Her Majesty the Queen v. Gerard Comeau
(New Brunswick) (Civil) (By Leave)
Constitutional law - Constitutional law - Interpretation - Conflict of laws - Interprovincial trade - Notice of Prosecution for having brought alcoholic beverages into New Brunswick from Quebec - Whether section 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867 is a free trade provision? - Whether s. 121 of the Constitution Act renders unconstitutional s. 134 of the Liquor Control Act, RSNB 1973, c. L-10, which along with s. 3 of the Importation of Intoxicating Liquor Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. I-3, establishes a federal-provincial regulatory scheme in respect of intoxicating liquor? - Constitution Act, 1867, s. 121 - Liquor Control Act, RSNB 1973, c. L-10, s. 134 - Importation of Intoxicating Liquor Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. I-3, s. 3.
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In October 2012, the respondent Mr. Comeau drove from his hometown Tracadie, in New Brunswick, to Pointe-à-la-Croix and the Listuguj First Nation Indian Reserve, in the province of Quebec. He went there to purchase alcoholic beverages. Mr. Comeau was, at the time, under police surveillance as part of an investigation into cross-border liquor transport. His vehicle was intercepted upon his return, in Campbellton, New Brunswick. Mr. Comeau was charged by way of Notice of Prosecution for “hav[ing] or keep[ing] liquor not purchased from the Corporation”, an offence under section 134(b) of the New Brunswick Liquor Control Act, RSNB 1973, c. L-10. The police also seized the alcoholic beverages he had purchased that day, a total of 354 bottles or cans of beer and three bottles of liquor. In his defense, Mr. Comeau claimed that section 134(b) of the Liquor Control Act was an unenforceable provincial law, of no force and effect, as it contravened section 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867.
The trial judge declared s. 134(b) of the Liquor Control Act unconstitutional and of no force and effect. He found that s. 134(b) constitutes a trade barrier which violates section 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867.
The Attorney General of New-Brunswick brought an application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal of New-Brunswick pursuant to s. 116(3) of the Provincial Offences Procedure Act, SNB 1987, c. P-22.1. This provision allows an appeal directly to the Court of Appeal on a ground of appeal that involves a question of law alone. The application for leave to appeal was dismissed (R. v Comeau, 2016 CanLII 73665 (NB CA)).
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