Excerpreted Article was written by Nick Eagland | The Province
B.C. vintners see red after the Alberta government launched a trade war against B.C. wine in retaliation for this province’s pipeline resistance.
Tuesday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the agency of her government that is the provincial wholesaler of alcohol will stop buying B.C. wine.
The ban is Notley’s response to the B.C. government decision last week to try to restrict increases in bitumen shipments from Alberta until more studies are conducted on how spills of oilsands bitumen can be cleaned up.
Notley said Alberta imports about 7.2 million bottles of B.C. wine worth $70 million each year.
It is the latest blow in the fight between the two NDP governments over the $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which was approved in 2016 by the federal government. It would triple capacity on the 1,150-km line running from Edmonton to Burnaby.
“We will not let the government of B.C. hold Alberta’s and Canada’s economy hostage, and jeopardize the economic security of hundreds of thousands of working families across this province and across this country,” Notley told a news conference at the Alberta legislature.
To scrap the pipeline would cost the Alberta economy $1.5 billion a year, Notley said. She said her province is willing to risk $5 million in fines for violating the New West Partnership Trade Agreement among the western provinces by the trade action.
“The wine industry is very important to B.C. Not nearly as important as the energy industry is to Alberta and Canada, but important nonetheless,” said Notley.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announces that Alberta will boycott all wine from B.C. Larry Wong / PNG
“I’m also encouraging all Albertans: Next time you’re thinking about ordering a glass of wine, think of our energy workers. Think of your neighbours. Think of our community. Think about our province, and maybe choose some terrific Alberta craft beer instead.”
B.C. Premier John Horgan shot back Tuesday, warning Notley to back off. He said in a statement that his government has every right to consult British Columbians on measures meant to protect B.C. lands and waters from a potential spill of diluted bitumen.
“If Alberta disagrees, they can make that argument in the proper venue, in our court system,” Horgan said.
“Our consultation on proposed new regulations hasn’t even begun, but Alberta has seen fit to take measures to impact B.C. businesses. I urge Alberta to step back from this threatening position. We stand with B.C. wine producers and will respond to the unfair trade actions announced today.”
The new B.C. Opposition leader, Andrew Wilkinson, slammed both the Alberta government for its wine ban and the B.C. NDP government for provoking the move with pipeline actions that he said will likely lose in court.
“The wine sector is going to be the innocent victim of a petty dispute between two NDP governments,” the Liberal leader said.