importation should be a provincial responsibility and each jurisdiction should be free to set their own policies.

On June 7, 2012, we set our personal limits for the importation of tax-free liquor into British Columbia. This move aligns our rules with Ontario, Nova Scotia and the Yukon, which are among the highest in Canada.

It was a step forward and much more work will be required together with other provinces and territories to ensure we create a more open, level and competitive playing field for B.C.’s wine industry. Once again, I want to assure your readers that work has begun in earnest.

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