Bill C-311 Ottawa Update- part one
Where to begin? Late Tuesday afternoon I was gearing up for the first hour of debate at 3rd reading where I had hoped my Private Members Bill would be sent on to the Canadian Senate, also known as “The Other Place” when referred to in the House of Commons. I will confess that I was feeling somewhat positively optimistic of the Bill going forward in large part as it has received unanimous all party support in the House of Commons with no amendments proposed at any stage of debate. Further I had also received commitments from all of the major political parties including Green Party leader Elizabeth May that there would be support for the Bill going forward.
It is also important to recognize the important of time in this subject for a number of different reasons that I will also illustrate. From the perspective of the wine industry June, July, August, September and early October are the key months when the winery tourism cycle is in full swing and literally thousands of Canadian wine connoisseurs drop by for tasting, tours and most importantly cellar door sales. This is an extremely important time for the Canadian wine industry and every wine maker I have met to date has shared the disappointment of having to turn away cellar door sales to customers from other Provinces solely on account of the IILA legislation. Capitalizing on this year’s season is very important and more so because I have also yet to meet a winemaker who is not excited about the prospects of having more revenue to invest in the winery operation to in many cases either expand or otherwise increase the quality of production. Let’s not forget that better quality wines also can mean more revenue for producers, sadly though it is currently easier today to get that revenue from a customer in Japan because it is illegal to directly sell to a customer in Calgary. Bottom line is that the sooner we can get this done for the Canadian wine industry the better!
Now for the second part of why timing is so important. As per the Parliamentary calendar, both the House of Commons and more importantly in this case the Senate, rise for the summer in late June and do not return until late September. Meaning it is critically important to get Bill C-311 before the Canadian Senate ASAP in the hopes that the Bill can potentially receive Royal Assent in time for what is essentially this year’s wine season. The later Bill C-311 comes before the Senate the greater the odds that the Bill would not receive Royal Assent until late in the fall effectively meaning the Canadian wine industry would lose an entire season before they could capitalize on this bill. Why so late? The way that Private Members business works is that if the Bill could not be passed during the first hour of debate it is required to come back before the House for a second hour of debate. That may not sound like a much of an issue only in this case my next turn to be before the House of Commons for the second hour of debate would not be until late in October meaning a huge loss of time and potential revenue for our Canadian wine industry.
With time being of the essence it was thus from my perspective and that of the Canadian wine industry critically important to get Bill C311 through the House of Commons during the first hour of debate on Tuesday evening. What happened next I will speak more on in my next update on this subject coming shortly.