Okanagan-Coquihalla member of Parliament Dan Albas says his first-ever bill will open up sales opportunities for wineries in the riding and throughout Canada.
Bill C-311, a private member's bill, will add an exception to the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act to allow individuals to import wine from one province to another for personal consumption.
Albas said Monday that the bill will face its final House of Commons vote today before it moves on to the Senate. Bill C-311 went through its third reading May 29.
"We're moving at greased-lightning speed."
The bill has enjoyed unanimous support in Parliament so far and will hopefully pass in time for the 2012 tourist season, he says.
In its current form, the act forbids individuals from bringing any type of liquor, including wine and beer, into another province. Only the liquor control boards of each province and certain licensed bodies, such as distilleries, are allowed to import alcohol.
That part of the act dates back to the anti-liquor laws of the 1920s.
"We're ending a 1928 Prohibition law that everyone knows is ridiculous and doesn't serve us anymore," says Albas.
He says adding an exception for private consumers will allow out-of-province tourists to buy wine on visits to wineries, popular in the Okanagan, and encourage more sales.
Touring wineries and buying wine are not the only way those visitors would contribute to the economy, Albas adds.
"They're also doing rounds of golf. They're also staying at our hotels."
Transport giant Federal Express Canada has backed the bill as well, recognizing the economic benefits it could potentially reap, says Albas.
Bill C-311 does not require customers to physically buy wine in one province, such as British Columbia, and bring it to another, like Alberta, themselves. The bill also allows consumers to have wine brought from another province.
This creates numerous possibilities for selling wine out-of-province, for example, online and telephone ordering, says Albas.
"There's a lot of spinoffs for it."
Albas says that local feedback he received at all-candidates meetings during last year's federal election prompted the bill.
He says that both the B.C. Liberals and New Democrats have given their support for Bill C-311, and the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch is the only provincial liquor regulator that has not expressed opposition to the bill.
"I would say the whole province of B.C. is on board."
Other parts of Canada, especially ones with winemaking regions like Ontario and Quebec, have backed the bill as well, says Albas.
He stresses that provinces will still be free to regulate the sale and import of liquor as they see fit. The distribution of liquor is a provincial responsibility.
"They want to move away from the Ottawa one-size-fits-all policies."
In addition, fewer bureaucratic hurdles and the potential for a larger market will encourage more investment in the winemaking industry, says Albas.
Albas says provincial liquor control boards have expressed concerns about how Bill C-311 could affect their bottom line. He suggests that the opportunities the legislation creates are greater than any loss in revenue for liquor regulators.
Small wineries in particular could greatly expand their market, he says.
"They just don't have enough production to sell through a liquor control board."