Yesterday my Private member’s Bill was placed on the Parliament of Canada’s Notice Paper. This means that after 48 hours the Bill may be introduced into the House for introduction and first reading. Generally speaking, being on the Notice Paper is the first public aspect of what I have learned is a very involved process with the drafting of a Private members Bill. While it is common that Bills are not more candidly discussed until they come before Parliament, I would like to share further information on my Private members Bill directly here with the many of you from my riding of Okanagan- Coquihalla who follow my website.
Selecting a Private Member’s Bill is a more challenging task than at first I had anticipated. There are many worthy issues to take forward, however it was important to me that I work on a Bill that would be of benefit to citizens from Okanagan- Coquihalla. On the Notice Paper you can see that I intend to introduce the following bill…
September 28, 2011 — Mr. Albas (Okanagan—Coquihalla) — Bill entitled “An Act to amend the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (interprovincial importation of wine for personal use)”.
This was an issue that arose during the election at all candidates forums and more recently, during my summer listening tour in many areas of my riding .
The Okanagan was literally settled a great many years ago for the unique ability to grow world-class fruit. Today, we still have world-class fruit but that now includes grapes that many hardworking and innovative vintners have discovered can make truly internationally renowned wine. That in turn has led to many outstanding wineries and the success and knowledge base cultivated in the Okanagan is fast spreading to other regions of British Columbia. For an idea on the tremendous growth of the BC Wine industry considers that since 2001 the amount of wineries has increased from 61 to close to 200 today. In terms of grapes that means today there are over 9000 acres producing a crop yield in excess of $ 40 million annually. The amount of jobs, festivals and related spinoffs industries has been extensive. As an example, even wine barrels are now beautifully handcrafted in Oliver, British Columbia.
The challenge is that currently today there is a Prohibition era 1928 Federal law that makes it illegal as a private citizen to purchase wine in one Province and import that wine back home into your home Province. This law in effect acts as an inter-provincial trade barrier and also deprives wine consumers of the ability to have freedom of choice to sample from the winery of their choosing. Every province in Canada now has a growing winery industry that can also significantly benefit from having an open Canadian marketplace that will help increase sales, raise capital and assist with expansion and investment that also helps to create jobs. We know firsthand from the Okanagan the value of a thriving wine industry and I believe that opening up the Canadian market to consumers will be a benefit to the wine industry across Canada as a whole.
I have also set up a Facebook page for wine lovers across the country who can support my Private member’s Bill to amend this out of date legislation. I am very happy to see that already groups like Freemygrapes.ca and the Canadian Vintners Association get on board to show their support for the Bill. If you would like to join the facebook page click here.
I will speak more to the specifics of my bill in future posts however it was important to me that citizens of Okanagan- Coquihalla hear firsthand about my Bill and the reasons why I have decided to take this issue forward. Please feel free to comment here or on the Facebook page. Your input on this important subject would be most welcome.
- Okanagan MP Albas proposes wine pour across provincial borders (theprovince.com)