Court orders Alberta to hand $2.1M in combined restitution payments

In a major court ruling, the Alberta government has been ordered to pay approximately USD 2.1 million in compensation to two out-of-province breweries. Reportedly, Justice Gillian Marriott, The Hon. Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, Calgary, found that the beer markup of USD 1.25 a liter and rebate program for Alberta craft brewers launched by government in 2015 & altered in 2016 violated Section 121 of the Canadian constitution.

The judge has asked the Alberta Government to pay Great Western Brewing Firm of Saskatchewan a compensation of approximately USD 1.9 million, while Ontario-based Steam Whistle Brewing firm was entitled to be paid USD 163,964. She had further extended the injunctions permitting Great Western Brewing as well as Steam Whistle to continue with paying in accordance with old markups for 6 months till the Alberta administration change its regulations.

Michael Brennan, the CEO of Great Western Brewing, favored the court ruling and commented that the proceeds from compensation will be utilized for the firm’s business operations. Authentic sources cite that the court’s ruling is a major setback to Alberta province’s much-hyped program for expanding its craft brewing sector.

Earlier, in its decision on the 11th of this month, a bench constituting three judges ordered the provincial government to make changes in its Alberta Small Brewers Development Program (ASBD) within the coming six months.

The litigation against the court was filed by Artisan Ales Consulting, a firm headquartered in Calgary. Reportedly, the lawsuit stated that Alberta’s program negatively impacted its beer import business, unfairly raising the costs of beers brewed out of Alberta.

Joe Ceci, the Finance Minister, Alberta, currently in charge of the Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission, has announced that the provincial authorities will be revising ASBD in a manner that will support the business expansion of small craft brewers.