Kelowna Chamber of Commerce president Tom Dyas. — Image credit: Facebook

Kelowna chamber calls for cooler heads in Alberta-B.C. battle

Tom Dyas says current rhetoric by premiers may be good politics but people are being hurt

The president of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce is publicly calling on the premiers of Alberta and B.C. to stop what it calls the “rhetoric” on inter-provincial trade and instead find ways to enhance the economies of both provinces.

Tom Dyas said Wednesday the current situation with two B.C.’s John Horgan and Alberta’s Rachel Notley trading threats in the media, along with what appears to be very little involvement from the federal government, threatens to cause major damage to the local economy.

Dyas said it’s harming small businesses and impacting thousands of families who rely on inter-provincial trade to make ends meet.

“Nobody wins when there is a boycott and the political uncertainty it creates will threaten much needed investment in both provinces,” said Dyas in a news release. “The ban on B.C. wine imports needs to stop now and both provincial leaders need to cool off before things escalate to include other products or sectors.

On Tuesday Notley said the province of Alberta’s liquor distribution branch will stop importing B.C. wine in retaliation for Horgan trying to stop or delay the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline from Northern Alberta to Vancouver that carries bitumen.

“We have enough to be concerned with in our ongoing trade issues with the U.S.” said Dyas.“We don’t need to be fighting among ourselves as Canadians.”

He said many small businesses in the Central Okanagan are now the “collateral damage” in a political fight between two premiers.

“We need leadership that is more focused on solving problems rather than getting media sound bites that do nothing but appease their political supporters.”

Boycotts between businesses in both provinces will not resolve an issue that is ultimately the federal government’s responsibility said the chamber president. And that is why the Kelowna chamber and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce are both calling on the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberal government to step in and “stand up for the regulatory process that is at the heart of this dispute.”

It’s an echo of the public position local Conservative MP Dan Albas has taken on the trade dispute between Alberta and B.C.

In what appears to be a shot at Horgan, Dyas said Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project went through a rigorous federal review before it was approved, and “while dismissing the result of that process as if it didn’t happen may be good politics, it actually threatens to create global uncertainty about the faith investors can have in Canada’s regulatory processes.”

He says leadership from the Trudeau, who has said publicly the pipeline project will go ahead, would go a long way in cooling this dispute.

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