OPINION: Wine may start flowing, but what about taxes?
Anyone who thought Dan Albas’ private member’s bill was going to open the floodgates to cheap cross-border shopping for wine should think again. When Albas’s Bill C-311 is finally passed, the provinces will experience an immediate shortfall in revenue.
Indeed, John Skinner, the owner of Painted Rock Winery in Penticton is already complaining that provincial cabinet minister Rich Coleman has announced changes to B.C.’s alcohol exemption limits which “do nothing to support the intended purpose of federal Bill C-311.”
Well, what else did he expect?
Let’s face it, it’s time to drastically reduce, or in some cases eliminate the huge “sin” taxes Canadians are forced to pay on things like liquor, fuel and cigarettes. And it’s a bald-faced lie that such things are taxed so as to discourage us from consuming them.
Provincial and federal bureaucrats know full-well that the exorbitant taxation of liquor, fuel and cigarettes generates lucrative and reliable revenue streams without which governments would go broke. So, surely anyone can see that that the provinces aren’t about to give up any of their revenue streams just because of some rookie MP’s private member’s bill.
And how long do you think it will be before other liquor vendors figure out how to use Bill C-311 to avoid billing their customers for provincial taxes?
Well, this is precisely what Winnipeg wine and beer columnist Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson predicts in “Beer to order?” No wonder provincial ministers like Coleman are already gearing up to severely restrict how much booze they’ll allow residents to import after Albas’s legislation becomes law.
It could be that Mr. Albas agrees with the majority of Canadians that “sin” taxes should be reduced or eliminated altogether. And for all we know his next private member’s bill will address the problems his current bill is giving rise to!
But, if this was the case, why didn’t he address the issue of provincial tax revenue before tabling a bill that threatens it? Didn’t he anticipate that the provinces were going to take a reactionary stance?