B.C. premier vows province will respond to ‘unfair’ wine boycott
B.C. Premier John Horgan is calling on the Alberta government to abandon its plan to stop importing B.C. wine across the Rockies.
“I urge Alberta to step back from this threatening position,” B.C. Premier John Horgan said in a statement. “We stand with B.C. wine producers and will respond to the unfair trade actions announced today.”
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced the ban on Tuesday. The move comes following the British Columbia’s announcement last week that it was considering restricting the flow of bitumen to the west coast. That announcement could have a profound impact on the federally approved Trans Mountain pipeline twinning.
Notley estimated that about $70 million a year is paid to B.C. wineries from Alberta purchases.
“The wine industry is very important to B.C… I know a lot of Albertans who love B.C. wine, quite frankly, I’m one of them,” Notley said.
But B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said Alberta’s move to ban B.C. wine is “extremely inappropriate” and will “unfairly” hurt B.C. businesses. Popham said the B.C. government has not made a decision yet on next steps, but could impose similar penalties on Alberta’s products.
“Our wineries are feeling they are caught in the cross hairs. It’s unfair,” Popham said. “We bring a lot of Alberta beef into this province and I would rather not go down that route and I don’t know where we are going to go but one thing I know is we are going to fight.”
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Popham said British Columbia’s agricultural industry should not be affected by environmental discussions between the two provinces.
“Calling for a ban on a product to Alberta would be quite [devastating] for our producers. A lot of our product ends up in Alberta,” said Popham. “We are grappling with how we might deal with this. When Alberta sends a message like this it affects families on the ground, it affects farm families.”
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The ban is also not sitting well with Restaurants Canada. The industry organization said the Alberta government’s decision is “using Alberta consumers and B.C. businesses as pawns and dragging them into and pitting them against each other in a provincial trade war.
“As a country, we are trying to strike down domestic and international trade barriers and this decision moves us in the completely wrong direction,” Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada’s Western Canada vice-president, said.
Business community concerned about ongoing ‘war’
The business community is also concerned about what the next move may be in the ongoing dispute. B.C. Chamber of Commerce president Val Litwin says businesses in B.C. are worried about an ‘escalating trade scrimmage’. But Litwin says this could be resolved if the federal government stood firm on its approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline twinning.
“The missing piece is a strong and equivocal federal government that this project must and will proceed,” said Val Litwin. “The average business owner is feeling like collateral damage in a political war. We want to continue to do business. We don’t want to have this war.”
- With files from Kyle Benning, Global Okanagan and Global Edmonton
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