To protest what he believes to be an outdated, Prohibition-era law, radio host Terry David Mulligan “carried a wooden case containing nine bottles of wine and one bottle of Penticton beer across the Alberta-B.C. border at noon on Friday.” (See Radio Host Mulligan Protest Provincial Liquor Laws.) Despite planning his illegal conduct well in advance and notifying the liquor control boards of his intended actions, as well as even publicizing his scheme in several online publications, Mr. Mulligan was not arrested in the process of carrying the wine and beer. (See prior On Reserve entry Canada Fights Outdated Prohibition-Era Wine Law.) “Nor were any members of the RCMP or local liquor boards on hand to witness the well-known broadcaster’s act of civil disobedience.” (See Radio Host Mulligan Protest Provincial Liquor Laws.)
The purpose of Mr. Mulligan’s demonstration was to fulminate against an eighty-three-year-old, Prohibition-era law, a law he and many other Canadians feel to be outdated. The federal law makes it illegal to cross provincial borders while carrying alcohol. In order to receive out-of-province liquor and alcoholic beverages, a customer must order such from its local liquor control board. “Mulligan contends the practice, which often includes a stiff markup, is an attempt to keep consumers under the heel of the provincial boards.” (Id.) He asserts that if France had a similar regulation to that of Canada, there would be a revolution.
Sergeant Patrick Webb said that, despite being aware of Mr. Mulligan’s conduct, there was no plan to have RCMP waiting to arrest or charge Mr. Mulligan for his illegal conduct. Sergeant Webb stated that the RCMP is looking at potentially pressing charges, but prosecuting Mr. Mulligan does not seem to be within the public interest of Canadians. Webb added that, in his thirty years with the RCMP, he has not known of anyone to be be charged under the federal Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act.
Legally, what does this mean for Canada? It seems that even law enforcement agrees that the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act may be trivial or obsolete given the country’s current conditions. However, law enforcement is not the proper avenue for this law to be amended or repealed—Canadians should, instead, look to their legislators for appropriate legal changes. It is considerable, though, that Canada may see changes to this law if enough attention was brought to legislators with respect to Mr. Mulligan’s act and consideration is given to the public interest of Canada.