Mr. Speaker, I am also happy to rise today in support of Bill C-311, an Act to amend the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act.
As a couple of my hon. colleagues have so elegantly stated, under the current legislation, if an individual wishes to purchase wine that is available only in a province other than the one in which he or she resides, the individual must make the purchase through a liquor board or commission. The changes to the IILA will change that and allow the importation of wine from a province by an individual.
This bill also strikes the right balance between ensuring that the province maintains jurisdiction over this and at the same time changing the federal law to allow the province more discretion.
The bill is a good idea. It is simple, but those are often the best ideas.
I had the great fortune of growing up in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. I was forced to leave in the 1980s. There was not a lot of work so I made my way out to beautiful Burnaby, British Columbia. I just had the opportunity to go back for my mother's birthday a couple of weeks ago and I did go down to the Annapolis Valley. I have been back a few times. The sun was out, it was a beautiful Victoria Day weekend and we had some beautiful wine from the Annapolis Valley region.
What a change there has been since the late 1980s until now and how the addition of vineyards to the Annapolis Valley has really changed and vastly improved the area and has done a lot for the local economy. It has brought tourists back to the region. When the wine is combined with lobster, apples and the produce there, it cannot be beat. I was really glad to see that.
Again, small changes like this to existing legislation can really go a long way to boosting that industry a bit more.
What I also noticed in Nova Scotia was the co-operation between vineyards. I thought that was a really good idea. They have come together and decided to produce this wine in all vineyards called l'Acadie, which is a great white wine. It is those kinds of co-operative actions between the vineyards, in association with changes to a law like this, that will help those vineyards and this industry grow in Canada.
I did not know this and was a little alarmed to hear that only 6% of the wine consumed in Canada was grown and aged here, which is something we should work to fix. With having wine experience on both coasts, there is a lot we can do and a lot to promote.
With respect to the other coast, after having grown up in Nova Scotia, and I liked the wines there, the wines in British Columbia are outstanding. There are 210 wineries and 864 vineyards from what I have been able to research. I am not just excited about the product, which I enjoy with my wife Jeanette, but I am also excited about the economic impacts to this industry.
Therefore, when I was reading the bill, and I am happy to support it, I was also thinking of this theory by Jane Jacobs, the great scholar. People know she talks about cities. She also talks about the idea of import replacement, which is a terrific idea. Initially, we import some technology or product, local people get to like it and they start developing it themselves and often improve it. However, what is more important for our economy in terms of wines is that the locally-produced product starts to replace what we used to import. If that goes really well, we start importing back to the place from which we used to buy product. This is a possibility for the Canadian wine industry over the next little while and it is changes like this that will help.
This is an industry that has to be nurtured. The French, Italian and South African wines are massive vineyards that could easily swamp our smaller vineyards in B.C., Nova Scotia and Ontario. We really have to be conscious of the fact that we want to help this industry grow along, and the bill does help that.
Something else my colleagues might want to know is that while teaching at Simon Fraser, I had a couple of colleagues who were looking at the genome technology in wines. This is under study in a lot of countries, and it is basically altering grapes. It is not done naturally. The genes in the grapes are manipulated and that is able to change the taste of wines, the speed of aging and those kinds of things.
Professors Michael Howlett and David Laycock had a very large grant from Genome Canada to study this. They just had a recent book out called Regulating Next Generation Agri-Food Biotechnologies by the Taylor & Francis Group.
We were reminded early on today this was an antiquated act that we were updating today, hopefully, if it goes through here and the next place, but we really have to be ready for the next generation of ideas about this. Therefore, I would suggest that at some point in the House or in an agricultural committee we could take a look at how genome technology affects this and other agricultural industries. It is important to get the policies right in these areas, to approach them from a neutral perspective and ask what is the best thing for Canada.
Again, coming back to this change, having been through the Annapolis Valley and in the vineyards in B.C., this is going to help, but not in a tremendous way though. That is why it is an appropriate place for a private member's bill. It is these types of industries on which we have to get a better handle.
To go back to the beginning of my 10 minutes here, I was talking about growing up in Nova Scotia. With the Acadians there was some tradition of growing wine, but it was not until we brought in experts from abroad that the wine industry in Nova Scotia began to take off, and it benefits all kinds of communities.
For example, in Nova Scotia now we have first nations involved in the wine industry. There is a very famous Okanagan vineyard Nk'Mip Cellars, which is growing by great leaps and bounds. This industry does show how often we look for traditional industries in order to supply economic growth and job development. However, sometimes it is the smaller kinds of industries that are on the edge that perhaps we have not thought of before, which would be areas of growth especially in areas that perhaps have had little economic development in the past.
The ability for personal transportation of wine across provincial borders is a good idea, but we may expand this as well. Again, maybe I can encourage my hon. colleague the next time he comes back with a private member's bill to talk perhaps about microbreweries. In British Columbia there are very famous microbreweries.
Not to belabour the Nova Scotian connection, but when I was a teenager there I used to babysit young kids. They moved out to British Columbia and started a great local brewery called Phillips Brewing Company. When I first moved to B.C. as well, I used to drive a truck for Shaftebury Brewing Company. These are the kinds of small industries that make a special product that people really enjoy. These are boutique products, but there is no reason why people in other provinces should not be able to enjoy them and be able to transfer them across provincial borders worry free.
If we think where the Canadian wine industry was 20 years ago, it was nowhere near 6% of the total of our wine consumption. It has grown to 6%, but I would encourage the government to encourage clustering and investing in clusters in regions where this growth is prevalent and perhaps could be nurtured a bit.