No clear victor in BC-Alberta pipeline PR war

No clear victor in BC-Alberta pipeline PR war

Alberta's Environment Minister won't be doing a normal British Columbia trip this summer, nor does she have any plans to speak with her counterpart in the B.C. government.

In early February, Alberta premier Rachel Notley announced that the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission would immediately stop the import of all wines from British Columbia.

About 20 per cent of wine produced and bottled in B.C.is sold in Alberta, amounting to sales of about $70 million past year.

The two provinces have traded shots this month over whether B.C. should be allowed to restrict the flow of Alberta's oil through the province to the Pacific coast.

"This is because the Prime Minister has remained aloof while we have the closest thing to a national unity crisis since the Quebec referendum", Albas said.

That's a similar line to the one being used by the B.C. Wine Institute.

Still, he said Notley's sudden announcement came as a surprise, particularly because his group has been working with Alberta in recent years to expand direct-to-consumer access for B.C. wineries.

Because of the wine ban, he said, "that friendship is being tested".

In a release, BCWI president and CEO Miles Prodan said, "The BC Wine Institute regrets having to resort to legal action to protect our industry and the families that rely on it for their livelihoods". "But free trade is critically important".

The issue has always been a thorn in the side of beer, wine and liquor producers Canada-wide, because provincial governments control what booze can be sold in their jurisdiction.

People across the country have taken to social media to pledge their own support, using hashtags like #WarOfTheRosès and #PinotNotPipelines alongside photos of B.C. wine. It's a similar story in Saskatchewan.

"We believe it is unconstitutional to prohibit the import of Canadian goods into another province based exclusively on where they come from. All Canadians should be concerned, because if wine can be prohibited based on its province of origin, so can any product from any other province", he said. The Alberta government views the project as key for developing global markets for its heavy oil beyond the United States, which now eats up more than 99 per cent of Canadian oil exports. "And it could put an end to the national climate plan".

"To investors, it makes us look like a risky bet".

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