B.C. will not retaliate after Alberta wine boycott: premier
B.C.'s premier says he won't allow "retaliatory trade actions" like an Alberta boycott of B.C. wine to prevent a review of an already-approved pipeline expansion.
Horgan made the announcement at a news conference in Victoria Wednesday, the day after Alberta revealed its plan to block the sale of B.C. bottles.
"I have had discussions with the prime minister, I have had discussions with the premier of Alberta, and I have made it clear to both of them that the interests of British Columbia are my responsibility," he said.
"I take that very seriously, and I will be resolute in protecting the interests of this great province. And nor will I be distracted by the events that are taking place in other jurisdictions."
He said the province would not retaliate against the sanction, and shut down rumours of a possible boycott of Alberta beef.
Agriculture Minister Lana Popham was in Kelowna Tuesday when news of the booze ban broke. She said the ban could be devastating for producers in the region, and that farmers felt caught in the crossfire.
"Alberta's a province that should understand how important a strong agricultural base is for our economy," she said.
"This is going to hurt family farms in the Kelowna area, all across B.C."
The British Columbia Wine Institute said approximately 30 per cent of all wine sold in Alberta is from B.C. Alberta is considered its most important market outside of B.C.
BCWI president Miles Prodan said Tuesday the institute was shocked by the boycott: "Quite frankly, this is something we were expecting to come from Trump, not from the Alberta government."
But Horgan said he's setting his sights on other markets. He recently returned from a trade mission in Asia, where he said he was able to enjoy B.C. wine in several countries.
"We have numerous markets for our B.C. products and I'm anxious to pursue all of them," the premier told reporters.
Horgan said he wants to find a solution, but that he would not let it weaken his resolve.
Battle over bitumen
The battle began late last month, when the B.C. government proposed to restrict an increase in diluted bitumen shipments until it was confident parties involved were prepared to handle a spill.
The B.C. NDP plans to set up an independent advisory panel to further study the issue, a move Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said could scare off much-needed investors in the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion as her province claws its way out of recession.
Notley accused B.C. of breaking the rules, trying to change regulations already green-lit by the federal government.
She ceded that it was reasonable for B.C. to want to review spill response and the potential impact on the province's economy and environment, but said Horgan went too far but suggesting that one of the options could include a ban on what goes through an inter-provincial pipeline.
Notley referred to his actions as "unprovoked and unconstitutional."
Horgan denied that characterization, saying his intention to consult with B.C. residents about the consequences of a major spill is well within his jurisdiction.
And while Notley has suggested the B.C. government's attempt at hindering the expansion is illegal, Alberta's boycott of B.C. wine goes against a trade agreement between Canada's western provinces.
She said her province is prepared to handle any fines that come with the wine ban. In addition to corking the flow of west coast wine, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will also step up enforcement efforts against direct winery-to-consumer sales, she warned.
On Wednesday, the Alberta premier elaborated on her thoughts behind the ban, a plan that disappointed those in B.C.'s wine industry who bring in about $160 million a year from their neighbour to the east.
"It wasn't an easy decision. B.C. and Alberta are good friends, and I know that our decision will have an impact on some small businesses," Notley said in a video statement published on social media.
"But let's remember, when Alberta's economy is allowed to enjoy the benefits of the billions of dollars a year that a successful pipeline will bring to our province, more people will be able to eat in Alberta restaurants and buy B.C. wine."
Notley called B.C.'s campaign to limit the amount of bitumen exported from Alberta "wrong," and said it required a clear and direct response.
"You see, Alberta's oil sands support hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country, including in B.C. And every road, school or hospital in Canada owes something to Alberta's energy industry," she said.
'It's time for Ottawa to act.'
Notley claimed Alberta's climate action plan is the strongest in all of North America, and again called on the federal government to step up.
In an interview on CTV's Power Play Wednesday, she said she hoped the wine sanction would be enough to encourage action from the Trudeau Government. Notley wants the prime minister to send a clear message to both B.C. and potential investors that proposed revisions will be shut down.
"This is about the national economy. This is about the picture that we present as a nation to the rest of the world, as a place that is a stable and predictable destination for investment, and all the important jobs that those fundamentals ultimately support and create," Notley said.
She said the uncertainty hurts Alberta, hurts B.C. and ultimately hurts Canada as a whole.
"It's time for the federal government to step in."
Speaking to reporters ahead of a weekly Liberal caucus meeting Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is in talks with the premiers about the need to get the pipeline expansion built, but did not say whether he'd intervene in the trade war.
"We're continuing to discuss and engage with the B.C. government, with the Alberta government. We're making sure we come to the right place that's in the national interest for Canada," Trudeau said.
His environment minister later suggested that just because Trudeau hasn't waded in publicly, that doesn't mean things aren't happening outside of the public eye.
Further consequences to come?
Alberta has threatened B.C. with further consequences, including legal action and further sanctions, should the province fail to step down, but Notley refused to provide further details on what they might be.
"The point of rolling out a strategy is to introduce elements of the strategy at particular times, so, outlining all of that in advance kind of negates the point," she told CTV.
"Certainly we are thinking about other options, but what I will say is that no one really wants this to happen."
Kinder Morgan Canada asked the National Energy Board to intervene after the City of Burnaby refused to grant construction permits. The NEB overrode Burnaby's jurisdiction in December.
With files from The Canadian Press, and CTV Vancouver's Penny Daflos, Scott Roberts and Bhinder Sajan