Friday, 23 March, 2018

BC Wine Institute to seek injunction on Alberta's ban

Cargo ship lie at anchor in English Bay outside the Port of Vancouver Constitutional battles now brewing over wine boycott
Nellie Chapman | 23 February, 2018, 02:34

The dispute began after B.C. Premier John Horgan announced a possible limit on shipments of diluted bitumen from Alberta while it studies the environmental impact of a potential spill from the expansion of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline.

"I do want to be very clear, if it becomes clear that this action is in fact a part of a deliberate strategy to harass the pipeline and its investors with frivolous or unconstitutional legal challenges, we will act immediately".

Province by province is slightly different not surprisingly Albertans are gung-ho at 82 per cent support while in British Columbia only 42 per cent of those surveyed support the project.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced the ban on February 6, saying it was instructing the alcohol regulator to block about $70-million worth of wine imports from British Columbia in retaliation for proposed rules that would effectively prevent Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd.'s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The institute says it has notified the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission that it will challenge the constitutionality of the ban, imposed February 6.

While the pipeline dispute affects Alberta's oil industry, Albas said the wine ban is hurting small wineries in British Columbia. Alberta said B.C.makes about $70 million a year on sales of 17 million bottles of wine to Alberta.

"The reason for doing it is that there's a violation of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (by Alberta), an important agreement signed by all provinces and territories", Ralston said in a scrum with reporters at the Legislature.

The CFTA dispute resolution process also carries a stiffer ultimate penalty - a maximum $10 million penalty, versus the NewWest Partnership's $5 million in the event it is determined a party did violate the agreement. "This point has generated disproportionate and unlawful reactions from the government of Alberta".

That proposal led to a massive fight and trade war with neighbouring Alberta, where oil producers are desperate to send their barrels to the West Coast and reduce their dependence on the United States as an export market.

According to the text of the CFTA, it can take an additional month for an arbitration panel to be selected before a hearing even takes place. "Our patience will not last forever", Notley said last week.

Likewise, restaurants and liquor stores on the Alberta side that rely on selling B.C. wine will also be squeezed.