Wine ban corked: Alta. suspends retaliatory measures against B.C.
Published Thursday, February 22, 2018 3:25PM PST
Last Updated Thursday, February 22, 2018 4:04PM PST
The fermenting trade war between Alberta and B.C. over Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansions has been put on ice – at least for now.
On Thursday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced her province is suspending all "retaliatory measures" against its West Coast neighbour, including the ban on B.C. wine imports.
The news followed shortly after B.C. Premier John Horgan revealed his government is seeking clarification on the legality of its pipeline opposition in the courts.
"Today's decision by B.C. is an important step forward; one small victory in a larger battle to break the land-lock and get full value for one of Canada's most important products," Notley said.
"I am confident that the court will not give B.C. rights it does not possess under our constitution."
Notley couldn't say exactly when the wine ban, which industry representatives claim has already cost B.C. wine producers more than $1 million, will be lifted.
She also warned that if she sees signs that B.C. is abusing the court process to "harass" Kinder Morgan, Alberta will be ready to strike back immediately.
"Alberta won't back down in this fight," she said. "We will prepare further retaliatory measures for use should the kind of thing we just saw the end of today reappear."
Less than an hour before Notley's press conference, Horgan revealed B.C. is asking the courts to confirm whether it has the right to protect its coastline by restricting the amount of diluted bitumen being shipped in the controversial Trans Mountain expansion.
"We believe it is our right to take appropriate measures to protect our environment, economy and our coast from the drastic consequence of a diluted bitumen spill," Horgan said. "And we are prepared to confirm that right in the courts."
The issue was first raised in January, when B.C. announced it would be holding public consultations on five potential pipeline-related regulations designed to spare the coast from disaster.
Horgan said the government will hold off on gathering feedback on the potential bitumen ban, but will move forward with consultations on the other four points, including rules around spill response times.