Mr. Speaker, in 2018, following the Liberal government's introduction of an escalator tax, meaning an automatic tax increase for imported beer, wines and spirits, Australia requested a review at the World Trade Organization for Canada's exemption for 100% Canadian wines. The WTO draft report is anticipated in April, with the final legally binding report this summer.
This could have a catastrophic effect on some 400 Canadian wineries, including 32 in my community of Kelowna—Lake Country, forcing them to bear the burden of tens of millions of dollars in new taxes per year, putting this important industry and 6,000 Canadian jobs at risk.
The Conservative members asked the government to engage with Australia to resolve the dispute prior to the WTO ruling. The response from the minister responsible stated, “Australia's position on the excise duty exemption has been unwavering and clear.” Basically, Australia drew a line in the sand, and the minister is saying, “What are you going to do?”
The government needs to take this seriously and come up with a plan for our wineries.