Alberta finance minister to review beer tax trade ruling after findings leaked

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. read more

UN refugee chief says increased intolerance threatens asylum principles

As representatives of some 190 NGOs wound up their annual consultations with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) at the UN Headquarters in Geneva, Mr. Guterres said: “The increased intolerance in today’s world is putting asylum principles at stake. It will be crucial to stem this tide and NGOs, as an operational partner as well as civil societies, can help us advocate for a more tolerant climate.”He added that mixed migration flows in which migrants and asylum-seekers arrive in Europe along with smugglers make access to asylum more difficult for genuine refugees. It was huge problem which could only be addressed with the collaboration of States, NGOs and other members of the international community, he said.”It is important that we work closely as strategic partners, in a very transparent climate,” Mr. Guterres said. “UNHCR simply does not have all the financial or physical means to implement its programmes. We have to coordinate and cooperate closely so NGOs can help us do what we cannot do alone.”More than 300 NGO representatives working with UNHCR around the world took part in the consultations which began on Tuesday. The once-a-year meeting allows NGOs to highlight issues to be incorporated in discussions during next week’s meeting of UNHCR’s governing body. read more