Federal government will intervene if needed on Trans Mountain: Carr

Gladys Abbott
February 11, 2018

"Trade politics routinely crush the 'little guys, ' and we are deeply concerned about the handful of B.C. farmers we proudly work with", Edmonton restaurant Clementine said in an Instagram post on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced her province was banning wine imports from B.C., effective immediately.

At an event to announce Ottawa's new streamlined approval process for major natural resources projects, Jim Carr said B.C.is free to engage in consultations as it sees fit.

Wait a year then take us to court?

She said the new system will help improve certainty to attract investments and prevent the polarization of sides and legal battles such as those now affecting the Trans Mountain pipeline project at the heart of the Alberta-B.C. battle.

"The optics of that are particularly negative for the Premier of Alberta, because it looks like bullying; the collateral damage to the wine industry, which is really in no way implicated in this dispute, anybody would agree is hurtful".

OPINION | Weaponizing wine: Notley's engineering a federal crisis in her battle with B.C.

Albertans spent $72 million on B.C. wine previous year, with nearly 95 per cent of all Canadian wine sold here coming from our western neighbour. But one could search either day's statements in vain for what that might entail in terms of either support or retaliation. "Lana Popham, the minister of agriculture, is reaching out to growers across the Okanagan. I have made it clear to both of them the interest of British Columbia are my responsibility, I take very seriously and I will be resolute in protecting the interest of this great province".

Whatever happens, the dispute offers Trudeau big risk and reward, said Tom Bateman, associate political science professor at New Brunswick's St. Thomas University. "We'll fight as hard as we can for our wineries". Alberta is essentially taking hostage independent wine producers in B.C. who are far from the political decision-making process.

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Horgan said Wednesday it is not in anyone's interests to fuel the spat between the two provinces.

Saskatchewan says it will not be joining Alberta in banning the import of British Columbia wines. "But that's not a sales strategy, so I'm hoping this turns around pretty quickly", he said.

"We are actively preparing measures to get Ottawa to step up and B.C.to back down", she said. "Particularly for smaller and newer wine producers who rely heavily on the Alberta market".

Horgan said the province is investigating whether the ban violates interprovincial trade agreements.

The week's exchanges on this issue also included a letter to Horgan from the pipeline operator, seeking a meeting and cautioning about the impact of the threatened regulations on the national economy.

"I hope that you will consider the severity and effect of the actions your minister has proposed and that you will accept my offer to meet with you to discuss these and any other matters relating to the operations of our company in B.C". Horgan, he said, "pushed the wine sector into the line of fire".

The $7.4-billion pipeline expansion project was approved by the federal government in 2016.

Meanwhile, senior federal and B.C. provincial officials were scheduled to meet in Vancouver on Thursday to discuss the issue.

The pipeline fight between Alberta and BC is out of hand, both are NDP governments and both are fighting for support from their respective provinces.

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