In order to obtain (and renew) a licence to sell alcohol in British Columbia, the General Manager of the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch must be satisfied that the individual or individuals applying for the licence are suitable – meaning that they are “fit and proper”. To assist the General Manager (and his or her delegates) in making this determination the Liquor Control and Licensing Act provides that the General Manager may make inquiries and conduct investigations, including background investigations and criminal record checks, for the purpose of informing the exercise of this discretion.
This is an important concept for existing and pending licensees to understand if they (or their business partners, investors, friends and family) have a history of criminality or otherwise unlawful behaviour – even if that conduct occurred in other provinces or countries. Alcohol & Advocacy has written about these concepts before in other contexts, and those articles can be found here and here.
A very recent decision of Ontario’s Licence Appeal Tribunal (“LAT“) involved an analysis of these very concerns. Although Ontario’s legislation and processes are a little different than British Columbia’s, the LAT’s treatment of issues relating to past criminality, accountability, and transparency during the licence application process are in the writer’s view instructive.Continue reading
In Parts 1 & 2 of the reconsideration series, Alcohol & Advocacy observed that the delegates of the General Manager of the Liquor and Cannabis Licensing Branch who decide enforcement hearings and make reconsideration decisions are not truly independent – that is to say that as employees (or agents) of the Branch they lack, or give the appearance of lacking, true administrative detachment from the very body that investigated and chose to prosecute an alleged contravention of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act.
When Canadians think about “independent” decision makers, we often thing about judges who enjoy security of tenure (lifetime appointments), financial security (full time employment, benefits, etc.), and administrative independence (judges work out of courthouses, not government offices). With these hallmarks of judicial independence in place, persons appearing before the court can feel comfortable that the judge deciding their case is able to decide it on the merits, without interference or influence of any kind from any source, including another branch of government. Importantly judges are also required to appear independent.Continue reading
In Part 1 of this three-part series on the reconsideration process, Alcohol & Advocacy explained the mechanics of the reconsideration process. Now we delve a little deeper.
Six years ago Parliamentary Secretary John Yap submitted his Final Report on liquor law and policy review to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. His report made 73 recommendations calling for “substantive reforms” to modernize British Columbia’s liquor laws, distilled from his consultations with members of the public and industry stakeholders, albeit limited by his terms of reference. The report in fall can be read here.Continue reading
British Columbia’s “new” Liquor Control and Licensing Act, which came into effect January, 2017 introduced a new internal review process for licensees on the receiving end of enforcement orders. This process, called “reconsideration” allows a liquor licensee or permittee to apply to have the decision made against them reconsidered if it meets one of the three prescribed grounds:
The grounds listed above are the only basis that a decision may be reconsidered.
Over the course of three articles Alcohol & Advocacy will explore the mechanics of this new procedure.Continue reading