Economy

BC government launches formal challenge to Alberta's wine ban

BC government launches formal challenge to Alberta's wine ban”

Alberta faces a maximum fine of $5 million if it is found to have violated Canadian trade rules.

Monday, B.C.'s industry indicated it was grateful for the challenge, but remains wary of the time such a dispute process might take, according to a statement from B.C. Wine Institute CEO Miles Prodan.

Under the CFTA dispute-resolution process, parties have 120 days to try to resolve their differences through consultation after which a independent arbitration panel is established to adjudicate the dispute.

"B.C.'s wine industry is an important contributor to our economy, creating good jobs and other economic benefits for people in B.C.", Ralston said.

"The government of British Columbia is taking direct aim at the jobs and economic security of hundreds of thousands of Canadians - including tens of thousands of British Columbians - by threatening to limit what can go inside a pipeline - which they don't have the authority to do", the statement said. Alberta's actions threaten the livelihood of the families that have worked so hard to build B.C.'s world-class wine industry.

The province announced this morning it has notified its eastern neighbour it is formally requesting consultations under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) concerning Alberta's actions to ban the sale of B.C. wine.

Alberta has shown little interest in talking with B.C. about trade.

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Alberta wants the $7.4-billion project completed to help get its landlocked oil resources to new offshore markets.

"What we're concerned about now is the opportunity to discuss this issue and to dialogue with the government of Alberta about the issues that are raised", Ralston said.

Notley has threatened to turn up the heat if B.C. does not reverse the government's proposal to ban increased bitumen shipments pending a spill safety review.

Notley has also ended talks on buying electricity from B.C., while B.C. announced over the weekend that it was appealing a National Energy Board decision that allowed pipeline builder Kinder Morgan Canada to bypass local regulations in the construction of its pipeline.

Since the Alberta wine sanctions, federal officials have been meeting with their B.C. counterparts seeking to navigate an end to the dispute, with nearly daily contact both at the political and staff level. "You just don't win, especially in an interprovincial trade war because we're all on the same team, more or less, at the end of the day", he said.

On Monday, British Columbia filed a formal complaint under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement against Alberta for its decision to block B.C. wine from Alberta shelves.

Premier Rachel Notley says a task force will advise Alberta on possible next steps in a trade spat with B.C. over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

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