Loosening the Strings: Internal Free Trade in Canada

R. v. Gérard Comeau


In October, 2012 M. Comeau lived in Tracadie, New Brunswick.

He drove across the Restigouche River to Quebec He stopped at Pointe‐A‐la‐Croix and the Listiguj First Nation Indian Reserve.

All this took about fifteen minutes.

Once he arrived in Quebec, the RCMP observed him.

He purchased a quantity of beer, wine and liquor.

The RCMP followed him to the border and radioed ahead to Campbellton RCMP who stopped, searched and charged him Mr. Comeau.

The Charge

He was charged under s. 134(1)(b) of New Brunswick's Liquor Control Act:

134(1)(b). Except as provided by this Act or the regulations, no person, within the Province, by himself, his clerk, employee, servant or agent shall(b) have or keep liquor not purchased from the Corporation. M. Comeau's argument

We defended M. Comeau We argued that s. 134(b) was unconstitutional because it violated s. 121 of the Constitution Act 1867: All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces.

No one had ever successfully argued s. 121 before. Because 98 years ago, the SCC had said that the only things s. 121 specifically prohibited were custom duties at the provincial border and not any other types of interprovincial trade barriers Gold Seal Limited v The Attorney General of the Province of Alberta (1921), 62 SCR 424 [Gold Seal Case].

Comment on Subsequent Cases

What has changed since 1920 when the...

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