Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola MP Dan Albas (left) with hands Harry McWatters, one of the pioneers of the Okanagan wine industry.—Image: Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Albas: B.C.-Alberta trade war needs to be diffused

MP says federal government must proceed with pipe and stop B.C. from interfering

By Dan Albas

As of today we have a trade war brewing between duelling NDP provincial governments in B.C. and Alberta.

Make no mistake this provincial trade dispute will have economic repercussions for our region if it is not quickly resolved.

As one example, within hours of the announcement from Alberta Premier Rachel Notley targeting B.C. wine, I heard from one small family run winery owner who now faces the challenge of what happens with the 6,000 cases of wine ordered in Alberta. Mortgages, payroll, taxes and utilities all must be paid for this winery to survive.

There are well over one hundred wineries that do business within the Province of Alberta and many of those wineries are located right here in the Okanagan as part of the roughly $70 million Alberta wine market.

Why is this happening?

As many will know, despite the fact that energy projects such as pipelines are entirely under federal jurisdiction, B.C. NDP Premier John Horgan announced efforts to attempt to block or otherwise delay the federally approved Trans Mountain pipeline project. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to insist this project is in Canada’s national interest and must move forward.

For the record, I fully support the prime minister’s decision on this. As I have previously stated, the Trans Mountain approval is subject to 157 binding conditions that are intended to address concerns ranging from First Nations, environment, project engineering as well as safety and emergency response.

The value of this project is just under $7-billion and will create 15,000 new jobs during construction. This pipeline will also generate $4.5 billion in federal and provincial government revenues. It should also be noted that this project replaces the existing Trans Mountain pipeline system between Edmonton, AB, and Burnaby, B.C. This existing pipeline is now over 50 years old.

Where I fault the prime minister, aside from continually voicing strong support for the Trans Mountain pipeline project, he has provided no further explanation on what actions his Government is prepared to invoke in order to see the pipeline project is constructed without political interference from the BC NDP Government.

In the absence of this firm directive from the prime minister, the Alberta NDP government is now taking actions it believes are necessary to defend both the interests of Alberta and the national interest of Canada, as voiced by the prime minister.

Innocent small family run B.C. wineries will now face very serious economic circumstances beyond their control and that is entirely unacceptable.

If the Supreme Court of Canada rules in favour in the Comeau case and ensures interprovincial trade of Canadian products is a constitutional right, this situation could be very different.

However, the motion I tabled in Ottawa to expedite the Comeau case, supported by the NDP and Green Party, was voted down by the Liberals.

What should happen?

We know that when Quebec-based Bombardier was threatened in a trade dispute Prime Minister Trudeau cancelled an aircraft order with Boeing and released future military procurement policy that factors in Canada’s economic interests.

In other words, the prime minister stood up to defend Bombardier’s interests.

In my view, if Prime Minister Trudeau truly believes the Trans Mountain pipeline project is in Canada’s national interests, he need to step up and ensure that project is built.

My question this week: Do you agree?

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola and his party’s Small business critic.

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