Evidence of meeting #50 for Finance in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was wines.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and through you to Mr. Cannan.

I certainly have appreciated your work on this file and the advice and the support you've given me so far. The expected economic impact is difficult to ascertain, and I do not endorse the practice of using optimistic numbers to paint a very bright picture, but what I can say is that many of the wineries I have spoken with have suggested a sales volume increase of at least 5% to 10%, which I think is a realistic expectation.

I can say that in every case, every winery I have spoken with has stated that the increased revenues will be directly and immediately reinvested into our local economies. New buildings, storage tanks, forklifts, barrels, and outright expansion are just some of the capital plans many wineries would like to accelerate. That's why they've been very supportive of Bill C-311.

On another note, in the riding south of mine, British Columbia—Southern Interior, is Oliver, a small town where there's a very strong business creating barrels for wine production, so there are a number of spinoff industries.

From my understanding in speaking to some of the purveyors in Nova Scotia, they are in an emerging wine region and they are trying to grow as much as they can. Whether that means wine tourism or agri-tourism and culinary tourism, it all seems to flow from great food and great wine.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Thank you.

I understand we may have an opportunity for a little tasting of some of that Nova Scotia beverage later this evening. I'm not sure how we got it into the province, but maybe we'll discuss that later.

The other question was whether the exemption itself was a reasonable amount. You referred in your opening comments to “reasonable”. Maybe you could expand a little on that and what the implications are. I know about 35 out of the 50 states have already implemented this type of interprovincial and interstate transfer of wines. Can you explain how we can do this so that we're working reasonably with our provincial partners and have an amount that won't affect the commercial industry as well?

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Thank you for the question, through you, Mr. Chair.

If any jurisdiction has found that these older archaic Prohibition-era laws certainly don't make sense in today's environment and are impeding jobs and economic growth, I think we'd all agree that they should be putting their shoulder to the wheel and making an effort to update some of these laws.

Cathy McLeod, the member of Parliament to the east of me, has done a lot of great work on the red tape commission. They actually identified this particular piece of legislation as being one of the major holdbacks for the wine industry. This is something that I think needs to be done.

I think, though, we also have to bear in mind that this is an area of provincial responsibility. That's why the language in the bill is such that it respects provincial jurisdiction and allows provinces to set appropriate policy in consultation with their industry and their consumers. That's something I'm very supportive of. If the bill can be improved by some other means while still protecting provincial autonomy in this regard, I certainly would appreciate the committee's views and its input.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

One quick question—

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Very quickly.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

I come from British Columbia; do we have the support of the Government of British Columbia?

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Through you, Mr. Chair, I'm very happy to say that Premier Clark and her government have been very steadfast. I had the opportunity to speak with her personally on the bill, and at the time Solicitor General Bond also reaffirmed their support of this bill and this approach as being good for B.C. and for the industry in general, and I appreciate that support.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Okay. Thank you, Mr. Cannan.

We'll go to Mr. Brison, please.

March 27th, 2012 / 3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you very much, Mr. Albas, for your work on this file. I'm delighted to be able to be one of the seconders of this important piece of legislation. In Canada there are a lot of challenges in agriculture and agrifood businesses in many regions of the country, but one of the things that's going really well is our wine industry.

When I was first elected in 1997, there weren't a lot of wineries in Nova Scotia. In fact, one of the pioneers of that industry is with us today. He's Hanspeter Stutz,who will be appearing in the next session. I'm delighted that tonight we're going to be entertaining so many parliamentarians and introducing them to great Nova Scotian wine.

There is growth in this industry, and the opportunities go beyond simply the wine industry. To be specific, they include the restaurant industry, the full hospitality industry, and beyond that. It's a significant opportunity.

I think it's great that we're moving toward one case on a personal basis, but why would it be only one case? Why not go for something more than that? In the nineties I lived in New York; I remember going to Napa Valley sometimes, and I wouldn't buy one case; I'd buy several, and ship them home. It was a great and ongoing part of my holiday. Is there the possibility to move to a greater liberalization in the future?

What are the barriers on the commercial side? Because the restaurant industry is important in terms of the development of our domestic wine industry, what should we be pushing for as next steps in terms of liberalizing the wine trade and reducing and eliminating interprovincial trade barriers?

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

I welcome the member's comments, both here at the committee and in the House. Clearly he's very much an authority on Nova Scotia wine and wine in general. I've appreciated his office's support in this regard.

On your first point about why it is limited to a particular amount, in the bill it says there will be a personal exemption for wine, but it will be subject to the quantities identified by the host province.

This would be an excellent reason for you to meet with the Premier of Nova Scotia to bring your concerns forward. Ultimately I believe that the people closest to the issue should have the most say. I'm in support of the bill in its current form because it recognizes that provincial jurisdiction.

What was your second question again?

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

On the commercial side, what are the barriers? The restaurant and hospitality industries are key to the development and promotion of Canadian wines. Tourists coming here from other countries will be spending their entire holidays eating in restaurants.

What are the barriers now to the sale of wine in restaurants? What should we be doing to address them?

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

I appreciate the question. I received a phone call from one of the hospitality associations. They are in full support of the bill because they see it as a step toward eventually opening the market for commercial use.

We started with personal exemption first of all to offer Canadian consumers a choice of the Nova Scotia wines, Ontario wines, and even Saskatchewan fruit berry wines they want. They're very supportive of this as being a general trend to open up many of these interprovincial barriers.

We need to gauge the level of economic activity, continue to make the case to the provinces that this is an area we'd like their input on, and continue to get industry to get behind it. Then maybe we'll see some further legislation.

I want to again thank you for seconding the bill and for your voice in the House of Commons on this important file.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

You have 30 seconds.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

On this issue, should we be sitting down with the responsible ministers in each province? This could be something on which we could actually move proactively in the federal government, instead of just waiting for the provinces to move. We could actually work with them to encourage movement on this issue. Should we be more proactive?

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

I believe that's an excellent idea. Any chance we have to move with our provincial counterparts when the federal government is moving out of the way to allow more economic activity and to allow more provincial say in it is a good thing for our country.

We have a marvellous country that is regionally different. The different products and different entrepreneurism we find are all world class. I hope this is a front we can continue to engage on, and I look forward to working on it.