The British Columbia Wine Institute (BCWI) says it’s notified the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) that it will challenge the constitutionality of Alberta’s banning of B.C. wine.
It says it’s seeking an interim injunction against the ban because the B.C. wine industry has been unfairly targeted in a dispute that has nothing to do with its industry, and that B.C. wineries will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted.
Institute lawyers will be in court Monday morning.
In a release, BCWI president and CEO Miles Prodan said, “The BC Wine Institute regrets having to resort to legal action to protect our industry and the families that rely on it for their livelihoods. We need to end this prohibition of B.C. wines.”
“We’ve done a quick survey of some of our wineries here in the province,” said Prodan to Global News, “and we’ve been reported back by just a few of the total that there’s about $1 million in immediate damage, and that in a month’s time it could be as much as $4 million.”
Ninety-three of B.C.’s 276 wineries responded to the survey. The Institute added the ban could have been avoided if people were able to buy alcohol directly, and that the ban will impact B.C.’s tourism industry.
The organization said it believes that the banning of Canadian goods from being imported into another province because of where it’s from is unconstitutional.
“If a wine can be prohibited because of where it comes from, so can any other product from any other province, and that’s not what Canadian free trade is all about,” Prodan said.
It added that free interprovincial trade would have a positive economic impact across the country.
Statistics provided by the BCWI say 20 per cent of bottled and produced B.C. wine is sold in Alberta, and accounts for one quarter of the shelf space in Alberta liquor stores. They also said the total net value of B.C. wine sales to the province in 2017 totalled $70 million.
The wine ban was a retaliatory move towards B.C.’s NDP government, which has said it will prevent any increase in bitumen shipments from an expanded TransMountain pipeline.
It’s looking to carry out more studies pertaining to the effects of an oil spill, even though the federal government has already approved the project.
With files from Global News reporter Charmaine de Silva