Booze barriers coming down

In a small victory for economic freedom, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario has decided it’s OK for people to bring in booze from other provinces.

Many people, of course, might not have realized that you couldn’t take alcohol from one province to another. But this summer, the LCBO board decided that Ontarians can bring up to three litres of spirits, nine litres of wine, and 24.6 litres of beer into the province. “Most provinces hand territories have comparable provisions, though some have importation limits that are lower than Ontario,” a note on the LCBO’s web site states.

The change didn’t require legislative amendments. Rather, it was the result of a policy resolution by the LCBO’s board, says spokesman Chris Layton.

Critics, including many lawyers, have long decried rules in the federal Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act that prevent shipments of alcohol across provincial boundaries. But the latest LCBO policy change doesn’t apply to direct shipments of alcohol from a producer, such as a winery, to a consumer as the federal law remains in place. That means Ontarians can’t have a B.C. winery send wine to their home. Instead, they’d have to fly to British Columbia to pick up their nine litres to bring back to Ontario or hope the wine is available at their local LCBO.

The note on the LCBO policy change states that it’s legal for people to bring alcohol into Ontario “as long as it is for personal consumption.”

“The new policy should dispel any confusion that this practice is not allowed,” according to the notice.

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