Canada’s Top Court Blocks Appeal Over Goalie Gloves’ Imports

  • Igloo Vikski sought to pay lower duties on imported gloves
  • Court sides with tribunal in defining equipment as a ‘mitt’

Hockey is serious business in Canada, to the point that it took the nation’s top court to decide a dispute over imported goalie gloves.

The off-ice fight began when Quebec-based sporting goods dealer Igloo Vikski Inc. challenged the Canada Border Services Agency’s decision to classify the hockey equipment as “gloves, mittens and mitts.” Igloo Vikski sought a refund, claiming they should be classified as “other pieces of plastics” -- which carry a lower duty.

The Supreme Court Thursday upheld a trade tribunal ruling supporting the border agency in a ruling  that also suggested everyone should just get back to playing hockey.

“The goaltender should strain to avoid being distracted by the question before the court in this appeal -- being whether, for customs tariff classification purposes, he or she blocks and catches the puck with a ‘glove, mitten or mitt,’ or with an ‘article of plastic,”’ Justice Russell Brown wrote on behalf of the majority.

The case brought together two views of Canada, one that it’s a hockey-mad nation and secondly that high taxes are a long-running tradition. While hockey remains Canada’s official winter sport, the government over the last decade has reduced customs duties and corporate taxes.

The gloves were imported from 2003 to 2005. The customs agency in an earlier proceeding sent gloves to a laboratory to reach an agreement that any Canadian school child would know, namely that “the goaltender blocker has padding material encased within the external surface of the glove consisting solely of plastics, while the goaltender catcher has padding materials encased within the external surface of the glove consisting of plastics and lesser amounts of textiles.”

Igloo-Vikski was purchased by Montreal-based Lanctot Ltee in 2007, and company officials didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment on the decision.

The case is Attorney General of Canada v. Igloo Vikski Inc., 36258, Supreme Court of Canada (Ottawa).

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