MP Dan Albas, who has worked to remove barriers to the sale of B.C. wines in other provinces, is disappointed by the ban on the sale of British Columbia wines in Alberta.
“This kind of mean spirited action is disappointing,” he said.
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.
The move was made as a response to the British Columbia government’s position on the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
British Columbia has said it would restrict increased shipments of bitumen while it continues to study the effectiveness of spill response and cleanup.
The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will triple the transportation of oil from 300,000 to 900,000 barrels a day.
While the pipeline dispute affects Alberta’s oil industry, Albas said the wine ban is hurting small wineries in British Columbia.
There are 276 wineries and 923 grape growers in British Columbia. Only a few of the wineries are owned by large corporations.
The sale of British Columbia wines in Alberta is significant. Around 17 million bottles of B.C. wine, worth $70 million, is sold in Alberta each year.
During his time as Member of Parliament for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, Albas has worked to remove barriers to the sale of wine and other alcohol products between provinces.
In 2016, an interprovincial trade agreement was signed between Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec to allow the purchase of wine between the three provinces.
In 2014, an agreement was signed between British Columbia and Saskatchewan, lifting barriers to interprovincial trade on wine and craft spirits between those provinces.
British Columbia has other wine agreements in place with Manitoba and Nova Scotia.
Albas said Canada is one country and barriers to trade such as the Alberta ban on the sale of B.C. wine could have far-reaching effects.
“An escalating trade war is a huge issue,” he said. “There are people who are going to lose their jobs or their livelihoods.”
At the beginning of February, before the Alberta ban on wine, Notley suspended electricity purchase talks with B.C., also in response to the B.C. government’s response to the pipeline.
Albas said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to take action to resolve the dispute between Alberta and British Columbia.
“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.
He added that an agreement is in place to improve interprovincial trade.
Last year, on July 1, 2017, the Canada Free Trade Agreement took effect. This intergovernmental trade agreement was set up to reduce and eliminate barriers to trade between the provinces.
While this agreement can be used to resolve trade disputes such as the Alberta ban on B.C. wines, Albas said the resolution process would take 12 to 18 months and the maximum settlement would be $10 million.
This amount would not come close to recovering the losses wineries will experience while wine sales are banned in Alberta.