B.C. winemakers shackled by NDP MPs

Legislation to allow wine to be sold across provincial borders in Canada has been stalled in Parliament.

  • May. 30, 2012 7:00 p.m.

Westside-Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart has called on provincial NDP leader Adrian Dix to stand up for British Columbia and demand his federal NDP counterparts end their delay of Private Member’s Bill C-311 which wold make free trade in wine legal across Canada.

Yesterday in the House of Commons, NDP MPs Alex Atamenenko, Jenny Sims, Fin Donnelly and Kennedy Stewart, all from B.C., contributed to “running out the clock” on the legislation, thus delaying its passage.

“It’s just baffling B.C. MPs would delay a bill that would benefit winemakers and create jobs in this province,” said Stewart, owner of the Quails’ Gate Winery in West Kelowna. “It’s high time Adrian Dix and the B.C. NDP stand up for the province and demand their federal colleagues pass this bill.”

British Columbia is home to over 200 grape wineries and more than 700 vineyards. Bill C-311 removes federal barriers to the transportation of wine from one province to another, allows Canadians to buy wine from wineries in other provinces, and have it shipped to their homes.

The legislation to eliminate those barriers was originally introduced in Parliament by Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan, and has subsequently been taken on by Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas.

“Eliminating interprovincial trade barriers for wine helps small producers by allowing them to sell directly to consumers across Canada,” said Stewart. “B.C. wine producers deserve every opportunity to sell their products across the country so they can grow and create jobs.”

Last Friday, Premier Christy Clark reaffirmed her support for the bill at a “Free My Grapes” rally in Penticton.

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