The risk of provinces losing tax revenue does not legitimize denying Canadians the right to freely do business across provincial boundaries, MLI Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley said in an interview with the John Gormley show in Saskatchewan.
“You can’t simply say ‘Oh, the reason I’m not respecting the constitution is because I really need the money’. Please. This is an embarrassing argument”, says Crowley.
Crowley was commenting on the case of Gerard Comeau, a New Brunswick man charged with transporting beer and liquor back to his home from Quebec.
Comeau is currently in court challenging the charges on the grounds that internal trade barriers, such as those related to transporting alcohol, are unconstitutional.
Earlier this week an executive with NB Liquor, the agency responsible for selling alcohol in New Brunswick, said that relaxing trade barriers would be devastating for the organization’s revenues.
That may be, says Crowley, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Fathers of Confederation said explicitly when the country was created that commerce should move freely across provincial boundaries.
“There is no constitutional ground for the New Brunswick government to stop Mr. Comeau from buying beer in Quebec and bringing it in” to New Brunswick, Crowley told host John Gormley. “In fact, I think what they’ve done is completely unconstitutional”.
The Macdonald-Laurier Institute has laid out in detail the constitutional argument against internal trade barriers in its paper “Free Trade Within Canada: Say Goodbye To Gold Seal”.
Crowley also spoke to All In A Day, a local Ottawa CBC Radio One show.
He was also quoted in an article on the subject that appeared in the Globe and Mail.