Brian Lee CrowleyBrian Lee Crowley, Managing Director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, is available to comment on why it’s time to liberate trade between the provinces

OTTAWA, August 25, 2015 – A constitutional challenge from a New Brunswick man who bought beer in Quebec is threatening to tear down barriers to internal trade in Canada – and the Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s Brian Lee Crowley says it’s about time.

Hearings began on Tuesday, August 25, 2015 in the case of Gerard Comeau, who was charged for transporting 12 cases of beer and three bottles of liquor across the Quebec-New Brunswick border in 2012.

Comeau is fighting the charge on the grounds that laws preventing the transportation of alcohol across provincial boundaries -- laws that exist all over the country -- are an unconstitutional barrier to trade.

“This case is a welcome opportunity to help tear down the unconstitutional barriers to internal trade that continue to disfigure the economy”, says Crowley, the Managing Director of MLI.

“It’s time we grant Canadians the economic liberty Confederation promised them close to 150 years ago”.

Logo_Placeholder_RedCrowley is available to comment on the scope of the problem that internal trade barriers create and the solutions MLI has proposed for tearing them down.

He says the case promises to hold far-reaching implications for internal trade barriers, which create problems far larger than just for those related to beer and liquor. For example, companies’ ability to bid on cross-border contracts and workers’ eligibility for jobs are also affected.

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute has, during its first five years in existence, established itself as a thought leader on how to liberate trade between the provinces.

Lawyer Ian A. Blue wrote the 2010 MLI paper “Free Trade Within Canada: Say Goodbye To The Gold Seal”, which showed that barriers to trade between the provinces are unconstitutional.

Crowley, meanwhile, has authored several columns and co-authored a paper proposing solutions for a problem that has for too long impeded the free movement of goods, labour and trade within Canada.

History has repeatedly shown, he says, that the premiers are unwilling to take a stand on the issue. Leaving it up to them has produced little other than the ineffective 1994 Agreement on Internal Trade, which has proved useless at solving the problem.

He argues, echoing an MLI paper he co-authored in 2010, that the federal government needs to take the issue out of the hands of the provinces. Instead, he says, the feds should get tough with them by establishing a charter of economic rights that the courts would enforce.

“What makes it worthwhile for local communities to join a federation is at least partly the promise of higher prosperity made possible by larger national markets; but to realise that promise, you must create a nation-building federal government with the power and the will to give all citizens access to opportunity wherever it may be on the national territory”, wrote Crowley in a May 2014 column in the Globe and Mail.


Brian Lee Crowley is the Managing Director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

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