Alberta has threatened to stop importing wine from British Columbia as a result of the provinces' ongoing feud over Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion.

Premier Rachel Notley made the announcement Tuesday, following news that its neighbour to the west will restrict increased shipments of bitumen while it further studies the effectiveness of spill response and cleanup.

The Trans Mountain expansion is a controversial pipeline proposal of the Texas-based Kinder Morgan, that upon completion, will triple the capacity of an existing system to ship up to 890,000 barrels of oil per day from the oilsands to Burnaby, B.C.

Notley says Alberta currently imports about 17 million bottles of wine worth $70 million annually from B.C. wineries. According to the BC Wine Institute, 30 per cent of all wine sold in Alberta is from B.C., with a retail value of more than $160 million.

Alberta is the most important market for B.C. wine after B.C. itself, says the institute, and a recent poll conducted by the Canada Vintners’ Association indicates that 85 per cent of Albertans support interprovincial direct-to-customer wine shipping.

'They can't attack our industry'

"This is one good step to waking B.C. up to the fact that they can't attack our industry without a response from us," Notley said Tuesday following a meeting with her cabinet. "I honestly wish it did not have to be this way. We don't take this lightly. Albertans didn't want or invite this fight."

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will step up enforcement of direct sales from B.C. wineries to consumers in her province, she added.

"I'm also encouraging all Albertans next time you're thinking about ordering a glass of wine, think of our energy workers. Think of your neighbours. Think of our community. Think of our province, and maybe choose some terrific Alberta craft beer instead."

Last week, Notley said Alberta was suspending further talks on power purchase agreements with B.C. worth up to $500 million annual to that province's coffers. She has called B.C.'s attempt to hinder the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion an unconstitutional attempt to get around federal approval of the project.

Kinder Morgan, Trans Mountain expansion, protest, demonstration, Burnaby

Protesters denounce the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion project during a visit from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Burnaby, B.C. on June 16, 2016. File photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey

British Columbia wineries respond

Following Tuesday's announcement, the BC Wine Institute released a statement expressing shock and disappointment in Notley's maneuver.

"We are shocked that the Alberta premier and government are aggressively boycotting B.C. wineries over a yet-to-be-determined British Columbia government policy in a different sector," wrote president and CEO Miles Prodan.

"The B.C. wine industry has worked hard to build a positive relationship and partnership with Alberta, particularly in the wine, culinary and tourism sectors, including having collaborated on multiple campaigns directly with the AGLC (Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission)."

Prodan said he was "disappointed" that a political decision is threatening the success of small businesses across both provinces and vowed that the institute will continue its mission to expand its sales for more than 275 B.C. grape wineries.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce also chimed in on feud between the provinces, calling on the federal government to take immediate action to resolve the dispute. In a press statement, it asked Ottawa to engage directly with B.C. to ensure that a "fair and scientifically-sound" decision on the Trans Mountain pipeline is carried out.

“The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is deeply concerned about the negative impact an interprovincial trade war would have on the economies of Alberta, British Columbia and, ultimately, Canada. The announced escalation of retaliatory trade measures will leave businesses of all sizes, their owners and their employees caught in the crossfire," it said.

“Boycotts between businesses in two provinces will not resolve an issue that is ultimately our federal government’s responsibility."

Likewise, the Toronto-based Consumer Choice Center condemned what it characterized as a "trade war" between the two provinces. North American affairs manager David Clement said in a press statement that Canadian consumers should not be "political pawns" in "disputes that have nothing to do with them."

"Sparking a trade war within Canada will only hurt consumers and producers in both provinces, and come at a significant cost for Canadians who don't want their favourite drinks to be used as pawns in political debates," he said. "That being said, plans for the pipeline have proven to be safe and responsible, and B.C. should no longer delay the project that so many Canadians are counting on."

As a result of construction and permitting delays in B.C., completion of the Trans Mountain expansion — approved in November 2016 by the federal government — could be delayed until December 2020.

— with files from The Canadian Press

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 10:30 a.m. to include comments from the BC Wine Institute, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Consumer Choice Center.

Comments

Disappointing that the premier of Alberta has no respect for the citizens and industries of British Columbia; no concern for the impacts of climate change and oil spills; and no recognition that BC is likely also one of Alberta's biggest customers for tourism, education, and industry. While urging Albertans to pick up a local craft beer over a BC wine, does she have no recognition that BC citizens may just as well dump Alberta's products and services? There is not a one-way flow of goods and services, and as a citizen of BC, I feel moved to increase my consumption of BC wines to support local industry, and reduce my travel to Alberta, as well as discouraging my children from considering Alberta as a destination for higher education - not as a tit for tat instinct, but because I find this pigheaded ignorance regarding climate change and the need for Canadians and global citizens to expedite a change to a survivable economic path, shocking and disturbing. If this kind of ignorance is what prevails in Alberta, I don't have much desire to be there.

Everyone recognizes Notley would like to be re-elected, and is running against an even bigger wilful ignoramus on climate change next election, but one would hope that she would have the conscience and the guts to talk honestly to Albertans about the gigantic threat that their children and grandchildren also face, if we continue to pretend that expanded extraction of fossil fuels is tenable for this planet. Time to stop putting selfish concerns for wealth ahead of planetary survival.

Great points. Being childish in their economic school yard as the Earth continues to become untenable for so many is what addiction looks like.

Sustainable energy sources should be what is supported. Including on BC's side of the border.

Well argued. And you can bet many Albertan's agree with you. The stranglehold Oil and Gas has had on our province for over 40 years is beginning to look like the chief reason for many unreasonable moves made in our province.

The current NDP government has done much to change how our resources are allocated. It is moving on a carbon tax, on renewable energy projects that insist on indigenous inclusion, as well as on a liveable minimum wage and labour laws in line with other parts of Canada. We've come out of the downturn without resorting to the public service sector austerity moves that the neo-cons favour, and our economy is growing.

But in the case of the tarsands, and bitumen production, our current government appears to be captured by an industry that has to deny climate change...while putting out whoppers like 0 emission in situ mining, and floating bitumen. It's embarassing, if you are actually an Albertan with some intellectual semblance of an 'advantage', but the facts are: our right wing lies and spins on a daily basis. Jason Kenny believes in 'clean coal' for Jehovah's sake! And he's promising, in the face of federal jurisdiction that he will kill the carbon tax if elected.

Many Albertans believe the Friends of Science...a denialist bunch still active in our province. So you are going to have to insist on your government doing what is best for your province, in the full understanding that addiction is a hard thing to kick. And when it comes to dirty unconventional oil, many Albertan's are addicted.

Many...but not all.

On this one i side with BC. There is nothing more serious than one spill on the BC Coast to cause irréparable damage to the environment. Also there is still oil flowing Right now through the province of BC. It's not like BC shut off the flow which means there are still a lot of jobs in Alberta with the existent pipeline and statue quo. Also with the world trying to get off fossil fuel Alberta should be looking at alternatives Industries. The kinder Morgan pipeline is redundant as far as I am concerned.

The petulant posturing by Premier Notley regarding BC's decision to look at the long term costs to the environment of the under-regulated Kinder Morgan pipeline, shows a total lack of statesmanship on her part, and brings in to question whether her government is still captive to the oil and gas mafia that has ruined Alberta. We have $28 billion in underfunded orphan and abandoned wells in Alberta which it looks like the taxpayers will be on the hook for. Why does she stand up for oil? Where is the diversity she promised Albertans. The government has given token funding to renewable energy, while continuing to subsidize oil and gas with low royalty rates and low corporate taxes. Sounds more like more of the same Tory grovelling to industry. Wait till BC stops sending fruits and vegetables to Alberta. We might have to start a war!! And as usual, the main stream media beats the drums for the corporate gangsters.

"That being said, plans for the pipeline have proven to be safe and responsible, ...” The plans may be safe, but what flows through the pipeline will not be. Just to give one example, consider the planned storage tanks on the south slope of Burnaby Mountain, sandwiched between a major university and some residential areas. A major fire there will cut off the only escape road from the university, trapping twenty to thirty thousand people on the mountain. They will be told to shelter indoors - for several days. Some of us will take to the trails down the mountain, knowing that such fires can not be extnguished and are left to burn out. Those who do not leave will be breathing the toxic mix of dilbit gases, including the carcinogenic benzene.

Andrew Petter, the President of SFU, has stated that the risk is unacceptable. There are three professional reports saying this should not be built; one by the deputy chief of the Burnaby fire department, one by Ivan Vince, a UK expert, and the third hired by an environmental consulting firm hired by Andrew Petter.

And then we know from the security people that even the existing tanks are a terrorist target. The plan is to triple the amount of oil or duluted bitumen stored. Watch Bob Bossin’s video ‘Only one bear in a hundred bites, but they don’t come in order’, to see what oil storage tank fires look like. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=tOyceZiLF-Y

We've seen the video, and we more than a little appalled. Had not idea they were storing bitumen in residential areas, so close to a major university. Had not idea that the pipeline plans to triple that storage site if it goes through.

How I wish there still existed MSM capable of covering this project fully. Too many people still know next to nothing about bitumen...proponents would not be now trying to float the lie that bitumen floats...were the extent of citizen ignorance not so great.

Burnaby citizens and Simon Fraser students should take to Facebook and Twitter to create a Me Too moment for Global Fossil Fool giants.

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