There is one small holdout in Southern Alberta where prohibition of liquor is still in effect. Consumption isn't prohibited, but the sale of liquor is. There was even a recent plebiscite where the locals voted to maintain prohibition, so the Town cannot apply for a license, and no one can sell booze inside the prohibited area. Prohibition is legislated at the Provincial level. The Minister has to raise prohibition before any municipalities without a license can hold a plebiscite to get a license, but the Minister won't raise prohibition unless there is support from the community.

It's illegal to sell liquor inside the prohibited area, but is it illegal to to deliver liquor to a prohibited area? There is nothing in the Town bylaws that specifically address this (yet), but prohibition isn't at the local level, it's at the provincial level. If a delivery service were to warehouse their inventory outside of the prohibited area, and transact over the phone using credit cards, could they still deliver liquor to customers inside the prohibited area?

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    Back in the day it was even illegal to accept an order for alcohol to be delivered in another province, let alone deliver upon it. The point is that the answer to your question would require analysis of the specific law as applied to the specific circumstances. That is what lawyers do. For instance, does "sale" include "offering to sell"? Do the relevant case reports support one interpretation versus another? If you can cite us the exact statute or ordinance, that might be a starting point. – Upnorth Sep 8 '17 at 19:10

The answer is quite direct. Leniency. See Rewis v. United States, 401 U.S. 808, 812, (1971)("[A]mbiguity concerning the ambit of criminal statutes should be resolved in favor of lenity.")Adamo Wrecking Co. v. United States, 434 U.S. 275, 284, (1978) ("[W]here there is ambiguity in a criminal statute, doubts are resolved in favor of the defendant.");

If the question was not prior addressed by the law, doubt in statutory interpretation is resolved in the favor of the accused. You could not have possibly known, that it was illegal. Further resent Decision by the Supreme Court South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc., supports your position. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/21/us/politics/supreme-court-sales-taxes-internet-merchants.html

The sale happened in a different county. That's why you paid that county's taxes.

  • That assumes there is some ambiguity in the statute. It is probable that there is no such ambiguity (statuary draughtsmen are paid to avoid such loopholes). – Martin Bonner Jan 14 at 15:54
  • The question is about Canadian law, so US Supreme Court decisions aren't relevant...? – Nate Eldredge Jan 14 at 16:30
  • In this case, the 'accused' was attempting to establish a delivery service outside the prohibition area with the stated intention of making deliveries into the prohibition area. They were attempting to circumnavigate prohibition, and they weren't even being candid about it. – ShemSeger Jan 14 at 17:00
  • In addition to the US aspect making this less relevant, the cited decision is about criminal law. In Canada, criminal law is exclusively the responsibility of the federal government. Since OP states prohibition is legislated at the provincial level, this is presumably a civil and not criminal statute. – DPenner1 Jan 14 at 19:20
  • Would vagueness doctrine still apply? Irrespective of civil/criminal label. Canadian and American law has the same roots English common law. The same due process principles should apply. – Ivan Vetcher Jan 16 at 13:23

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