Supreme Court of Canada Rules in Favour of Restriction, Not Rights
Halifax – 19 April 2018: The Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling today to uphold protectionist restrictions on interprovincial trade is a missed opportunity to advance the Canadian economy by creating greater economic freedom as intended by our founding fathers.
Recall that Gerard Comeau, a New Brunswick resident, was stopped five years ago for having “imported” too much alcohol from Quebec. Fined by the police, he contested the charge and won his case before a trial judge who struck down a provincial law that dates back to the era of Prohibition, and that is contrary to the idea that led to Confederation.
For New Brunswickers such as Mr. Comeau, this decision adds insult to injury. In killing the Energy East pipeline, opponents of interprovincial trade stripped New Brunswick of badly needed jobs and investment. Now, the Supreme Court of Canada decision needlessly upholds economic inefficiency.
The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies is disappointed by the timidity of the court’s decision. The decision is contrary to the intentions of the Fathers of Confederation, and contrary to the interests of Canadians who consume alcohol and many other products unduly restricted.
“This decision is at odds with Canadians of 1867, and Canadians today”, said AIMS President Marco Navarro-Genie. “Economic freedom and the free flow of goods are fundamental to a modern, progressive society.”
If Canada is to be one country, as the Fathers of Confederation intended, then it must have one market from coast to coast as they also intended. Canadians are clear in their views. Today, 89% of respondents to a public opinion poll agreed that there should be freer trade across the country. It is the courts and Canadian governments that are out of step.
This decision is not the end of freer trade in Canada. All elected legislatures have the ability to bring solutions, by removing obstructing laws and regulation.
AIMS is a Canadian non-profit, non-partisan think tank that provides a distinctive Atlantic Canadian perspective on economic, political, and social issues. The Institute sets the benchmark on public policy by drawing together the most innovative thinking available from some of the world’s foremost experts and applying that thinking to the challenges facing Canadians. AIMS was incorporated as a non-profit corporations under Part II of the Canada Corporations Act and was granted charitable registration by Revenue Canada as of 3 October 1994. It received US charitable recognition under 501(c)(3), effective the same date.