By Michael Tutton
HALIFAX (CP) – Senior bureaucrats from
Vicki Harnish, the province’s deputy minister of finance, said during a briefing that the Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. would consider dropping the $1.32 per 12-pack handling fee it had planned to charge Molson (TSX:TPX.B) for beer produced at a new plant in Moncton, N.B., and sold in Nova Scotia.
In return, she said Nova Scotia wants New Brunswick to offer to lower its distribution fees – which range between $2.40 to $2.60 per 12-pack – for mid-sized breweries in Nova Scotia that ship to New Brunswick.
Harnish noted that demand is largely on behalf of Sleeman Breweries (TSX:ALE), which has a brewery in
“What we do need is a reply with some sort of counter-offer or initiative that would make the playing field more level for our
The province is eager to make a deal after 14 months of stalemated talks, she added.
Last week, Graham suggested
MacDonald countered he wouldn’t “sell the farm” to accommodate his neighbouring province.
That deal allowed Moosehead, based in
There’s been speculation the Nova Scotian economic officials are exacting revenge over Molson’s 2004 decision to locate its factory in Moncton, rather than in Amherst, N.S.
However, for observers who favour free trade, the dispute is simply the latest example of politics trumping the economy in Atlantic Canada.
“The premiers should stop drinking beer and start selling it,” said Charles Cirtwill, acting president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, a right-leaning think tank.
“This is a demonstration of just how serious these guys are about removing trade barriers: not that serious at all.”
Molson has said the timing is critical as it prepares to distribute its products across the Maritimes.
Ferg Devins, the vice-president of public affairs at Molson
“Molson is confident that
Neither premier was available for comment.
Gisele Regimbal, a spokeswoman for intergovernmental affairs in
The offer also includes proposals to reduce fees for the micro-breweries based in both provinces.
“Negotiations are going well, and we’d rather have them happen between the two parties until such time as we can come out and say what the resolution is,” she said.