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NDP’s craft brewery grant announcement slammed by Alberta opposition

Click to play video: 'Alberta helps craft breweries attract tourists' Alberta helps craft breweries attract tourists
WATCH ABOVE: Alberta's growing craft beer industry has been given some more help from the province in the form of a $60,000 grant. Fletcher Kent has reaction – Oct 25, 2017

At least one member of the United Conservative Party was not impressed with the Alberta NDP calling a news conference to announce a $60,000 craft brewery grant.

“It’s an indication of what trouble the government is in,” MLA Ric McIver said.

“They’re calling a media conference because they spent $60,000 to put up a new website? Well, good.”

READ MORE: Panel finds Alberta NDP’s beer tax contravenes Canadian internal trade rules 

On Wednesday, the province held a news conference on the grant for the Alberta Small Brewers Association (ASBA).

The grant is meant to help the ASBA “develop the province’s local beer brand to establish craft brewing as a must-visit experience for beer fans and brewers from around the world,” the province said in a news release.

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McIver said the NDP is using the event to draw attention away from policy missteps.

READ MORE: Canadian breweries take on Alberta government’s beer tax 

“On the beer file, in fairness, they’ve made it easier for small breweries to start — but only with government support — but at the same time, they’ve made it harder — almost impossible — for those breweries to grow past a certain point because of the policy.

“The half that they got right, they’re bragging about because they don’t have anything else to brag about because they got so many policies wrong along the way,” McIver said.

He says this issue should call attention to a broader one: that Alberta must get better at trading. McIver says Alberta is a producer and producers more in the energy, agriculture, tourism and forestry sectors than Albertans can consume.

“They’re making it nearly impossible for Alberta-based breweries to export their beer to other provinces or other jurisdictions.”

READ MORE: Great Western Brewing expects ‘substantial’ hit on sales after Alberta beer markup

However, some breweries are just grateful for the boost.

“This investment will help us better tell our story to more people,” the ASBA’s Terry Rock said.

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“Anything that’s going to… get that Alberta beer brand out there to the world is amazing, that’s awesome,” added Ben Leon with The Dandy Brewing Company. “At the end of the day, craft beer is such a small part of the market and Alberta craft beer is a small part of that, and we just want to grow it all together.”

Alberta’s minister of culture and tourism says the industry adds to the province’s culinary tourism.

“The Alberta beer grant will help diversify our economy and create good-paying jobs for Albertans by supporting small businesses, tourism, manufacturing and agriculture sectors,” Ricardo Miranda said. “Now, we have the opportunity to truly show people what our own craft brewing industry, and our brews, are made of.”

There are more than 65 brewing licence holders in Alberta. Since July 2016, Alberta’s craft brewing industry has grown by 24 new breweries.

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