Confession time about my criminal past. Years ago when I spent a lot of time at a family cottage in northwestern Ontario, I dared to buy liquor there and transport it home to Winnipeg. Being a lad of Scottish heritage, why would I pay the Manitoba price for a quart of Johnnie Walker, if Ontario was foolish enough to sell it for $4.00 less?
How was I to know that I was breaking the law? The Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act was passed by the parliament of Canada in 1928 when much of the country was mired in prohibition. 85 years later, Stephen Harper is promising to repeal that draconian law. One can only hope that he will include a general amnesty for past offenders so we can all sleep more peacefully.
Harper’s promise is contained in that weird throne speech that began a new session of parliament this week. The government also promised to pass a law that would basically outlaw the federal deficit. Balanced budget laws became hugely popular in many Canadian provinces, including Manitoba and Saskatchewan a few years ago. Most provinces though have either scrapped the laws, or conveniently ignored them as tough economic times have made it more difficult to avoid deficits.
In Manitoba, the government was not allowed under the law to raise taxes without putting it on the ballot in a referendum. Premier Greg Selinger raised the provincial sales tax this year, and changed the law so a referendum is no longer needed.
The statute books in Canada are filled with federal and provincial laws that have rarely if ever been enforced. It looks very much as though Stephen Harper will soon be adding one more with his balanced budget bill.
But at least now I’ll be able to rest easy when I drive from Moosomin to Brandon with a bottle of hooch in the trunk.
I’m Roger Currie