Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says the province will stop importing wine from B.C., until the province’s NDP government ends its efforts to place restrictions on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
It’s the latest move in a growing dispute that would carry more Alberta oil sands bitumen to the B.C. coast.
B.C. has said it will restrict increased shipments of bitumen while it further studies the effectiveness of spill response and cleanup, as part of phase two in its oil spill response plan. The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will triple transportation of oil from 300,000 barrels a day to 900,000.
In an announcement Tuesday, Notley said Alberta currently imports about 17 million bottles of wine worth $70 million annually from B.C. wineries.
She also said the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission will step up enforcement of sales from B.C. directly to consumers in her province.
In a series of tweets, Notley claimed Albertans didn’t want or invite this fight.
“… We will not let the Government of BC hold Alberta’s and Canada’s economy hostage and jeopardize the economic security of hundreds of thousands of working families,” she said.
Last week, Notley said Alberta was ending any further talks on a BC Hydo agreement with B.C. that’s valued at an estimated $500 million per year.
Don’t use consumers as pawns: Restaurant Canada
Since the contentious announcement by B.C.’s environment minister George Heyman last week, debate has been sparked outside the political arena.
Last week, a Fort McMurray restaurant owner decided to nix B.C. wines off the wine list at her Italian restaurant, calling on other Alberta establishments to do the same.
But Restaurant Canada is calling out Notley, claiming the decision will punish small businesses and consumers.
“It 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,” the organization said in a news release, calling the decision reckless.
According to the British Columbia Wine Institute, Alberta makes up 11 per cent of the BC VQA market.
“As a country, we are trying to strike down domestic and international trade barriers and this decision moves us in the completely wrong direction,” said Mark von Schellwitz, vice president for the company’s western Canada branch.
Black Press Media has put a call into the wine institute for comment.
More to come.