Alberta government to review beer tax ruling

CALGARY — Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci says he’s disappointed a report on the province’s beer tax policy was leaked and he’ll be taking time to review the findings.

Ceci said Thursday that the government should have had almost a month to privately review the findings of the three-member Agreement on Internal Trade panel, which looked into whether Alberta’s policies to boost its craft beer industry violated trade rules.

He said the complainant, Artisan Ales Consulting, showed a lack of respect for the process by leaking the panel’s report when it came out.

“Given the leak by the complainant, in this case, we’ve been denied that opportunity to look at this in a fulsome way and correct any issues we found, if there were any, so we’re disappointed they decided to act unilaterally in that way and demonstrate bad faith,” said Ceci.

Artisan Ales co-owner Mike Tessier said releasing the report early doesn’t change the findings of the panel.

“I don’t care, the answer’s the answer.”

The panel, in a two-to-one decision, found the government’s policy of providing what amounts to beer tax rebates to Alberta small breweries discriminates against out-of-province beers sold in Alberta.

Ceci said he will be taking time to review the panel’s findings, but still believes the grant program meets trade agreements.

The Alberta government also faces a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of its beer policies, with the court case set to resume in September.

Ceci made his remarks at a Calgary farmers market, as he announced that craft beers and spirits will be allowed to be sold at approved markets across the province.

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