Alberta wine war intensifies with court challenge

Ivan Schwartz
February 24, 2018

However, Horgan said the test case is meant to sort out the constitutional questions of B.C.'s proposal and remove the suggestion of restricting bitumen shipments through B.C. out of the political realm.

If the reference question is more nebulous and an obvious attempt to drag this process out further in the hopes Kinder Morgan simply gives up and abandons its plans, then Alberta will not be happy and nearly certainly bring back a boycott of B.C. products.

Alberta has banned the import of British Columbia wines in response to what Alberta Premier Rachel Notley sees as moves to try to scuttle the Trans Mountain pipeline project. Constitutional experts generally agreed, although since B.C. hadn't actually announced a policy - just talked about it - there wasn't really anything to test in the courts.

We don't know what pressures Ottawa was putting on the province to drop the demand, or make it go away by sending it to the courts.

"In the face of this obvious transparent delay tactic by the B.C. government, I regret to see that Premier Notley has folded".

The fifth point proposed restricting increases in bitumen shipments until more spill studies are completed - a move that prompted Alberta's boycott on B.C. wine.

Meanwhile, the strongest opposition to the pipeline's expansion is found not in B.C., but Quebec.

"We used to be so close", read the main headline below a map of Canada, which featured B.C. floating away from the rest of the country.

The B.C. NDP government is against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Canada pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, although it has already been approved by the federal government.

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Prodan said the B.C. government's disputes resolution challenge could take months to resolve and the industry can't wait that long.

Speaking of back-room deals, Premier Rachel Notley did not inform, or seek prior discussion or approval from Albertans, regarding her committing of 50,000 bbls/d of Albertans', not hers, oil royalty volumes to the Keystone XL pipeline.

Prodan said the ban also highlights the importance of free interprovincial trade.

"Our patience will not last forever", Notley said last week.

"If it becomes clear that this action is, in fact, part of a deliberate strategy to harass the pipeline and its investors with frivolous or unconstitutional legal challenges, we will act immediately, and we will expect our federal partners to do the same", she said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to National Observer's Sandy Garossino on February 13, 2018 about his decision to approve Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion project.

Federal officials have been meeting with their B.C. counterparts and Notley has promised further retaliatory measures this week if there is no progress on resolving the impasse.

In the meantime, Township 7's Ocenas said it is too soon to tell how big a bite the boycott is taking out of their business, but is hopeful some of it will be offset by people rallying around the industry vowing to buy more B.C. wine.

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