The B.C. government is formally challenging Alberta’s ban on B.C. wines through the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) dispute settlement process. The Alberta government announced two weeks ago an immediate halt on the import of B.C.’s wines into the province.
“B.C.’s wine industry is an important contributor to our economy, creating good jobs and other economic benefits for people in B.C.,” said B.C. Jobs, Trade and Technology Minister Bruce Ralston. “We’re standing by our wine producers and the communities that rely on this important industry by launching a formal trade dispute, and we are confident we will be successful.”
The B.C. government is launching the dispute because of concerns “Alberta’s actions threaten the livelihood” of families that work in the province’s wine industry. B.C. is arguing that banning wine shipments from another province is a breach of Alberta’s obligations under the CFTA.
WATCH: Rachel Notley announces Alberta will stop importing BC wine.
Last week, Premier John Horgan asked British Columbians to think about picking up a local wine while leaving international wines on the shelf while the dispute is ongoing. Horgan does not believe that the B.C. government is doing anything wrong by consulting with the public on pipelines cutting through the province.
“Our provincial jurisdiction certainly allows us to talk to our citizens, the people of B.C. on how we can protect the economy and the environment,” said Horgan.
Alberta premier Rachel Notley has vowed to escalate the ongoing dispute unless the B.C. government backs away from considering restricting the future flow of bitumen through the province. Those restrictions would cripple any chance of having the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion constructed between Alberta and B.C.’s coast in Burnaby.
“The Government of British Columbia is taking direct aim at the jobs and economic security of hundreds of thousands of Canadians – including tens of thousands of British Columbians – by threatening to limit what can go inside a pipeline- which they don’t have the authority to do,” said Alberta’s Minister of Economic Development and Trade Deron Bilous in a statement. “Our decision to boycott BC wine through Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission is a direct response to BC’s actions. It is a reasonable response to an unreasonable attack on the Canadian economy.”
The B.C. government has also proclaimed April as B.C. wine month. With that declaration, the government is making it easier for small and medium size B.C. producers to get their product into BC Liquor Stores.