Inter-Provincial Trade is Legal in Canada by Tom Black

Tom Black

So how many times have you heard people say that those old laws that the OLA keeps bringing up to defend the property rights of people, are irrelevant and outdated and not of consequence in this new ‘modern’ Canada? Well folks, the province of New Brunswick and the RCMP will tell you differently. It seems that the RCMP don’t have very much exciting to do some days. So in October 2012, they decided to set up a sting to catch the ‘low-down criminal elements’ in New Brunswick who had the gall to cross the Restigouche River at Campbellton, New Brunswick, to buy booze in the Quebec town of Pointe-a-la-Croix. They caught 62 year old Gerard Comeau, returning with twelve cases of beer and three bottles of liquor, a 200 km trip that he did two to three times a year.

With charges laid, Mr. Comeau lost his booze and had to pay a $292 fine which I am sure, would have helped to pay for the thousands of dollars of RCMP time and gas in catching this dangerous criminal. Oh, but no payday for the force today since Mr. Comeau decided to fight the charge. The Canadian Constitutional Foundation got involved. They have said that they are in it for the long haul and have launched a ‘crowd-funding drive’ to help with Mr. Comeau’s cost. Lawyer, Karen Sellick of the Foundation said that line 121 of the 1867 Canadian Constitution (the British North America Act or BNA) actually says “all articles of growth, produce or manufacture of any of the provinces shall, from and after union, be admitted free into each of the other provinces”.

The expectation going into provincial court was that the constitutional challenge would end up before the Supreme Court of Canada. On April 30, 2016, the first leg of this challenge ended very positively for Mr. Comeau, when provincial court judge, LeBlanc ruled in favour of the challenge and with a decision that was 160 minutes long, he basically stated that section 134 (b) of New Brunswick’s law, violates section 121 of the BNA and dismissed the charges against Mr. Comeau. There is probably a good chance that the case will be appealed to a higher court because there is considerable potential fall-out from this ruling concerning the milk, egg and chicken boards as to their ability to cross or not cross, provincial borders.

The greatest importance of this case from my point of view, is the fact that the original laws that created this great country and the intent of the law makers ruled the day, in this court house. The other lesson for everyone here is to realize how important it is for the regular citizen to stand up for what they know, are their rights. Mr. Comeau could have paid $292 and walked away. Instead, he stood on principle and spent three years going to court. This moral stand gave opportunity for others like the Canadian Constitutional Foundation a chance to present ‘the intent of the law’ and to ‘right a wrong’.