A recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCOC) may reveal why this country will never develop more significant economic prosperity domestically let alone in world trade.
Global News reports of a decision over Section 121 of the Constitution. A New Brunswick resident had been fined for purchasing beer and spirits in Quebec which he was transporting to his home across Provincial boundaries into New Brunswick.
Gerard Comeau was stopped by RCMP, issued a summons on behalf of the New Brunswick government and his purchases were confiscated. Mr. Comeau challenged the actions under Section 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867 which reads:
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.
The case found its way to the SCOC and the ruling was in favor of the Crown which prosecuted Mr. Comeau.
Incredibly mealy-mouthed language evident from excerpts in the ruling were reported in the linked article.
For example, the following is a direct passage from the article:
The top court ruled that Section 121 prohibits laws that are mainly meant to prevent the movement of goods across provincial borders. The main purpose of the law Comeau challenged was to manage supply and demand of liquor in New Brunswick — therefore the law is constitutional.
I don’t know about you but “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” sounds pretty damn straightforward.
The apparent exception which the unanimous decision of the Court identified was that the laws of any particular Province could override Section 121.
Is not New Brunswick part of the “Union” anymore? So much for Federalism. So much for free trade.
Since I mention free trade I must quote another howler from the linked article.
“Section 121 does not impose absolute free trade across Canada,” the SCOC ruling said. [Emphasis added.]
“Absolute” free trade is redundant. Trade is either freely conducted or it is controlled, in which case it isn’t free trade. That’s why I’ve emphasized the word “impose” in the quote. It’s a curious way of stating the role of trade, the implication being that we require the permission or direction of government to engage in trade.
Trade is something people do. It’s a good thing. Otherwise we people wouldn’t do it. No one, least of all government backed by the SCOC against the people needs to “impose” trade upon us.
And, I disagree that the framers of the Constitution meant anything other than not obstructing the free flow of trade among the Provinces. They didn’t say, “unless a Province passes a law which incidentally affects the free admission of goods across borders.”
The SCOC is engaged in the revision of History and doing so in a mealy-mouthed manner, unbefitting this venerable institution.